Author Topic: King keeps Ireland improving  (Read 1723 times)

Offline David

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King keeps Ireland improving
« on: March 01, 2007, 10:56:13 AM »
The Republic of Ireland have not competed in the main qualifying phase of the UEFA European Women's Championship since a 10-0 defeat by Sweden in 1992 - four years after they had held the Scandinavians to a 1-1 draw. Now they are back in the top tier, and Sweden are among their rivals as Ireland attempt to reach UEFA WOMEN'S EURO 2009™.

Opening encounter
Ireland had their first taste of major qualifying action in more than a decade for the 2007 FIFA Women's World Cup, and among their results were a 0-0 draw in Scotland, 2-0 defeat of Switzerland and, perhaps most impressive, holding champions Germany to a 1-0 scoreline in Cottbus. Hungary will be Ireland's first opponents in EURO Group 2 on 1 April - the match that kicks off the qualifying round - with Italy and Romania also involved along with Sweden.

Players happy
Ireland manager Noel King is looking forward to the challenge. King told "We've got a lot of young players coming up, whether we mature quick enough remains to be seen. It's great playing against Sweden and Italy, fantastic, so I'm happy and I'm sure all the players are happy."

Arsenal duo
Among those players are two from Arsenal LFC - goalkeeper Emma Byrne, who performed heroics against Germany, and midfielder Ciara Grant. In April, after facing Hungary, that pair will be aiming to help their club defeat Umeå IK in the UEFA Women's Cup final. "Emma's really progressing, she's improved many aspects of her game," King said. "To have her as our No1 is a huge bonus. And we also have Sarah Peters pushing her all the way and that's helped Emma. Ciara is captain, and we have other players developing: Kate Taylor - the world [amateur lightweight] boxing champion - Niamh Fahey, Edel Malone, plus many others."

'Closing the gap'
However, King knows that there is still ground to make up, but the Football Association of Ireland's Women's Development Plan has proved a boon. "Our squad is starting to grow, we have this development plan. With the proper exposure we will continue to grow the game, everything is happy and rosy. The one fear is that you get hammered, we've been hammered before and will be hammered again in the future .Once we're closing the gap that's the key and I think we are closing the gap."