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“Bring it on” is de Burca’s battlecry

“Bring it on!” That was the battlecry from defender Meabh de Burca on the eve of the Republic of Ireland’s final game at the Cyprus Cup against Finland in Parlini (kick-off 12noon Irish time).

The Finns come into the game ranked 19th in the world and ninth in Europe, well above the Irish who have been punching above their weight this week and held world No.16 South Korea to a draw on Monday to top Group C and earn an opportunity to play-off with Finland for seventh and eighth place in this 12 team tournament.

The 24-year-old Galwegian is one of the more experienced players in the squad this week and has seen the confidence of the squad grow steadily following wins over Northern Ireland (5-1) and South Africa (1-0) before that scoreless draw with South Korea.

“The three of them have been great results,” said de Burca. “Although Northern Ireland and South Africa were ranked lower than us we always seemed to struggle against those types of teams in the past so it was good to get two good wins. Against the better teams in the past we always seem to do well for about an hour and then concede a goal so it was great to keep a clean sheet against a team of South Korea’s calibre.

“Now we’ve got Finland and it’s a game we are all really looking forward to. We came here wanting to win the group and the reward for doing that is to play one of the better teams. We are unbeaten in three games and we’ve got a bit of momentum so we want to keep that going.”

This is an exciting month for de Burca who is about to join team-mate Louise Quinn at Swedish club Eskilstuna United having played previously for the Norwegian side Amazon Grimstad.

“It’s going to be a bit of change to go from the sunshine here in Cyprus to a place where it’s minus 15 but I am really looking forward to it. It’s a new challenge for me and has made this quite an exciting few weeks.”

Finland are in Cyprus preparing for their third successive European Championships this summer in Sweden having reached the semi-finals and quarter-finals in the last two. They are currently ranked 19th on the FIFA World Rankings and will be second seeds when the draw for the FIFA World Cup qualifiers is made next month. 

They won their European Championship qualifying group by three points from Ukraine, losing just once in eight games and finishing with a goal difference of plus 18 after scoring 22 goals and conceding just four.

Their form in Cyprus this week has been disappointing and, after opening up with a 1-1 draw against the Netherlands last Wednesday, they lost 2-1 to FIFA World Cup 2015 hosts Canada and then 3-2 to Switzerland on Monday.

Manager Sue Ronan cancelled today’s scheduled training session in order to allow her squad recover from the exertions of Monday’s game and they confined their activity to stretching and a swim in the sea at their beachfront hotel in Ayia Napa.

“Everybody is relishing this one. We want to play games against the likes of South Korea and Finland because they are ranked higher than us and will test us. We have had a marvellous tournament. We came in ranked 10th out of the 12 teams and are now playing off for seventh and eighth place so that’s a positive achievement,” said Ronan.

“There is no pressure on the players now. They topped their group so anything after this a bonus. But they are now unbeaten in three games and have kept two clean sheets for the first time in seven years  so there is a strong determination now within the group to keep that run going.”

Ronan won’t name her team until shortly before kick-off and has only concerns about one player, U19 international skipper Denise O’Sullivan who is struggling with a back problem.

Squad: Emma Byrne (Arsenal), Eve Badana (Drexel University), Yvonne Tracy (Arsenal), Megan Campbell (Raheny United), Grace Murray (Peamount United), Louise Quinn (Eskilstuna United DFF), Jessica Gleeson (Wexford Youths), Seana Cooke (Raheny United), Meabh de Burca (Eskilstuna United DFF), Diane Caldwell (Alvadsnes), Ciara Grant (Raheny United), Karen Duggan (Peamount United), Emma Hansberry (Castlebar Celtic), Rachel Graham (Raheny United), Aine O’Gorman   (Peamount United),  Shannon Smyth (Amazon Grimstad FK), Deirdre Doherty (IT Sligo), Ruesha Littlejohn (Glasgow City), Noelle Murray (Raheny United), Sara Lawlor (Peamount United), Stephanie Roche (Peamount United), Denise O’Sullivan (Cork Women’s FC).

 

Details

Cyprus Women’s Cup Group C

Results

Republic of Ireland 5 Northern Ireland 1

South Korea 2 South Africa 0

South Africa 0 Republic of Ireland 1

Northern Ireland 0 South Korea 3

South Africa 2 Northern Ireland 1

South Korea 0 Republic of Ireland 0

Table

                                             P             W           D            L             F             A             PTS        

Rep of Ireland                   3             2             1            0             6             1             7

South Korea                       3             2            1             0             5             0             7

South Africa                       3             1             0             2             2             4             3

Northern Ireland               3             0             0             3             2             10           0

 

Fixtures:

 

Wednesday, March 13

Play-off for 7th and 8th place: Republic of Ireland v Finland, Parlini, 12noon (Irish time)


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