Vera Pauw got off to the best possible start as manager of the Republic of Ireland Women’s side as they defeated Ukraine 3-2 at Tallaght Stadium on Tuesday night. The game was watched by a record 5,328 supporters at the home of Shamrock Rovers and there was plenty of entertainment for the sizeable crowd.
The home side raced out of the blocks and took the lead as a strong run and low cross from Rianna Jarrett was converted by Katie McCabe. Shortly afterwards, McCabe returned the favour as her floated delivery from a corner from the right hand side was met by the head of Jarrett who converted from close range, scoring her first goal for Ireland in the process.
However, Pauw will be disappointed by the manner in which Ireland allowed their opponents a route back into the game. Goalkeeper Marie Hourihane failed to catch what appeared to be a routine cross for the netminder and Lyubov Shmatko was on hand to finish from close range.
The visitors grabbed an equaliser when Ireland failed to clear and Olha Ovdiychuk placed a shot into the corner of the net much to the despair of Hourihane.
The hosts showed great character to bounce back from those set-backs after the break and went in search of a vital winner. In a desperate attempt to block a Denise O’Sullivan shot, Shmatko was briefly successful but her block struck teammate Natiya Pantsulaya before hitting the back of the net.
Ireland are now in second place following the victory and are six points adrift of leaders Germany but also have two games in hand. Next up for Pauw’s side is a trip to face Greece on Novemember 12th at 3pm.
With Stephen Kenny’s Irish u-21 side due to face Italy in another crucial qualifier in front of a packed Tallaght Stadium once more, it promises to be a huge week for Irish football which has got off to the best possible start.