The Republic of Ireland Women's team has been eliminated from the Women's World Cup by Canada. Vera Pauw's team suffered a 2-1 defeat in their second group game against the reigning Olympic champions in Perth.
The match began with a promising start for Ireland, as Katie McCabe scored a brilliant goal from a corner within the first five minutes, giving them a dream lead. For a significant portion of the first half, Ireland appeared to be the better side.
However, the treacherous conditions and a stroke of bad luck resulted in Canada drawing level just before halftime, thanks to Megan Connolly's own goal.
Kyra Carusa, Ireland's skilled forward, gave Canadian defender Kadeisha Buchanan a tough time during the first half. There was a moment when McCabe found Carusa with a well-placed pass, and the striker outmuscled Buchanan before testing Keilen Sheridan with a shot from a tight angle. Ireland seemed to be in control.
Nevertheless, Canada managed to find a goal when Julia Grosso's low cross slipped through the Ireland defense in the rain. The attempted cross deflected off Connolly's studs and ended up in the bottom corner of the net.
Goalkeeper Courtney Brosnan had to be on her toes several times during the first half and made a crucial save in the second half when Christine Sinclair unleashed a shot from the left side, but Brosnan managed to keep the ball out.
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In the 53rd minute, Sophie Schmidt's well-timed pass found Adriana Leon in the Irish penalty area, and despite strong pressure from McCabe, Leon touched the ball beyond Brosnan to give Canada a 2-1 lead.
With the score now against them, Ireland faced mounting pressure to salvage their World Cup campaign. A defeat would mean elimination from the tournament for the Girls in Green.
Vera Pauw made some substitutions, bringing on Amber Barrett, Lily Agg, and Izzy Atkinson to try and turn the tide. As Ireland grew increasingly desperate for a goal, Canada's Jordan Huitema and Cloe Lacasse had opportunities to extend the lead to 3-1, but were unable to do so.
In the final moments of the game, McCabe dribbled to the byline, beating three defenders, and took a deflected shot with 10 minutes to go. Ireland pushed hard and fought valiantly, but it was Canada who emerged victorious with a 2-1 scoreline.
The defeat means that Ireland is now out of the World Cup, and their upcoming game against Nigeria will be a mere formality.
Despite the loss, the Irish team can hold their heads high for their first World Cup appearance. It surely won't be their last, as they have shown throughout the tournament.
Republic of Ireland: Courtney Brosnan; Aine O’Gorman (Marissa Sheva 59), Niamh Fahey, Louise Quinn, Megan Connolly, Katie McCabe; Lucy Quinn (Abbie Larkin 45), Denise O'Sullivan, Sinead Farrelly (Izzy Atkinson 65), Ruesha Littlejohn (Lily Agg 65); Kyra Carusa (Amber Barrett 65)
Canada: Kailen Sheridan; Kadeisha Buchanan (Shelina Zadorsky 45), Jayde Riviere (Allysha Chapman 90), Ashley Lawrence, Vanessa Gilles; Quinn, Julia Grosso (Sophie Schmidt 45), Jessie Fleming; Jordyn Huitema, Adriana Leon (Cloe Lacasse 59), Eveleyne Veins (Christine Sinclair 45)
Referee: Laura Fortunato (Argentina)