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Irish women's boss Tom O'Conno...
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Irish women's boss Tom O'Connor - 'The squad will get better'

Ann-Marie Donelan
Ann-Marie Donelan

23:09 3 Sep 2019

The Republic of Ireland women's team got their Euro 2021 qualification campaign off to a winning start on Tuesday night with a 2-0 victory over Montenegro. 

It took just 6 minutes for player-of-the-match 18-year-old Tyler Toland to put the Girls in Green on the scoreboard in Tallaght Stadium.

It was then a frustrating night for the home side as they were not able to turn possession into goal-scoring opportunities for the remainder of the first half.

Ireland continued to dominate in the second-half as and their opponents, who had been beaten 10-0 by Germany over the weekend, set up extremely defensively.

The pressure paid off then with 20 minutes left on the clock as Katie McCabe converted from the spot to seal the points.

It was caretaker boss Tom O'Connor's first competitive game in charge.

He spoke to Off the Ball at full-time and said there were positives to take from the performance.

"It's what we were working for - when the opportunity arises shoot, that's what Tyler did and it went in.

"Every game is a test. We played the USA that was a test and we played tonight, that was a different type of test.

"The test tonight was we were going to have lots of possession and can we transfer that into goals or goal-scoring opportunities?"

O'Connor had particular praise for captain Katie McCabe who stood up to take the penalty and sent an impressive strike into the top left corner.

He felt it was a special moment for the Tallaght native, in front of a crowd of over 3,400 fans.

"She's a great kid. Massive confidence. A leader - she wants the ball, that's the way she always plays regardless who you're playing against.

"We're delighted for her to go up and take the penalty in front of her home crowd."

O'Connor also had praise for the crowd which was impressive considering it was the first of their qualification campaign on a Tuesday evening.

"Tonight's crowd is on the back of the World Cup and what that has generated.

"I think you'll see that by more participation from young girls in the game."

The Girls in Green are in Group I alongside world number two Germany, Ukraine, and Greece as well as Tuesday's opponents Montenegro.

O'Connor feels tougher challenges will lie ahead and more chances will have to be created and taken to secure wins.

"You have to be realistic but the squad will get better, without a shadow of a doubt.

"Maybe a little bit of a hiccup tonight but we won and it was a clean sheet.

"We'll go back to the hotel tonight and dust ourselves down."

O'Connor was appointed caretaker boss when Colin Bell stepped down earlier this year.

He has interviewed for the role full-time and a decision is expected to be made in relation to the position before their next game against Ukraine next month.

"I've interviewed but it's in the hands of the people that look after the association and you have to respect their decision and that's the way I've always operated.

"The powers that be will make that decision and I'm sure they're looking at the calendar and how quick the next game is coming up."

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