Ireland's women's team came within three minutes of taking a massive scalp at the Cyprus Cup this afternoon in Paralimni but had to settle for a 1-1 draw against New Zealand, who are ranked 17 places higher than Ireland in the FIFA World Rankings.
After a scoreless first half, in which Ireland’s Sophie Perry had the best chance, Sue Ronan’s side took the lead in the 64th minute when Peamount United’s Aine O’Gorman rose above the New Zealand defence to head home a cross from half-time substitute Siobhan Killeen, who was making her senior debut.
The Irish went within three minutes of securing a famous victory but were caught out in the 87th minute when Hannah Wilkinson rose highest to meet a long ball into the box and headed home the equaliser to save the Kiwis’ blushes.
“It was a great performance and if we had held on it would have been the biggest result in the history of the international women’s team,” said manager Ronan afterwards.
“We played really well and we have definitely taken it on another step from the game against England in La Manga which was a step up from the earlier performance against Holland.
"What made it even more impressive was that they played their strongest available team from the start which was a real compliment to us.
“They were a good team and it took us a while to get to grips with their movement but once we did we looked very comfortable. Our goal was very well worked and we did a lot of good things in the build-up.
"We were very disappointed at the manner in which we conceded the equaliser as it was just a long ball into the box and we should have dealt with it better.”
Ireland’s next game is Friday against South Korea before they face Switzerland on 10 March.
The final game on March 12 will be for their overall finishing position and the opposition will not be known until the completion of the group stage on 10 March.