The Republic of Ireland Women’s team head into today’s World Cup qualifier in Slovakia looking not only for the three points but also their sixth campaign clean sheet says centre-back Louise Quinn.
The side haven’t conceded a goal in 317 minutes of action and have kept a clean sheet in their last three games. Unsurprisingly, centre-half Louise Quinn admits she is pretty pleased with that.
“As a defender the main priority is to stop the goals going in so obviously that’s great for us.
"We want to keep that run up. We want other teams to know that we are tough to score against and we do not concede many goals and hopefully we can take that into the next two games.”
Quinn believes that the return of Niamh Fahey after a lengthy absence injury has been a big boost and she is delighted to be playing alongside the Arsenal defender in a back four that also includes a rejuvenated Áine O’Gorman at right-back and the emerging Karen Duggan at left-back.
“We have a good mix of experience, youth and talent at the back and Niamh Fahey coming back was great. I think I can work really well with her in there and, with Emma Byrne in goal, it is a very hard back-four to beat.”
Ireland began their World Cup campaign 12 months ago in Bray with a 2-0 win over Slovakia but Quinn believes that the Slovaks have improved as the campaign as progressed and will be keen to finish on a high in front of their own fans.
“It’s going to be a very tough game. It’s coming to the end of the campaign and Slovakia are going to want to pick up a few points and finish the campaign on a high.
"We definitely want to be going for a win because there is a still chance for us to finish in that second spot. We are going to finish on more points than we ever have done before but we want to improve that total before we finish.”
At the beginning of 2013, Quinn took the decision to leave Peamount United, where she had just captained them to the first ever Women’s National League title, and sign for Swedish First Division side Eskilstuna United.
She helped them win the league and promotion to the top flight and this season she has played a major role in helping Eskilstuna into the top half of the table.
“We are still in fifth place in the table and have really proven ourselves. We have an outside chance of a Champions League spot so we’ll have plenty to play for when the international break is over.
"It’s been really good for my career and just building myself as a player and as an athlete. It’s definitely one of the better decisions I have made. I took a small gamble but it has completely paid off.”
The match takes place at the Slovakia Football Federation’s National Training Centre in Senec (2.30pm Irish time).
Heavy rain over the previous 36 hours meant that both teams were unable to train on the pitch today and a preliminary inspection by the match referee has been scheduled for 9am (Irish time) tomorrow morning.
A live stream of the match can be viewed at www.youtube.com/user/sfzofficial
Goalkeepers: Emma Byrne (Arsenal), Niamh Reid-Burke (Raheny United). Defenders: Áine O’Gorman (UCD Waves), Sophie Perry (Brighton & Hove Albion), Meabh de Burca (Galway WFC), Louise Quinn (Eskilstuna United), Niamh Fahey (Arsenal), Karen Duggan (UCD Waves), Megan Campbell (Florida State University). Midfielders: Julie Ann Russell (UCD Waves), Siobhan Killeen (Raheny United), Dora Gorman (UCD Waves), Ciara Grant (UCD Waves), Shannon Smyth (Amazon Grimstad). Forwards: Fiona O’Sullivan (Notts County), Denise O’Sullivan (Glasgow City), Stephanie Roche (ASPTT Albi), Ruesha Littlejohn (Sandviken).