Tallaght Stadium, Thursday 5 March, 7.15pm


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It'll be a cold and crisp start to the day in the capital with frost slowly clearing. Mostly dry with sunshine and some isolated showers. There'll be top temperatures of 6 to 8 degrees and light, variable winds. For more visit

A chance to heal the wounds of Athens

Almost four months have passed since Greece broke Irish hearts with a 92nd-minute equaliser in Athens.

That was a bitter pill to swallow, but boss Vera Pauw refused to wallow in self pity afterwards. 

"I thought we had enough quality on the pitch but we need to learn how to see the game away," she told RTÉ Sport afterwards. 

"That is by listening also very, very carefully when things are changing. Everybody has fought their butt off and done everything they could, but it needs to be better."

So will it be better?

Ireland return to action for the first time since that clash on Thursday when they welcome the Greeks to Tallaght Stadium.

Pauw's charges are second in Group I with two wins and a draw to their name from three games. An unstoppable looking Germany have won all four of their games, scored 31 and conceded none.

They are going to win the group, but Ireland could still qualify automatically if they finish as one of the three best runners-up - excluding results against the sixth-placed team, since seven of the nine groups are made up of just five teams. Otherwise, second spot will earn them a place in the play-offs. 

The Greeks are three points behind Ireland, though they've already faced the Germans (and lost 5-0 at home), while Ireland are yet to take on the group powerhouses. 

Ireland really should have been out of sight by half-time at the Nea Smyrni Stadium. After Amber Barrett put them one up with a lovely 13th-minute lob, Leanne Kiernan, Louise Quinn, Dianne Caldwell and Niamh Fahey all spurned chances before the break, and that profligacy proved costly as the Greeks improved in the turnaround.

They are tenacious, direct and physical but Ireland will feel they invited the late wave of pressure themselves from dropping far too deep. Lesson have been learned.

Familiar faces boost the cause 

Pauw was missing some key players for the trip to Greece. 

Courtney Brosnan, Harriet Scott, Niamh Farrelly, Ruesha Littlejohn and Heather Payne all missed out in November but they're included in the panel this time round.

There are some injuries. Brighton midfielder Megan Connolly was ruled out at the start of the week due to a shoulder injury, while the luckless Megan Campbell is facing another long spell out following tendon surgery on her foot. Jessica Ziu (groin) and Leanne Kiernan (knee) are also unavailable, but American-born attacker Kyra Carusa could play some part after receiving FIFA international clearance last week.

The camp has been given one major shot in the arm that may yet prove a defining moment in this qualification campaign. 

Aine O'Gorman's decision to come out of retirement is an enormous lift and she comes straight into the squad for Thursday night. The 30-year-old Peamount star retired in 2018 after accumulating 100 caps but her outstanding club form - and a nagging feeling that she still has unfinished business in a green jersey - has seen her make a welcome return.

"It feels like I never left to be honest," she said.

"It's always been something that's been in the back of my mind since the new management came in. You get itchy feet. There's obviously been a few injuries in the squad as well.

"Vera gave me the shout, and I was delighted with the opportunity. I think it would be something I'd regret if I turned it down. It'll be amazing, probably even more special than my first cap or my 100th cap, so I'm just looking forward to the game and helping the team."

O'Gorman was named as a defender in Pauw's squad and is likely to provide competition for the right-back position, where her attacking instincts could provide extra drive and creativity. 

Her experience will be embraced by management and the other players alike. O'Gorman, meanwhile, must know that this Ireland team has a real shot at making history by making it to a first ever major tournament.

She'll be desperate to play her part.

Can you hear the Tallaght roar?

Ireland have attracted healthy crowds for their two homes games in this campaign to date - the 2-0 win against Montenegro and 3-2 defeat of Ukraine - and the fans will be out in force again for this one.

In fact it's predicted the turnout could eclipse the record attendance of 5,328 that was set in last October's victory over the Ukrainians. That level of support has not been lost on the manager or the players who've consistently highlighted the positive impact of a noisy, boisterous Green Army. 

"We need the fans," Pauw said at the start of the week.

"I hope that everybody is coming because to get that support it pulls you through the difficult moments in the game.

"It is fantastic that tickets are selling well but need the fans to turn up on the night - that is very important. We had a great crowd and atmosphere at the Ukraine game, so it would be special to experience that on a night when we need to beat Greece."

Arsenal defender Quinn echoed those sentiments, and aired her belief that a vocal, partisan crowd can give the Irish an edge.

"This is what you want as an international player, to play in the best stadiums in front of your fans.

"It clearly showed when we played Ukraine - it was the crowd that helped us get through the bump we had in that game. That's exactly what we'll need this time. It will give us the upper hand.

"It's great to see. I just love seeing where the game is going. It's only going up."

Republic of Ireland squad

Goalkeepers: Marie Hourihan (SC Braga), Grace Moloney (Reading), Courtney Brosnan (West Ham United)

Defenders: Harriet Scott (Birmingham City), Aine O'Gorman (Peamount United), Diane Caldwell (SC Sand), Claire O'Riordan (MSV Duisburg), Louise Quinn (Arsenal), Claire Walsh (Peamount United), Chloe Mustaki (Charlton Athletic)

Midfielders: Niamh Fahey (Liverpool), Denise O'Sullivan (North Carolina Courage), Hayley Nolan (Connecticut Fusion), Jamie Finn (Shelbourne), Julie-Ann Russell (Sydney University), Ruesha Littlejohn (West Ham United), Niamh Farrelly (Peamount United)

Forwards: Katie McCabe (Arsenal), Rianna Jarrett (Brighton & Hove Albion), Amber Barrett (FC Koln), Clare Shine (Glasgow City), Heather Payne (Florida State University), Krya Carusa (HB Hoge)

Greece squad

Goalkeepers: Gavriilidou Evdoxia (Doxa 2016), Papakonstantinou8 Anthi (PAOK), Giannakouli Dimitra (Atromitos) 

Defenders: Xatzigiannidou Natalia (PAOK), Nefrou Irini (DIOSGYORIVTK), Sidira Danai-Eleni (Apollon Ladies), Parasxou Michaela (Agrotikos Asteras), Kynosidoy Kyriaki (Apollon Ladies), Gatsou Anastasia (PAOK), Moraitou Athanasiou (South Alabama), Kaldaridou Danai (DIOSGYORIVTK), Kotsaki Stella (Ergotelis), Kydonaki Vasileia (OFI Kreta)

Midfielders: Karapetsa Dimitra (PAOK), Kakabouki Eleni (PAOK), Markou Eleni (Apollon Ladies), Sarri Veatriki (Sheffield United)

Forwards: Pouliou Grigoria (PAOK), Vardali Thomais (PAOK), Koggouli Sofia (UPC TAVAGNACCO), Kokoviadou Christina (Aris Thessaloniki), Spyridonidou Anastasia (Apollon Ladies), Chatzinikolaou Despoina (Napoli)

Follow the Republic of Ireland v Greece (kick-off 7.15pm) on Thursday via our live blog on and the News Now app or watch live on RTÉ2 and RTÉ Player from 7pm