Republic of Ireland 3-2 Australia
The Republic of Ireland came out on the right side of a five-goal thriller at Tallaght Stadium as Vera Pauw's side beat Australia 3-2 in a friendly international.
An own goal and a deflected Denise O’Sullivan effort were cancelled out by two Mary Fowler strikes for the visitors as the sides were level at the break.
The home side, however, sealed the hard-fought victory early in the second half as Louise Quinn arrived up from the back to head home the winner from a set-piece.
It was a great night at Tallaght Stadium as the fans were back at an international game for the first time since March 2020.
Prime conditions for a game of football prevailed and it proved a perfect start for both Ireland, and for debutant Quinn, who played a pivotal part in the opening goal, which arrived inside the opening two minutes.
The Birmingham City striker, whose family hail from County Sligo, earned a free-kick on the edge of the box and opted to take it herself.
The 27-year-old clipped a precise effort just over the wall and while the ball cannoned off the bottom of the post, it rebounded off the diving Mackenzie Arnold and crossed the line.
Australia failed to threaten in the opening 10 minutes, however, the visitors were allowed back into the contest as a result of a shot on goal that should really have been saved.
In the 14th minute, Mary Fowler struck a low shot from the edge of the box, and while Courtney Brosnan looked to be behind the effort, the ball spun off her outstretched arms and sneaked over the line for the equaliser.
But Ireland were not to be deterred and were looking lively on the counter attack, with Amber Barrett always dangerous coming from a deeper position in attack.
And the game burst back into life in the 20th minute as Aine O'Gorman was played in down the right by a fine Niamh Fahey pass.
The Peamount stalwart slammed a great ball across the face of the goal and while Kyra Cooney-Cross got a strong defensive header on the ball, she looked on anxiously as it crashed off the crossbar and away to safety.
But this was a great spell of Irish pressure and just two minutes later, Heather Payne weaved her way through a host of Australia shirts before working the keeper with a well-hit effort.
Sixty seconds later, Ireland were celebrating their second goal as Denise O’Sullivan put the home side ahead.
Again courtesy of a deflection, and again from Cooney-Cross, who got a strong block on the goalbound effort, but the wicked contact took the ball just inside the post and into the back of the net.
The Matildas grew into the game during the second quarter and enjoyed a fine spell of pressure in and around the Ireland box, with Brosnan making up for her earlier mistake with some important, if unconventional clearances.
Australia heaped on the pressure on the home defence and should have bagged a deserved equaliser in the 36th minute when a fine move was worked into the penalty area.
Brosnan was forced out of position, leaving Emily Gielnik to turn with the ball in space, and while she had a keeper-less goal to aim at, she managed to target her effort at the covering Savannah McCarthy.
Ireland were now looking to hold on until the break with a slender lead, and while they looked to have weathered the storm, they were pegged back on the stroke of half-time.
The ever-impressive Fowler found time for another strike on goal, and this time the well-hit effort earned the visitors their own rub of the green, as the ball took a huge deflection off the foot of McCarthy and the ball looped into the back of the net.
It took just four minutes of the second half for Ireland to take the lead for the third time in the contest.
No deflection required on this occasion as Louise Quinn stooped at the back post to guide a header home through a small gap in the Australia defence.
The visitors looked to increase the pressure once more, but this time Ireland looked more organised and compact in defence and restricted Australia from really testing the goal.
A host of substitutions took the tempo down a notch as the game approached the final 20 minutes.
And it suited the home side as they nullified everything that was thrown at them, while looking to sneak something as the Australia line naturally moved forward.
The final onslaught failed to materialise from the visitors, who ran out of ideas as the game moved into injury time.
Chelsea star and Australia captain Sam Kerr appeared to plough a lone furrow up front and while ably assisted by the classy Folwer, the Ireland defence held firm for a much needed morale-boosting victory.
Ireland: Courtney Brosnan; Niamh Fahey, Louise Quinn, Savannah McCarthy; Áine O'Gorman, Denise O'Sullivan, Jamie Finn (Diane Caldwell 90), Katie McCabe (capt), Amber Barrett (Niamh Farrelly 60); Heather Payne (Leanne Kiernan 90), Lucy Quinn (Emily Whelan 72).
Australia: Mackenzie Arnold (Lydia Williams HT); 3 Courtney Nevin (Angela Beard 68), 14 Alanna Kennedy (Emma Checker HT), 4 Clare Polkinghorne, 7 Steph Catley, 19 Kyra Cooney-Cross, 13 Tameka Yallop (Charlotte Grant 68), 6 Chloe Logarzo (Clare Wheeler 53), 11 Mary Fowler, 20 Sam Kerr (capt), 15 Emily Gielnik.