Put the group tables, fixture lists and calculators away.

The mind-bending stew of possibilities around the World Cup play-offs has boiled right down for the Republic of Ireland: beat Slovakia this evening and they will go straight into round 2 on 11 October.

Ireland needed Serbia, Belgium and Austria to slip up over the weekend against Portugal, Norway and England respectively to give them an opportunity to sneak into the top three ranked sides of the nine who are in the play-offs.

The chips fell their way, and they now take on a dogged Slovakia team knowing victory will see them bypass round 1 and potentially be just one game away from next year's finals in Australia and New Zealand.

But it won't be easy for the Girls in Green in Senec, a picturesque holiday resort town near Bratislava.

Patrícia Fischerová and Heather Payne in action at Tallaght Stadium last November

"It will be extremely difficult because Slovakia is a very good team," Vera Pauw said on the eve of the game.

"They have drawn against Finland - that was the major result - but there were other results were very close. We couldn't get the win against them either [Ireland drew 1-1 with Slovakia in Tallaght last November] and actually were happy with the draw."

Last November's meeting between the two sides in Tallaght was a bit of a reality check at the time.

Ireland had just come away from Finland with a brilliant 2-1 win but any notions that they’d swat the Slovakians aside in Dublin quickly evaporated.

Slovakia were good. Although defensively sound, they didn't sit back against Ireland, and seemed to catch their hosts by surprise with a mixture of aggression, pace and slick passing.

Club Brugge attacker Ludmila Mat'avková caught the eye in particular. She was an excellent outlet all night – quick, clever and mobile, and it was her cross that allowed Martina Surnovská to bundle home the opening goal.

Katie McCabe drilled home a leveller but Ireland were pretty fortunate not to lose that night. In the last 15 minutes Louise Quinn made a terrific goal-line clearance from Laura Zemberyová’s shot after a mistake from Courtney Brosnan.

Pauw said Ireland had "a huge emotional explosion" on Thursday so there is a danger they'll be a bit flat against defensively decent opponents.

Slovakia are second bottom of the group but they have only conceded eight goals in their seven games [Georgia, who prop up the table, shipped 54 goals], and also nicked a draw at home to Finland. Sweden only beat them 1-0 in the first game of the group so there's a resilience there that will be hard to break.

They come into this one off the back of a 4-0 win in Georgia that greatly pleased manager Peter Kopun.

"Of course, in this mood I say with a smile that we are looking forward to the next game," he said. "Ireland is waiting for us on Tuesday."

Louise Quinn (L) and Vera Pauw spoke to the press on Monday

His contract is up after this game and he's keen to stay on so you can bank on the home side playing with plenty of gusto. They really do have nothing to lose here.

Meanwhile Pauw has been talking up Ireland's unflinching commitment to the cause - more proof of that came on Monday night when Megan Connolly revealed she played on against Finland with fractured ribs and a bruised kidney.

Connolly misses out tonight having spent a few days in the Mater Hospital and with Niamh Fahey also still injured [groin], Diane Caldwell is likely to get the nod at the back.

Ruesha Littlejohn's injury could mean Lily Agg - the match winner against the Finns - starts, and Jamie Finn is suspended.

Jessie Stapleton and Isibeal Atkinson were called up to the squad a few days, while Wexford Youths midfielder Aoibheann Clancy has also been drafted in to beef up Ireland's options.

"We'll try and get control of the game as quickly as we can, earn the right to play how we want to play," Louise Quinn said.

"Look at the squad we have. If we can make sure each one of them can bring out what they're excellent at on the pitch it can be a successful game.

"Things are not always going to go right. Of course we want to play the best game of our lives every international game, but it can be difficult to do that.

"It's then about earning the right to play and to keep ourselves in the game. That's exactly what we did [against Finland]. Me being a defender, the first thing I said when we came in at half-time was, 'you know what, we did great, we kept a clean sheet’. That was the first thing I said.

"It’s about figuring out how to not be like, 'oh my God they’re all over us, what can we do?’. You have to take the positives form the stress situations."

The vibes continue to be positive and calm ahead of this important match - even if it can fray the nerves of those watching on.

"I'd say it's definitely more stressful for (the supporters) in the stands," Quinn added. "My mam wasn't able to watch the last 15 minutes. She's a stress head. She'd to go for a walk!

"It's what we've trained for and learned to do. Maybe that was us a few years ago where we did let the stress get to us."

There was laughter towards the end of Monday's press conference when Quinn suggested Ireland had learned to be less 'Spursy', a term that takes aim at Tottenham's history of choking when it matters.

It was brought up in yet another callback to Ireland's 2020 loss to Ukraine that effectively cost them a place in the Euros but those ghosts are banished now; they were banished last Thursday night.

Ireland are in new territory. A stubborn Slovakia are just another hurdle to overcome on their quest to make history.

Republic of Ireland squad

Goalkeepers: Courtney Brosnan (Everton), Grace Moloney (Reading), Megan Walsh (Brighton & Hove Albion), Eve Badana (DLR Waves)

Defenders: Harriet Scott (Birmingham City), Claire O'Riordan (Celtic), Diane Caldwell (Reading), Louise Quinn (Birmingham City), Jessie Stapleton (Shelbourne), Hayley Nolan (London City Lionesses), Chloe Mustaki (Bristol City), Megan Campbell (Liverpool), Áine O’Gorman (Peamount United)

Midfielders: Katie McCabe (Arsenal), Denise O’Sullivan (North Carolina Courage), Ciara Grant (Hearts), Lily Agg (London City Lionesses), Ellen Molloy (Wexford Youths), Jess Ziu (West Ham United), Lucy Quinn (Birmingham City), Isibeal Atkinson (West Ham United), Aoibheann Clancy (Wexford Youths)

Forwards: Heather Payne (Florida State University), Amber Barrett (FFC Turbine Potsdam), Leanne Kiernan (Liverpool), Abbie Larkin (Shelbourne), Saoirse Noonan (Durham WFC)

Follow Slovakia v Republic of Ireland via our live blog on RTÉ.ie/sport and the RTÉ News app, watch live on RTÉ2 and the RTÉ Player or listen to national commentary on RTÉ Radio 1 Extra.