THE Republic of Ireland women’s side look to produce one last heroic effort to keep their hopes of qualifying for their first-ever major football tournament alive this evening.
The Girls in Green host Germany in Tallaght Stadium, kick-off is at 5pm and the match will be shown live on RTÉ 2, in the deciding game that will determine whether or not they can reach the UEFA European Championships that are set to be played in England during the summer of 2022.
After the incredibly disappointing 1-0 defeat to Ukraine in Kiev last month, when a draw would have been enough to secure a play-off spot, Ireland must now defeat the Germans, who are currently second in the world rankings, or hope that the Ukrainians slip up against bottom-placed Montenegro on the same evening if they are to finish second.
But it will be an incredibly difficult task as their opponents currently sit clear at the top of Group I after winning all seven of their fixtures, including a 3-0 victory against the Irish in Essen back in September.
Even more ominously for the Republic, Germany has yet to concede a single goal during this campaign and they have scored a remarkable 43 goals in the process, including six in their latest convincing triumph against Greece last Friday afternoon.
Manager Vera Pauw has named Cork pair Denise O’Sullivan and Éabha O’Mahony in her final squad for the decider while fellow Leesider Megan Connolly has been ruled out due to concussion protocols and Saoirse Noonan was omitted after being selected in the provisional 31-player panel.
O’Sullivan was on media duty last week in the lead up to this game and the attacking midfielder - currently on loan at Brighton & Hove Albion from North Carolina Courage - remains optimistic but also realistic about their chances of getting the result they need.
“It’s going to be tough against Germany and we’ll need a bit of luck,” insisted the Knocknaheeny native.
“Losing 1-0 in Ukraine last month was the most upsetting part of my career. It was absolutely devastating. I didn’t get over it for honestly a few weeks later. I went back to Brighton and was just so down.
“Look, those things make you stronger. You have to take the positives out of it. We weren’t bad on the night. Things just didn’t go our way.
“It’s football. Those nights happen a lot in football. We need to pick ourselves up again. We’ve come back into this camp and we’re very positive. We’re still second in the table and that’s a positive. Here we are for a huge game and we’re just excited to get out there and play.
“But we’ve got to be realistic against a German side out of this world. It’s 11 versus 11 and anything can happen. We’ll have a game-plan and are looking forward to it.”