DYNAMIC Cork midfielder Denise O'Sullivan looked every inch the world-class players she's become but Ireland were reeled in during added-time in Greece.
They blew their chance to surge joint-top of their women’s European Championship group heading into 2020 after conceding a sloppy late equaliser to the hosts.
Amber Barrett’s second international goal on 13 minutes put Ireland in command at the Nea Smyrni Stadium but a litany of missed chances eventually cost them three into the five minutes of stoppage time.
Sub Anastasia Spiridonidou grabbed an undeserved point for the hosts, putting a dent in Ireland’s ambitions of progressing to the 2021 finals as one of the best runners-up. They have seven points from nine and are next in action away to Montenegro in March.
O'Sullivan excelled as a playmaker in the number 10 geanasí, fresh from another MVP worthy campaign in North America though another Leesider Megan Connolly, sister of Cork senior footballer Luke, was missing through injury.
Connolly was one of three absentees from last month’s victory over Ukraine, which along with knocks to a couple of others influenced the selection criteria of manager Vera Pauw, a Dutch native.
Barrett's goal was very classy. After spotting goalkeeper Anthi Papakonstantinou off her line, the FC Koln striker lobbed the static goalkeeper with a first-time volley.
That should have been the cue for Ireland to cement a dominant first-half performance with more goals but they left a host of opportunities behind them.
O’Sullivan fashioned Ireland’s best opportunity to kill off the game five minutes after the restart. Excellent play from Whelan slipped in the Cork native but she couldn’t find the accuracy, allowing Papakonstantinou to bat away the strike.
In another flowing move, Kiernan miscontrolled O’Sullivan’s neat through-ball and the Greeks finally came alive in the final 20 minutes.
Moraitou floated an 80th-minute shot over the crossbar and, into injury time, Caldwell needed to deflect Veatriki Sarri’s shot out for a corner.
The late pressure finally told when McCabe was left alone at the back post marking two players, one of whom beat Hourihan with a rising shot inside her near post.
IRELAND: M Hourihan (SC Braga); JA Russell (Sydney University), L Quinn (Arsenal), D Caldwell (SC Sand), K McCabe (Arsenal); N Fahey (Liverpool), J Finn (Shelbourne); L Kiernan (West Ham United), D O’Sullivan (North Carolina Courage), E Whelan (Shelbourne); A Barrett (FC Koln).
Subs: K Keenan (Celtic) for Russell (h-t), S Roche (CF Florentia) for Barrett (83).