THE Republic of Ireland Women have already been dealt a huge blow ahead of their decisive round two World Cup play-off match next month as manager Vera Pauw has confirmed that Cork native Megan Connolly is ruled out through injury.
Ireland will face Scotland or Austria away on October 11 where a win in that one-off game will either secure their place at the World Cup finals for the first time ever or else their place at the inter-confederation play-offs in New Zealand next February.
But they will have to do without the services of former College Corinthians star Megan Connolly, who suffered fractured ribs and a bruised kidney in Ireland’s crucial win over Finland in Dublin recently which then also ruled her out of their victory away to Slovakia a few days later.
“We hope Niamh Fahey is fit but Ruesha (Littlejohn) and Megan (Connolly) are both out already,” admitted Pauw.
“Due to the strategy that we’ve chosen, we can fill those gaps, but we should not underestimate their qualities, of course.
“They have both been very crucial the whole campaign in building and carrying this team. It’s a real blow but we have to do without them.
“It’s a very tough draw, both Scotland and Austria are really good teams. Austria in the Euros impressed me hugely, I have done one of their games for RTÉ, they are well organised, and physically strong.
“They have a few extremely talented players, a strong striker and solid defence, if they get through it will be very, very difficult. Scotland, we all know how much experience they have, we have huge respect for them.
“It could have been better but we have to deal with it, go for it and we will, we will be ready.”
The Ireland boss also provided an update on Saoirse Noonan’s current status within the Women’s National Team.
The Leesider, who recently scored 10 minutes into her long-awaited Durham debut in the English Women’s Championship, was included in Pauw’s original 28-player squad for the games with Finland and Slovakia but then wasn’t included in either of the final 23-player matchday selections.
“We have discussed that and that is something between us. That is also something that we would like to discuss at her club. I plan to travel there and to discuss it so that will stay between us.
“But the best players play. The players that can make it at that level play and she is very close.
She is very talented but we keep her with the squad because we have to believe that she can break through.
“She will get fitter and fitter and fitter and better and better and better and of course, that will improve her chances, yeah."