Ireland’s preparations for the World Cup qualifiers began in inauspicious style as they fell 3-0 to Belgium at the Pingouin club this afternoon in a fixture delayed by 40 minutes.
The Irish panel arrived mere hours before the tie and the ring-rust allowed the Belgians – a force on the rise, now up to 18th in the world rankings, three below Ireland – to ease to a 3-0 victory. For both sides, it was a first fixture of 2010 with the hosts preparing for their trip to Sand Diego in March while Ireland go to Chile in April.
Louisa Healy pulled off a couple of early saves before Erica Coppey broke the deadlock in the 25th minute, tipping in a cross.
The Irish improved after the turnaround with Audrey O’Flynn (right), on debut, netting her side’s only corner though it was subsequently ruled out for dangerous play in the build-up.
And Belgian doubled their lead through Lola Danhaive in the 50th minute and completed the scoring five minutes from time through Charlotte de Vos via a corner routine.
Speaking after the game coach Gene Muller said: “We were rusty tonight after a six month break from international matches, and conceded some sloppy goals we also failed to score from High quality chances”
“On a positive note our two new caps, Nicci Daly and Audrey O’Flynn acquitted themselves well.”
Ireland will play Belgium on Sunday at 10am Irish time.
Ireland squad: Emma Clarke (Leicester); Lizzie Colvin (Loreto); Nicci Daly (Loreto); Roisin Flinn (Old Alex); Mary Goode (Bray); Louisa Healy (Loreto); Michelle Harvey (Pegasus); Lisa Jacob (UCD); Rachel Mulligan (Armagh); Audrey O’Flynn (UCC); Shirley McCay (Dragons); Julia O’Halloran UCC); Cliodhna Sargent (Cork Harlequins); Niamh Small (Loreto); Emma Smyth (Railway Union); Nikki Symmons (Loreto)