“It’s one of the biggest games to date in women’s football”.
That is how Republic of Ireland international Áine O’Gorman described the side’s upcoming Euro 2021 qualifying showdown with Ukraine next Friday (October 23rd).
Vera Pauw’s team currently sit second in the Group I qualifying table having ended their unbeaten streak with a 3-0 loss to group leaders Germany last month.
A draw would guarantee their runners-up spot with one game to spare, and a play-off game with it. However, a win for Ireland would leave automatic qualification a possibility for the side.
O’Gorman, who was speaking at the launch of Aviva’s Virtual Soccer Sisters Programme, has only victory on her mind.
“It’s a must-win game. It’s something we’re all looking forward to off the back of a tough trip to Germany. We’re on the cusp of something special, we know that. Now we just have to focus on performing and getting the three points.”
It was just over a year ago when Ireland last faced Ukraine in the Euro qualifiers with O’Gorman sitting in the RTÉ studio for that encounter, having retired from the international game before making a U-turn in February.
The 31-year-old believes the side can take many learnings from that 3-2 victory, despite conceding a two-goal lead to set up a nervy second-half.
“You need to take it as another game, a game you have to win. We already got three points against Ukraine in Tallaght with a really impressive performance during Vera’s first game in charge. I think we’ll be trying to assimilate that game as well and take the learnings from Germany. I think if we go out and put in a performance, that should take care of the result.
In a similar fashion, the Peamount United defender chooses to look at the positives from their loss to the number two side in the world.
“I think it was one of the toughest games I’ve played in my career. The Germans are an exceptional side, probably the best team in the world at the moment in line with America. There’s lots to be learned, going 3-0, it could have gone either way in the second half. We regrouped at half-time and Vera got some good coaching points across.
“At times we did get ball and we tried to pass the ball a little bit more which was a little bit more encouraging than what we’ve done in the past. So we’ll take a lot from that game and the second half will give us confidence going to Ukraine.”
Friday’s game will bring Ireland one step closer to qualifying for their first-ever major tournament but O’Gorman is wary of over-hyping the game.
“We’ve played in the play-offs before against Iceland, I was part of that. We got a good result here in Dublin and then we went over to Iceland and genuinely played on an ice rink! That was a massive game at the time.
“We know what we have to do. At the start of the campaign, we always would have said that if we finish second in the group and get a play-off and then qualify for the Euros, it’s going to be a massive step for women’s football in Ireland.”
Republic of Ireland Women’s National Team player Áine O’Gorman launched the Aviva Soccer Sisters Mid-Term Virtual Skills Hub, specially designed for girls to take part in during the upcoming October mid-term. The online skills series will be rolled out daily at 10am through the week of 26th October and can be viewed at aviva.ie/soccersisters.