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Pauw: I want to continue

Euro Qualifier: Rep of Ireland 1 Germany 3

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Katie McCabe of Republic of Ireland celebrates after scoring during the Women’s Euro 2022 Qualifier against Germany at Tallaght Stadium. Photo: Sportsfile

Katie McCabe of Republic of Ireland celebrates after scoring during the Women’s Euro 2022 Qualifier against Germany at Tallaght Stadium. Photo: Sportsfile

SPORTSFILE

Katie McCabe of Republic of Ireland celebrates after scoring during the Women’s Euro 2022 Qualifier against Germany at Tallaght Stadium. Photo: Sportsfile

Vera Pauw had just seen her women's unlikely attempt at keeping their European Championship hopes alive end in defeat when she gathered her deflated squad around her in the bowels of the deserted Tallaght Stadium.

Within minutes, she had convinced them that they would qualify for the next World Cup in 2023.

"This team has not yet reached their ceiling, I'm convinced of it," the Dutch woman told us later as the lights slowly dimmed in the stadium where their major tournament hopes died but, as captain Katie McCabe asserted, another ambition was born.

Whether Pauw remains around to see that determined statement of intent through is another matter entirely.

The floodgates didn't open in Tallaght but there were floods of tears; Pauw admitted to a teary moment while the gifted Denise O'Sullivan sat distraught and alone for several minutes following the final whistle.

Aided

Germany led 2-0 after a half-hour, aided and abetted by some cleverness from Svenja Huth in entangling herself with Irish captain Katie McCabe's outstretched leg.

"Schwalbe is a German word and it means 'diving'," spat Pauw. "She did it. It's not something you want in the game but the team did not collapse and that is what I'm proud of."

Tabea Wabmuth had added a second before McCabe exacted some personal retribution by despatching a penalty, banishing her own concession and the missed effort in Kiev which might have written a different script for her side.

Ukraine were being held by Montenegro at the same stage but, in chasing a second-half equaliser, the Irish succumbed to a third goal.

Their defeat here extinguished all hope of a play-off but, in truth, the die was cast long ago on foreign fields, in Athens and in Kiev, where the quality of this side was not matched with conviction and consistency.

It remains to be seen whether they will all stay together to redouble their efforts for World Cup qualification which, like its male equivalent, could be a fiendish task if they receive the toughest of draws.

Unequivocally, the players want Pauw to stay, having already started this campaign without a manager. Stability is key to maintain progress.

She remains highly thought of by FAI performance director Ruud Dokter and, perhaps, other countries too but both sides will take some time before making a decision on her future.

"I need to rest and get the emotions down. My heart is fully with this team. We do things together, a fantastic staff and players, huge talent coming through. This team has a fantastic future," she said.

"I've not spoken to the FAI. I need to know if they want me and then I need to know about what time I need.

"This is not the moment to decide. First, if the FAI wants me to extend my contract. Second, there is my private situation. I'll go home, discuss it with Bert van Lingen (her partner). My feeling in there, is yes, I want to continue. I was crying.

"I'm so convinced they all want to stay on. It was heart-warming it was very emotional. I said they will be at the World Cup, I truly believe that."

Louise Quinn is one of those determined to stay on, as she eyes 100 caps for one thing, but also a World Cup bow for another.

"It's a really, really tough ask but I think we're going to go in with far more confidence now with Vera if we can keep that consistency.

"We started off this campaign with no manager, we've faced it all really. We've had everything thrown at us so for us, it's now how we can approach these World Cup draws and go in with no fear.

"I really hope she stays. How she talks and how she speaks to us, she has complete confidence in us and she gives us her everything.

"I think even for her, she loves the challenge of us and has just seen us grow. She came into the team seamlessly. For me, I think she's the right one for the job and hopefully she'll keep carrying on. We'll just see how it goes."

Pauw seems like a perfect fit and her ambitions for the sport here chime with those of her employers, unlike her predecessor, Colin Bell.

But she is not a perfect manager. For one thing, the belated decision to alight upon Grace Moloney between the sticks seemed to reflect poorly on her exclusion until this late stage of the campaign.

The Reading player exudes a competent authority in goal which will surely see her guarantee the role when the next international sequence commences, hopefully in March when there is a friendly window while others are involved in the play-off matches.

Ireland were good enough to be there and not all the flaws in this campaign are down to the players for there have been occasional tactical and selection mistakes made.

But the fundamental point is that the manager and squad are mutually beneficial and, as the profile of the sport here gathers pace along with structural developments, from a low base admittedly, it would seem clear that retaining her services makes admirable sense.

"We've got to think of the campaign as a whole and just build," insists Quinn. "We experienced things that maybe we haven't done before and now we've got to learn from that. That's all we can do now."

Republic of Ireland: Moloney; O'Gorman, Caldwell, Quinn, McCabe (capt); Finn (Molloy 80), Fahey; Payne, O'Sullivan, Littlejohn; Jarrett (Barrett 55).

Germany: Berger; Lohmann, Oberdorf, Hegering, Hendrich (Wolter 62); Leupolz, Dallmann (Marozsan h-t), Magull (Lattwein 75); Buhl (Schuller 75), Huth (capt), Wabmuth.

Ref: S Persson (Swe)


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