On Tuesday 9 April, Ireland hosted England in Dublin for the first competitive fixture between the two nations since 1986 and were defeated 0-2 by the visitors. 

The last time the Girls in Green and the Lionesses met was in 2014 for a friendly.

But on Tuesday England captain Leah Williamson led her to team to victory as she made her international return after her ACL injury a year ago.

First half

Kyra Carusa, Ireland’s sole forward in the 5-4-1 lineup, kicked off at the Aviva and both keepers were gently tested in the first ten minutes.

A Katie McCabe corner was grabbed by Hannah Hampton and a weak Alessia Russo header bounced into Courtney Brosnan’s arms.

It was Chelsea forward Lauren James who made it 0-1 for the Lionesses with just eleven minutes on the clock.

Lucy Bronze’s header from a Keira Walsh long ball deflected off Anna Patten and found James in the perfect position to score a great opener.

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Patten is formerly an England U-23 captain and just made her senior debut for Ireland this international break.

In the 16th minute, Jess Park beat Ruesha Littlejohn to the ball and took a shot that bounced off Littlejohn.

The referee gave England a penalty for an Ireland handball as Littlejohn’s arms were up in an unnatural position.

Alex Greenwood took the penalty and converted, putting England up 0-2 inside the opening 20 minutes.

Ten minutes later, England was awarded a controversial second penalty after Louise Quinn collided into Russo who kicked the ball into Quinn’s elbow.

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Greenwood failed to convert it this time and Ireland were saved by the post.

At the 38th minute, a brilliant tackle from Williamson allowed for the Lionesses to counterattack but James’s shot was saved comfortably by Brosnan.

Two minutes later, a clever clip over from Russo put Bronze in an excellent position to score a third but she skied it.

England struggled to defend a McCabe corner at the end of the first half but managed to clear the danger right before the whistle blew.

Second half

Ireland made the only change at halftime, subbing off Littlejohn for Megan Connolly.

England made their first changes of the game in the 56th minute: Jess Park and Lauren Hemp off for Fran Kirby and Beth Mead. Ireland soon followed: Heather Payne and Lucy Quinn off for Leanne Kiernan and Megan Campbell.

Campbell immediately took a throw-in for Ireland and launched a rocket from 38 meters away directly into the box—but it was cleared.

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A minute later, with Carusa charging at her, Hampton was put under pressure to send the ball out of play and Ireland won another throw-in closer to the box this time.

It was likewise taken by Campbell before Walsh decisively headed it away.

In the 64th minute, a James cross headed in by Mead for Kirby was saved at point-blank range by Brosnan’s knee and Ireland kept the scoreline at 0-2.

A clearance from an England freekick fell to Ella Toone who went for goal but the well-taken shot was over the bar. She was then subbed off for Georgia Stanway.

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The last 15 minutes of regular time saw a strong high press from Ireland that created a series of scoring opportunities for the home team.

At the 76th minute, a McCabe free kick was excellently clipped over by Louise Quinn but the Girls in Green disappointingly did not get on the ball well enough to get a goal from it.

With just under 15 minutes to go, England made the final changes, taking off James for Chloe Kelly and Russo for Rachel Daly.

Unknown to fans at the time, this was Daly’s last England game and she made her announcement from International football the next morning.

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In the second minute of added time, England had their final chance to get a third after an enduring Irish offensive but the weak shot from Kelly bounced into Brosnan’s hands.

McCabe received the only yellow card of the match as the Aviva loudspeakers cinematically awarded her Ireland’s Player of the Match.

Immediately before full-time, Campbell’s freekick was headed into Hampton’s arms by Louise Quinn and Ireland remained goalless.

The game ended 0-2 with an anti-climactic second half for the Lionesses due to a significantly improved performance from the Girls in Green.

They will meet again for the second leg of this match-up when England hosts Ireland in July.

Featured image courtesy of Dana Graham.

By Jenny Chen

Jenny recently graduated with a double major in Political Science and in Women’s & Gender Studies. She is formerly a law exchange at the University of Edinburgh. She is currently teaching English in Spain while on her gap years before law school. Her hobbies include writing, traveling, and women’s football.