Experience can help Ireland take decisive step towards Euro finals

In Kiev this evening, the Irish soccer team continue their attempts to establish a new identity for themselves.

nly by trying to forget history can they make it.

From the slippery ice rink in Iceland which ended their Euro 2009 hopes under Noel King, to the slip-ups against Norway which cost them a World Cup chance under Colin Bell, Ireland’s recent history is littered with missed chances and fluffed opportunities.

“The Norway game away was the breaking point for us,” says captain Katie McCabe of the 2-0 home defeat two years ago which scuppered their World Cup hopes.

“That was it for us, it was over. It does hurt. You see pictures and stuff pop up of your immediate reaction when the whistle blew at the end of the game. It does hurt.

“We have a lot of players still in the squad who will remember that pain and with the new girls coming in they will understand where we are coming from with that.”

Niamh Fahey was there too; then again, she was also there a decade earlier when Iceland thumped the Irish 6-0 in the second-leg of a play-off for a European Championship, the sole survivor from a period in Irish football that is forgotten by all except those who experienced it.

Now 33, she will earn her 92nd cap this evening and knows this could be the last-chance saloon for her; but instead of seeking an escape from history, she seeks to exploit its teachings in a different way.

“Not many of us have been used to dealing with disappointments,” she attempts to reason. “I’d flip it. Lots of this group came from that successful underage team that qualified for the World Cup,…

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