A towering performance from the 33-year-old.
I must start off with an admission – I had a concern over Louise Quinn, coming into the World Cup. She had it tough in a warm-up against Zambia, at Tallaght Stadium, and Courtney Brosnan got her out of jail on a couple of occasions.
Zambia are a strong, pacy outfit and Quinn was not the only one to be caught on the hop, but she was left the most exposed. Heading over to Australia to take on the hosts, Olympic champions Canada, and Nigeria, I felt Ireland could be taking a big risk with Quinn and 35-year-old Niamh Fahey in their defence.
In Sydney, the duo quelled any such doubts and delivered towering defensive performances. Between them, they made nine clearances and protected the goal of Courtney Brosnan as if their lives depended on it.
The only time the Aussies looked threatening was from set-pieces, both Fahey and Quinn both stepped up there, too. That is why the hopeful Aussie punt into the Irish box, which led to Marissa Sheva giving away a clumsy penalty was so disappointing. It opened the door a crack and Stephanie Catley crashed through with a well taken spot-kick.
With a team stacked with Manchester City, Arsenal, Lyon and Real Madrid stars, Australia were still locked and loaded, even without the injured Sam Kerr. Fahey and Quinn took everything that the hosts could throw at them and shut it all down.
There were moments, not long after that Catley penalty, when Ireland lost their shape for the next three or four minutes. Stung by the goal, they pushed forward but were picked off by a couple of Australian through-balls. On one occasion, Quinn snuffed out the danger. On the other, both her and Fahey slid in and prevented a shot on Brosnan’s goal.
Vera Pauw changed things up by bringing on Abbie Larkin and Lucy Quinn and that introduction, along with some Aussie stage-fright, led to Ireland’s best spell of the match. Encouraged by that, Pauw sent Louise Quinn up front in that Shane Duffy role. Amber Barrett must have been stewing, on the bench, but Quinn did cause ructions and had the last Irish glimpse of the Australian goal:
Katie McCabe and Louise Quinn both go close late on, but we can't find the breakthrough
?? 1-0 ??#coygig #wwc2023
?Updates https://t.co/YLBQxszzTF pic.twitter.com/udlbDYkSIA
— RTÉ Soccer (@RTEsoccer) July 20, 2023
Louise Quinn set for two more big challenges
The excellent performances of Niamh Fahey and Louise Quinn, in that losing effort, should be encouraging for Ireland supporters, ahead of the next two big games, against Canada and Nigeria.
The Irish defence held up well to its first big challenge and both Larkin and Lucy Quinn will be pushing for starting roles. The big problem for Ireland is the one most of us feared, heading into the World Cup – where are the goals coming from?
Denise O’Sullivan and Katie McCabe are the squad’s joint top scorers with 18 apiece but, as midfielders, their respective returns are one in four matches and one in five. Amber Barrett (seven goals in 36 games) and Larkin will be pushing Kyra Carusa hard for a starting spot against the Canadians, next Wednesday.
As for Louise Quinn, more credit in the bank and I won’t be as quick to doubt her again.