Cymru start new year with impressive victory over Republic of Ireland

Cymru kicked off 2024 with an impressive 2-0 friendly victory over the Republic of Ireland at Tallaght Stadium.

Jess Fishlock broke the deadlock inside the seventh minute before Lily Woodham doubled their advantage with a wonderful first-time strike later in the first half.

Jon Grey made one change from the last fixture against Germany in December. Hayley Ladd replaced Charlie Estcourt in the starting line up, with Cymru’s interim head coach opting to stick with five in defence which proved successful in the goalless draw last time out.

It was Cymru’s first game off the back of a difficult UEFA Women’s Nations League campaign but there were no signs of a relegation hangover in Dublin. They went ahead when the home defence failed to deal with a corner and Hayley Ladd’s cutback found an unmarked Fishlock, who fired home the opening goal early on.

Elise Hughes then came close to adding a second from another corner but saw her header go wide, before Liv Clark produced an unbelievable save to somehow keep out Amber Barrett’s effort from point-blank range.

Woodham then doubled the lead inside the 22nd minute as she got on the end of a flick on from Hughes, who caused problems for the home side throughout, and rifled in a first-time strike into the top left corner.

Cymru were in control at the break and Grey made six changes in the second half as he handed London City Lionesses captain Lois Joel her debut. Aside from Barrett’s first-half effort, the home side failed to ask too many questions of Clark in the Cymru goal and Grey’s side were able to see out the victory. 

New head coach Rhian Wilkinson would have been pleased with what she saw in Dublin as she gets set to manage the side for the first time in the April window.

Cymru will learn their opponents for the qualifying campaign when the draw for the UEFA Women’s Euro 2025 qualifiers takes place on Tuesday 5 March in Nyon, Switzerland.

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