FT Australia 1 Ireland 0: Women’s World Cup opener

The Matildas edge it in front of a huge Sydney crowd, follow the action as it happened ...


So that’s that ... Ireland lose their World Cup opener to hosts Australia but they do enough to build belief that they can pick up points and compete in their remaining Group B games against Canada and Nigeria. Some improved decision making, in particular in the final third will make all the difference, as the effort and organisation is there. If that opening game is anything to go by, this Irish team will improve as they go on. But for now, Ireland have played their first game at a Women’s World Cup, now to build on that!

Keep an eye on the homepage for the match report and reaction from Sydney. Thanks for joining us this morning.


FT Australia 1 Ireland 0


Vera Pauw: “It’s very disappointing. We said at half time this is a game that’ll be decided by one mistake and that’s what happened. I’m very proud. We brought on Abbie and Lucy and they came on very well and we put more pressure on them but you need to have a little bit of luck.

“Sam Kerr is one of the major top strikers in the world so her not playing was a major advantage for us but they have other great players. And they didn’t have many chances. I think a draw would’ve been a fair result and I think we’ve shown we are one of the top nations and we can compete.”


FT Australia 1 Ireland 0 And that’s that. The co-hosts get the job done without Sam Kerr. An excellent Irish effort, but they fall just short of picking up a precious point!

A penalty out of nothing proves the difference. Ireland defended well throughout and they improved in their attacking play as the game wore on. The substitutes made a big difference. But they only really had the free-kick and Katie McCabe’s late shot to show for it all.


Payne’s through ball makes it all the way to Larkin down the right flank. She pulls it back to McCabe who lets it across her body, onto her left foot. But that puts her under more pressure and her shot is saved. Ireland get the follow on play into the box but Louise Quinn’s header goes wide.


There’ll be an extra minute or two added on as an Australian player is down receiving treatment.


Australia 1 Ireland 0 (93′) McCabe’s free-kick is launched into the box, headed away by the home defence but Larkin is first to the second ball and gets a shot away. It’s well over the bar however.


A great ball in by Connolly. The goalkeeper flaps at it and it’s out for another. This time O’Sullivan gets a head on it back post but it’s well off target from a tight angle.


As six minutes injury time are announced, Connolly’s free kick is just over the crossbar. It got a touch off the wall. Corner to follow ...


Larkin goes on a little dribble down the right wing but opts to cross from outside the defender and there’s not enough whip on it so the goalkeeper gathers easily. Lucy Quinn then wins a free-kick on the edge of the box as she was pushed in the back contesting a header. This is a great position.


Atkinson is on for Carusa as Ireland make another change to try and get a goal back.


Australia 1 Ireland 0 (84′) McCabe looks for Quinn at the back post, the Matildas have the box packed though and they get a head to it. It falls to Larkin but her shot is blocked, and they finally clear the danger.


Ireland counter via Lucy Quinn and she does well to pick out Larkin but her first touch slows her down and then her pass is a poor one. The hosts counter and Quinn and Fahey make big blocks, O’Sullivan wins it on the edge of her box. Ireland counter themselves and win another corner ...


Larkin again makes space for herself down the right wing and she crosses early resulting in a fourth corner in short succession. McCabe again whips it on top of the goalkeeper but she’s been very strong so far and she grabs it. Time to mix things up from the corners!


McCabe’s long throw causes mayhem, Carusa can’t get a shot away and it falls then to Payne but she can’t get a clean connection on it. Much, much better from Ireland! They need to keep this pressure up now!


Australia 1 Ireland 0 (76′) Connolly takes this one, and again the goalkeeper gets a fist to it. It falls to O’Sullivan but comes at her awkwardly and her shot is well over. Ireland then win another corner through good work by Larkin and Payne. McCabe takes it, it’s headed clear back post.


Payne wins the second ball after a long clearance, she shows her pace to get down the right wing but her cross is half blocked and easily defended. Larkin then carries down the left flank after a little pass through by McCabe and she wins a corner.


Australia 1 Ireland 0 (71′) McCabe sends in Ireland’s first corner. She whips it right on top of the goalkeeper who under pressure from two Irish players just about gets a fist to it. The referee awards a soft free-kick to Mackenzie Arnold for that pressure.


Ireland overplay it in the back and Fahey sells her midfield short with a poor pass. Australia win it just outside the Irish box but Quinn gets a block on the subsequent shot. From the corner Foord heads across goal. Very close. At the other end Payne sends in a good cross but nobody attacks it, then on the other side Lucy Quinn whips in another but the goalkeeper fists clear. Things are opening up. (69 mins)


Young Larkin wins the ball and plays a good pass to settle her into things. But the hosts win it back quickly and are happy to keep the ball and control things these past few minutes.


On the hour mark Ireland trail by one goal. They are bringing on Lucy Quinn and Abbie Larkin. Sinead Farrelly and Sheva make way.


O’Sullivan wins it back for Ireland. Carusa rushes her through ball and Sheva was never going to have the legs to make up the ground. Again the decision making in the final third for Ireland really needs to improve.


A handball in the midfield gives Ireland another free kick but there’s too much on it and the Australian goalkeeper gathers.


McCabe wins a free-kick and there’s a bit of afters then. Connolly floats it in high and Quinn gets her head on it but it’s blocked. Then it falls to Farrelly but her pass back is a poor one and the move is over.


Australia 1 Ireland 0 (52′) Steph Catley buries it. No chance for Brosnan. The Australian captain opens the scoring!


Penalty Australia. The ball is sent into the box from the left. Sheva has her hands on Raso’s back. A bad one to give away as there wasn’t too much danger there.


Vine steps inside Payne but Fahey gets her body across the Australian and wins a free-kick. That was a clumsy looking challenge inside the box but job done.


Australia 0 Ireland 0 (47′) Ireland get the second half underway. This time Carusa does well to hold the play up and keep Ireland in possession. The Irish then get back-to-back free-kicks just inside the Australian half. The first is easily defended, from the second they opt to keep the ball rather than launch it into the box.


First half stats


Australia 64 per cent

Ireland 36 per cent


Australia 5 (1 on target)

Ireland 1 (0 on target)


Australia 3 (0 yellow cards)

Ireland 5 (1 yellow card)


Australia 5

Ireland 0


Australia 249

Ireland 142


HT Australia 0 Ireland 0 So far so good for Ireland. No major chances for either side. Ireland are growing in confidence on the ball and working hard off it. Decision making in the final third could definitely be improved where attacks are often ending before they even start with over eager or nervous passes. But you’d expect that’ll improve too as the game progresses.


The Australian’s play the ball in behind the Irish defence but Payne does superbly and makes a clean sliding challenge. Brosnan then comfortably gathers a shot from distance.


O’Sullivan, Carusa and Sheva work their socks off to win the ball back down the left flank but the latter is a bit too eager and gives away a free-kick.


A VAR check is underway for a possible penalty. The two teams and the referee don’t seem to know what’s going on. But play eventually resumes. Six minutes added on.


Some brilliant pressing by McCabe as the hosts try to keep possession across their back line. She forces it long. Farrelly makes the tackle in the corner and plays a smart little back flick to Payne to clear.


A harsh yellow for O’Sullivan. As much for her reaction as the tackle. The free kick is headed clear by Quinn again. She’s defending really well so far.


Foord holds it up in the right corner, spins the Irish defender and plays in a smart pass but no team mate is on her wavelength and Courtney Brosnan comes out to gather. From the next attack Quinn heads clear and then makes a good challenge on the follow up. (40 mins)


Some treatment for Katie McCabe delays play by a few minutes. She picked up a small knock making a challenge but seems fine, judging by the crunching tackle she’s just made on Raso.


A long throw-in by Carpenter is headed away by Connolly. Ireland win the second ball and O’Sullivan calms things down. Ireland are growing in confidence. Foord is then slipped in after a good bit of interplay by the hosts. But her shot from a tight angle is wide. (35 mins)


Australia 0 Ireland 0 (29′) Superb work by Carusa to win the ball on halfway and she carries to the edge of the box, but caught in two minds her pass is short. Ireland win it back and McCabe plays Marissa Sheva through down the left wing. Her cross isn’t great but the Australian goalkeeper makes a mess of it leading to another Irish cross but Ireland fail to create a proper chance out of some good play.


Megan Connolly miskicks it but Quinn is across quickly to clear it away. At the expense of a corner. Fahey didn’t know much about it but it’s off her head for another. This time Raso connects at the back post but it’s headed wide.


Denise O’Sullivan again wins back possession and Littlejohn picks out McCabe with a lovely crossfield pass. Ireland aren’t able to hold things up though when it goes forward. But it’s been much better from the Irish side in the past 10 minutes.


Australia 0 Ireland 0 (20′) Caitlin Foord receives a ball over the top coming in from the left wing, Fahey stands her up and Payne gets a foot in. Another corner follows and this time an Irish head gets to it first. Ireland counter and McCabe plays a brilliant through ball to Kyra Carusa but she waits for it and it’s cut out. A good half chance there for Ireland.


Clare Hunt gets caught under it at the back post and her header is high and wide.


McCabe’s delivery is flicked on by Kyra Carusa and it causes a bit of panic in the box but the Australians eventually clear. From the following attack they win a corner. (16 mins)


Katie McCabe cuts across from the left to win the second ball under a long Irish kickout. She carries it and sets up Ireland’s longest spell of possession. Over to Heather Payne on the right. Back to Quinn, who goes long and McCabe wins a free-kick.


Ruesha Littlejohn with a crunching tackle on 10 minutes to break up an Australian attack. Ellie Carpenter is getting on a lot of ball at right back for the hosts but her last two deliveries have been overhit.


Hayley Raso works some space down the right wing, but Louise Quinn deals with her cross in. Ireland though give it away immediately with a sloppy pass.


More great work by O’Sullivan to win it back in the middle and force a throw in. She’s showing no signs of injury here early on. Ireland yet to get on the ball in the opening seven minutes.


Niamh Fahey cuts across to clear the danger after Australia get in behind Heather Payne. The throw in leads to the first corner of the game which Ireland defend well. And Denise O’Sullivan chases the second ball down to win it back.


Australia 0 Ireland 0 (1′) GAME ON! The hosts kick things off and Ireland’s first ever Women’s World Cup game is underway!


The teams have paused for a moment’s silence to pay their respects to the victims of the Auckland shooting.


The teams are out in Sydney. Less than 10 minutes until kick-off!! A huge roar greets them from the 75,000 sell-out crowd.


Denise O’Sullivan live from Sydney: “To finally be here, it’s been a long journey. It’s a dream come true. We want to do the country proud, we know how excited everyone is back home. We are going to give it everything.

“I’m 100 per cent fit.”


The pre-match press conference thoughts of Ireland’s captain and manager below ...


And now a bit on the opposition, and how the Matildas went from an afterthought to the pride of Australia ...

“Today, the Matildas are one of Australia’s most popular national sporting teams, comfortably ahead of the men’s rugby union team. Chelsea and Matildas’ star Sam Kerr was ranked number one last year in ESPN’s Australian Sports Power Rankings.

“The Perth native also graced the cover of EA Sport’s Fifa 2023 video game with Kylian Mbappe. At the Tokyo Olympics, 2.32 million Australian viewers watched the Olympic semi-final against Sweden. The Matildas are undoubtedly a beloved brand in Australian sport.”


If we stay compact and play far, far above ourselves we might catch someone cold in the coming fortnight. Just the once so we can beep the horns.

—  Karen Duggan column




World Cup poster girl Sam Kerr out of Ireland game with calf injury

By Gavin Cummiskey, in Sydney

Australian captain Sam Kerr is out of this morning’s opening World Cup Group B match against Ireland with a calf injury.

The Chelsea striker damaged her calf in training yesterday evening.

“Sam will be unavailable for the next two matches with the Matildas medical team to re-assess her following our second group stage match,” the Australian camp confirmed.

Kerr, who has scored 63 goals in 120 appearances for the Matildas, is also definitely out of the Nigeria game on July 27th, but her chances of featuring at the tournament at all is now in doubt.

Australia’s final Group B game is against Olympic champions Canada on July 31st.

Mary Fowler, the 20 year-old Manchester City forward with Dublin roots, starts in place of Kerr.


A surprise result in the other co-host’s opener ...



Denise O’Sullivan starts, Irish team lines out as expected.

Australia – Arnold; Carpenter, Hunt, Kennedy, Catley; raso, Cooney-Cross, Gorry, Vine; Foord, Fowler.

Ireland – Brosnan; Payne, Fahey, Quinn, Connolly, McCabe; Littlejohn, O’Sullivan, Farrelly, Sheva; Carusa.


BREAKING NEWS: Australia captain Sam Kerr is out of this morning’s World Cup Group B match against Ireland with a calf injury. She picked up the injury in training and will miss the opening two group games. What a blow to the co-hosts!!


Check out our comprehensive guide to Group B here where Ireland and Australia are also joined by Canada and Nigeria ...

And here’s your complete guide to the tournament’s fixtures and results, with the full schedule of matches, the route to the final and the race for the golden boot.



If the Matildas’ score early, a boisterous crowd can demand three, four goals. The Irish defence will struggle to contain Kerr and Caitlin Foord, and Fowler off the bench. The evidence is stacked heavily in favour of an Australia victory. Ireland can be, must be, competitive. Batten down the hatches.

Check out Gavin Cummiskey’s preview in full here while his predicted starting teams are below ...

AUSTRALIA (possible): Mackenzie Arnold; Ellie Carpenter, Clare Hunt, Alanna Kennedy, Steph Catley; Hayley Raso, Kyra Cooney-Cross, Katrina Gorry, Cortnee Vine; Caitlin Foord, Sam Kerr (capt).

IRELAND (possible): Courtney Brosnan; Heather Payne, Niamh Fahey, Louise Quinn, Megan Connolly, Katie McCabe; Denise O’Sullivan, Ruesha Littlejohn; Sinead Farrelly, Marissa Sheva; Kyra Carusa.

Referee: Edina Alvez (Brazil)


Hello and welcome ... Ireland are about to open their World Cup Group B campaign against co-hosts Australia. In the country’s first ever Women’s World Cup fixture, Vera Pauw’s team will be in action in Stadium Australia in Sydney, in front of a sell-out crowd of 75,000 in the redeveloped Olympic ground on this seminal morning for Irish sport.

Australia are making their eighth appearance at a World Cup and have yet to progress past the quarter-final stage but this Matildas side are one of the top teams in the tournament. With Chelsea’s Sam Kerr leading the line up top, they present a massive challenge backed by their home crowd for this opening fixture.

On the injury front Denise O’Sullivan is fit. The midfielder has recovered from the shin injury sustained against Colombia and she trained earlier this week.

Ireland v Australia kicks-off at Stadium Australia in Sydney at 11am Irish time.

We’ll be providing build-up and updates throughout. Keep in touch via the comments section or on Twitter (@DonoghueEamon) but for now, let’s get started!

World Cup Group B: Australia v Republic of Ireland, Stadium Australia, Thursday, 11am Irish time (Live RTÉ 2)