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UEFA Euro 2025 qualifiers: France v Ireland AYNTK

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FRIDAY

France v Republic of Ireland, Saint-Smyphorien Stadium, Metz, 8.10pm (Irish time)

ONLINE

Follow a live blog on rte.ie/sport and the RTÉ News app

TV

Watch France v Republic of Ireland in Euro 2025 qualifying from 7.35pm on RTÉ2 and RTÉ Player

RADIO

Listen to commentary on 2fm’s Game On


Top table feast of football for Ireland women’s team

Careful what you wish for, some might say, and it rings true for the Ireland women’s national team as they embark on a daunting journey through the League A European qualifiers.

Drawn in a group against some of the toughest teams in Europe – League A contains the top 16 ranked sides by UEFA – Eileen Gleeson’s squad are currently 25th in the FIFA standings, and they have been tasked with a mammouth mountain to climb as they encounter first France – ranked third in the world – followed by the English, second in world, and then Sweden, who are currently sitting just outside the top five in sixth spot.

And while Ireland have been handed a particularly challenging test, it’s the only real downside of securing promotion to League A, the top tier.

Realistically, Ireland have little chance of securing an automatic qualification spot from their four-team group, with just the top two qualifying for the 2025 tournament in Switzerland.

However, the eight teams that do not qualify by that route head into the play-offs with an excellent chance of making it to the Euros. Should Ireland take that avenue, they will have to play a League C team in the first round of play-offs followed by, most likely, one of the League B sides.

Ireland will need to be one of the top seven ranked going into the playoffs or else they could face a League A side in the second play-off round.

For that reason, Ireland will be anxious to keep things tight in their group and any points that they do accumulate could prove vital in the latter stages.

But first the French!

There are certainly no easy games in international football when it comes to this six-match shootout with a trip to France first up for the Ireland team.

France topped their group at the World Cup last summer but it was not the classic performance that was expected from the highly rated outfit as they laboured to a stalemate against Jamaica in their opener.

They would exit the tournament in the quarter-final stage, losing out on penalties to Australia, a team that needed a spot-kick to get past Ireland in Group B.

So something for Ireland to use as a motivating factor that tomorrow’s opponents are not the finished article, however, they did impress in their recent Nations League campaign, as they won their group before beating Germany 2-1 in the semi-finals, with Spain proving too much in the decider.

A good time to get the difficult away day to France out of the way as Ireland will look to keep things very tight at the back and hope that their opponents are slow out of the blocks on the campaign trail, which could lead to an unlikely result for Gleeson’s outsiders.

Katie McCabe training at the stadium ahead of the opening qualifier

Strong squad to choose from

Eileen Gleeson appears to have a full squad to choose from of the travelling party. The coach will be looking to bounce back from that disappointing 2-0 defeat to Wales in February, but rather draw on last year’s clean sweep in the Nations League, combined with the encouraging away draw with Italy earlier this year.

Niamh Fahey was ruled out of this one ahead of the game, however, there will be a strong sense of continuity in this side with key players like Katie McCabe, Denise O’Sullivan and Courtney Brosnan involved, while it is time for some of the emerging talent to start putting pressure on the more experienced players to offer an improved version of what was on offer at the World Cup.

The transition of the next generation is already very much in progress with the likes of Izzy Atkinson, Jess Ziu, Tyler Toland and Abbie Larkin all well past the double digit mark in terms of Ireland appearances, and they will really get a chance to see where they are at in terms of their development in Metz tomorrow night.

France manager Herve Renard has thrown a bit of a spanner into the build-up to his side’s game by announcing that he will not be around for the 2025 tournament, which offers Ireland more hope that the impossible could be possible in this opening encounter.

What the coaches said

Herve Renard

Aside from ruling himself out of the Ireland men’s job, the France head coach is expecting a tough challenge for his side with the arrival of Eileen Gleeson’s outfit in their first competitive fixture of the qualifiers.

“It’s a very good team with a strong organisation,” he said. “We know everything about this team. We respect them and tomorrow we have to be at 100% to be able to win.

“They have improved a lot because you are getting some experience when you play at the World Cup. I’m sure they know they are in a very tough group, with a big derby (England) and also two very good teams like Sweden and France. I’m sure they are very motivated.”

Eileen Gleeson

The Ireland head coach is coming into this campaign full of hope and ambition, irrespective of her side’s esteemed opponents. Gleeson is aiming for a win to kick-off the road to Switzerland.

“To win! We are coming here to compete and to try and win the game, affect the game in whatever way we can,” she said.

“That has to be the starting point – we are coming to win the game.

“This is where we are, this is where we want to be. This is the draw we got. In terms of Irish women’s football, it is super important to be consistent and to sustain consistent qualification into major tournaments and this is a step along that process.

“We had our first World Cup but we don’t want it to stop there, we want to continue, we want to qualify for more.”

Ireland squad

Goalkeepers: Courtney Brosnan (Everton), Grace Moloney (London City Lionesses), Sophie Whitehouse (Lewes)

Defenders: Jessie Stapleton (Reading – on loan from West Ham United), Diane Caldwell (FC Zurich), Caitlin Hayes (Celtic), Louise Quinn (Birmingham City), Aoife Mannion (Manchester United), Anna Patten (Aston Villa), Megan Campbell (London City Lionesses)

Midfielders: Katie McCabe (Arsenal), Denise O’Sullivan (North Carolina Courage), Megan Connolly (Bristol City), Lily Agg (Birmingham City), Ruesha Littlejohn (London City Lionesses), Tyler Toland (Blackburn Rovers), Heather Payne (Everton), Izzy Atkinson (Crystal Palace), Jess Ziu (West Ham United), Lucy Quinn (Birmingham City), Erin McLaughlin (Peamount United)

Forwards: Kyra Carusa (San Diego Wave), Abbie Larkin (Crystal Palace), Amber Barrett (Standard Liege), Leanne Kiernan (Liverpool), Emily Murphy (Wake Forest University)

Watch France v Republic of Ireland in Euro 2025 qualifying on Friday from 7.35pm on RTÉ2 and RTÉ Player, follow a live blog on rte.ie/sport and the RTÉ News app and listen to commentary on 2fm’s Game On

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