'I've watched it back now about 100 times, I was very thankful for Louise to have my back'

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'I've watched it back now about 100 times, I was very thankful for Louise to have my back'
© Laszlo Geczo INPHO Courtney Brosnan file pic .

THERE HAS arguably been no Irish player more under the microscope so far in this World Cup campaign than Courtney Brosnan.

A mistake in the last set of qualifying matches for the Euros amid a 1-0 defeat Ukraine — a result that seriously dented the team’s hopes of progression — was followed by Brosnan dropping to the bench for the final qualifier against Germany, as Reading’s Grace Moloney was preferred.

Some eyebrows were raised when Brosnan was restored to the starting XI for this campaign, but the Everton goalkeeper impressed in the opening two games, justifying her manager’s faith in the process.

The fact that Brighton goalkeeper Megan Walsh has recently been drafted into the squad, after the former England underage international was finally declared available for Ireland after a lengthy eligibility process, led to renewed question marks over the security of Brosnan’s position in the team.

However, manager Vera Pauw says the 26-year-old will retain the number one jersey for tonight’s game against Georgia and Brosnan welcomes the added competition provided by Walsh.

“Obviously, here we’ve always had strong goalkeepers and good competition, so adding Megan has been great. We all offer different things and it’s good when you train and bounce off each other to improve and get better. So I think it’s been amazing, it’s been really good for me to have another goalkeeper there to push you. I think everyone wants to continue to improve and be their best selves and go out there so the competition has been really exciting and healthy.”

After the accomplished displays in the last international window, Brosnan had one near-disastrous moment against Slovakia, as she miscontrolled the ball at one point, leading to a Laura Žemberyová chance that required a spectacular goalline clearance from Louise Quinn. 

It was the type of error that will invite further doubts over her status as Ireland’s number one, but it should also be noted that moments before, Brosnan made an excellent save to keep Alexandra Biróová’s diving header out.

Of the mistake, Brosnan adds: “I’ve watched it back now about 100 times, I was very thankful for Louise to have my back there and that’s why you play team sports. We’re all there to support each other and pick each other up when mistakes do happen. Mistakes happen all over the pitch, I think it was just a bad touch and happy that it didn’t go in the net.

“As a goalkeeper, something I was taught from such a young age is to have such a short memory, that’s one of the most important things, bouncing back from mistakes and staying present in the moment. No matter what happens, you make an unbelievable save or you make a mistake, it’s important to stay calm and composed, stay in the moment and just continue to focus on your role in the team.”

There was a sense of disappointment that Ireland could not follow up an encouraging victory away to Finland — the team most people expect to challenge Pauw’s side for second place in the group — with another three points against the Slovaks. However, Brosnan suggests a direct comparison between these two fixtures should not be made, given the different challenges that playing these two sides presents, and the goalkeeper felt an inability to convert chances was one of the primary reasons for last week’s slip up.

“They are two completely different teams, so going out onto the pitch it’s going to be two different types of games. So I don’t think you can compare it so directly. We all went out into that first half [against Slovakia] hoping to come out strong, start strong and get some opportunities in front of goal. When that doesn’t happen, it gets a bit frustrating when you can’t score early.”

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As was the case with Slovakia, most people are expecting Ireland to beat Georgia this evening. Brosnan, though, is taking nothing for granted.

“They play a lot of long balls in that space in behind, so it’s important for us to be quick on the counter-press to stop those long balls and then have the defenders and the goalkeeper defending that space in behind to hope that they get as few chances as possible.”

Ireland are likely to dominate for long periods, but Brosnan knows her concentration must remain high so that if sporadic chances do come for the visitors, as they probably will, she is at her most alert in attempting to stop them.

“As a goalkeeper, you play in so many different types of matches. You have matches where you face 20 shots and then you have matches where you maybe face one or zero shots. Concentration is one of the most important things. So in training, you prepare yourself to be ready, whether the moment comes for one save or whether there are no saves. You just perform your role to help the team as best you can.”

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