** Katie McCabe tracks Pia-Sophie Walter. Picture: Eóin Noonan/Sportsfile
Republic of Ireland captain Katie McCabe hopes manager Vera Pauw will sign on for the 2023 World Cup campaign following a spirited, but ultimately, unsuccessful Euro qualifying campaign.
A 3-1 defeat to world number two Germany saw Ireland pipped to second place and a play-off for a spot in the finals in England to Ukraine.
For a long time, it seemed a draw on Tuesday would be enough as Ukraine were drawing at home to bottom-placed Montenegro, particularly when McCabe made it 2-1 from the spot right on half time.
A late goal in Kyiv, plus a third Germany strike late on, put paid to those notions but Ireland can be proud of their performance.
Germany typically dominated the majority of the game, but the penalty that led to the opening goal, awarded against McCabe for a foul on Tabea Wassmuth, was soft in the extreme.
Lina Magull slotted it away, though only just as Grace Moloney went the right way, while Wassmuth herself added a second from the edge of the box before the half hour.
Ireland went into the break with hope after Denise O’Sullivan was fouled in the act of shooting and McCabe, exorcising her demons from Ukraine, found the top corner with an expertly-taken spot-kick.
Ireland pushed forward in the second half and finished with four players up front, but Wassmuth settled the tie for good six minutes from time with another fine shot from distance.
“I’m devastated that the campaign is over but I’m really proud of the girls tonight,” McCabe told the media after the game.
“It was really nice to get back in the game and I thought we could edge it. As good a team as they are, I thought we had a threat up front and we were solid at the back.
“The last ten minute, we put Louise [Quinn] up to start winning some headers and some knock-ons.
“That’s the chance you and take and, unfortunately, we were caught short at the back.
“I think we left everything out there and I can’t wait for 2021 now. We really need to build off this campaign.
“We’ve got a lot of talent coming through and massive experienced heads. I’m really excited for what the future holds with the team and I’m very proud to be leading them.”
The Kilnamanagh woman paid tribute to Pauw, who said after the game that she is keen to stay on after a promising campaign that crashed thanks to one bad away result in Kyiv.
“I’ve really enjoyed playing under Vera. When she came in, her first game against Ukraine here, we were scoring goals, exciting play, we got the record crowd going and we missed them here tonight.
“That was the start of it and she really believes that we can attack teams and we’re not sitting off them. We’re front-foot in attack.
“We put ourselves against the best there tonight.
“If Germany don’t go and win the Euros, I’d be surprised. They’re a top-quality team.”