1 PM on a school day might not be the greatest time in which to inspire children to follow their dreams in sport, then again it could be the best time of all.
20X20 and the FAI are encouraging young girls in schools across the country to plead with their teachers today to let them watch the latest step on the journey of the Republic of Ireland Women’s National team away against Greece in Athens.
The game has a lunchtime kick-off but as we revealed yesterday RTÉ has worked hard with the European Broadcasting Union, the Greek FA, the FAI and UEFA to make sure that fans back home can watch.
The team has gotten off to a strong start in qualification with wins over Montenegro and Ukraine, the latter in front of a record crowd at Tallaght Stadium. Greece are fresh off a 4-0 win over Montenegro though, and will present a challenge.
The nine group winners and the three best runners-up (not counting results against the sixth-placed team) qualify directly for the final tournament, while the remaining six runners-up advance to the play-offs.
A win would move Ireland onto nine points, behind Germany with four wins to date so far but well ahead of their other group rivals.
“We go into this game aiming to get the win but also knowing that a draw does not kick us out of the qualification race,” said team manager Vera Pauw.
“We have to be realistic where we stand in order to have success and that means being aware of how strong Germany are and that we are fighting for second place.”
“That is not to suggest that Greece will be an easy opponent. They are very dangerous on the counter-attack and at set-pieces, plus they have some influential players who can make a difference. We know that we will have to play well in order to get the win.”
“We have been dealing with a few injuries coming into camp, but we can only get stronger from this. It is an opportunity for others to step up and for players to get a chance in the starting line-up. It is up to the talented players to show themselves.”
“The week building up to this game has been very good. We had to travel but that is part of football and we planned for it. Everything went very smoothly and we have settled in very well. We trained at the stadium on Monday and now we are ready for the game.”
“It would be very positive to follow on from our previous games with another win, but we are taking everything game by game.”
Coverage on RTÉ2 kicks off at 1245 with Peter Collins presenting from studio and analysis coming from Áine O’Gorman and Alan Cawley. Darragh Maloney is on commentary with Lisa Fallon and Tony O’Donoghue.