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‘A tough loss but not the end of the world’

Republic of Ireland midfielder Ruesha Littlejohn said the hosts were the cause of their own downfall in their 2-0 loss at home to Wales in Tallaght.

In her second game as permanent boss, Eileen Gleeson suffered her first defeat since taking charge – originally on an interim basis – ahead of the Nations League in the autumn.

An impressive Welsh side, who were demoted from League A late last year but still mustered a 0-0 draw with powerhouse Germany, exploded into life in Dublin, going 2-0 up inside the opening 25 minutes through goals from Jess Fishlock and Lily Woodham.

Speaking afterwards to RTÉ Sport, Littlejohn echoed her manager’s comments that Ireland were sloppy in possession.

“I think it’s safe to say the best team won on the night. I don’t think we created many chances.

“We were maybe caught in transition a few times. I think the possession we gave away was very cheap. It’s very fast out there on the grass and the ball was moving very quickly. I think we were a bit flat-footed at times.

“One of the goals was from a set-piece and that’s not like us. They got a block on one of our players, they’re a big team, they’re aggressive.”

Jess Fishlock celebrates scoring the opener

Gleeson has been hailed for promoting a more expansive, adventurous approach in the autumn, albeit against League B opposition.

Having built their successful World Cup qualifying campaign principally on resolute defence, Littlejohn acknowledges the team have to evolve if they’re going to continue to reach major tournaments.

“We know our strengths are defending and being hard to break down. But we need to develop, we need to get better.

“And if we want to keep qualifying for tournaments, we need to progress. We need to be better at playing football, keeping the ball, moving the ball. I think that’s the next stage of our development.

“Look at the Nations League, I don’t think any of us expected it to go so well. It’s not good to get a defeat but at the same time, it’s good to go through it.

“And then we have to work harder and get back to the training pitch. It’s a tough loss but it’s not the end of the world.”

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