Republic of Ireland manager Martin O’Neill praised the second half efforts of his side, as they came from a goal ...Sun, Jun 11 2017
The Republic of Ireland finished in their highest-ever position of fourth at the Cyprus Cup despite suffering the first defeat of Colin Bell's spell as manager to North Korea in Limasol.
Late goals from Wi Jong Sim and Kim Ryu Song earned the Koreans a hard-fought victory as the Irish remained in contention right up to the end.
The Girls in Green had topped Group C, which housed the four lowest-ranked sides, with wins over the Czech Republic and Wales and a draw with Hungary without conceding a goal in the process.
The Democratic People's Republic of Korea presented a much sterner task however, as their FIFA ranking of tenth made them the highest-ranked side in the competition, 24 places ahead of Ireland.
Ireland continued the strong defensive form of the groups into the placing game as they sat back to deal with the Koreans' numerous attacking threats.
It took until the 75th minute for North Korea to make their pressure count as Wi's cross deceived Ireland keeper Emma Byrne and sailed into the top corner.
And five minutes from time, Kim sealed third spot for the favourites with a 30-yard shot again sailing into Byrne's top right-hand corner.
"It's a difficult result to take. We should have got something out of the game,” Bell told FAI.ie.
"We were always going to have to be defensive against a side who play the way they do but we did that brilliantly for 75 minutes. Both goals are preventable and the players know that.
"We can do better and, even though we've had a good tournament, I know the players can do more as we can continue to work with each other in the future.
"Once again, the players have put in a fantastic effort, like they have all week and the players can be really proud of what they've achieved as they've represented their country brilliantly this week.
"It gives me great hope for the future that the longer we work together, the more we can push this team forward to some real success."