Jon Grey: Cymru ‘have to respect our opponent’ as they prepare to face Ireland in Tallaght friendly

As Cymru prepare to face the Republic of Ireland at Dublin’s Tallaght Stadium on Tuesday, interim manager Jon Grey addressed the media on Monday afternoon to offer an insight into his squad and how he plans to approach the game.

This will be Cymru’s first match of the international window – while Ireland managed to earn a respectable goalless draw against Italy in Firenze on Friday. Liverpool’s Leanne Kiernan looked to have scored the winner in the second half, only for her effort to be flagged offside.

‘We have to respect our opponent – Ireland are a fantastic side,’ Grey told reporters in his pre-match press conference. He continued, explaining that ‘they’ve got some real fantastic players, they’ve done really well and they’ve got that model that we want to do – we want to qualify for a major championship and they’ve just done it in the World Cup.’

‘They’ve made that step once and they’re probably looking to do it again. They’ve had a great Nations League campaign where they won every match and have been promoted. It’s a real good test for us again tomorrow to play against a top opponent who have some fantastic players.’

Grey has introduced a new generation of talent to the Cymru squad, with five uncapped players called up for the first time. Tianna Teisar, on loan at Cardiff City Ladies, has been forced to withdraw from the camp though – with Grey expressing that ‘it’s a real disappointing moment for Tianna. I’m sure there’ll be loads of moments where she’s involved with this group – not just now but in years to come as well. It’s disappointing that she’s ill but it’s one of the uncontrollables that she can’t control.’

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As for the other youngsters included in the squad, the interim manager assured reporters that ‘they’ve been excellent and they’ve fitted in really well. [They were] a little bit nervous at first, but the squad as a whole are a real good bunch of girls and they’ve made them feel welcome, integrated them into the Welsh family seamlessly.’

‘We’ve also had three U17s come in and have a couple of days with us at the beginning of the week which was really positive, they hopefully had a fantastic experience with us and it’s really good that we integrate these players into the pathway to make that transition from their age group sides to the seniors as seamless as possible.’

Grey informed reporters that ‘everyone’s trained and it was quite a lively session this morning, so everyone’s looking forward and ready to go for tomorrow.’

‘Preparation for the game has gone really well, the girls have been in a real good place and applied themselves brilliantly in the last week or so.’

He touched upon his personal pride, adding that taking charge of a Cymru side has been ‘a real honour and a privilege to lead this group on this camp. It’s something that you dream of as a little kid that you can be involved with your country, and to actually do it now is like a dream come true.’

‘I’m just so grateful for how the girls have been with myself, how much they seem to respect me in what they do and I can only thank them for that.’

Speaking about Grey, captain Sophie Ingle added that ‘he’s been great. I think obviously having him under Gemma [Grainger] for the last couple camps, he knows what it is to be Welsh, he knows how important it is for us to continue to improve and to be better every single camp.’

‘I think he has come in and just been great for us, I think. [He’s] just thrown confidence at us, and wanting us to play football. He holds us accountable, he doesn’t care if we make mistakes, and I think that’s a really good start for us.’

Cymru face the Republic of Ireland at Dublin’s Tallaght Stadium on Tuesday, with kickoff scheduled for 19:30 GMT. The match will be shown live in the Republic of Ireland on RTÉ 2, and in Wales on BBC Two.