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Ireland abandons World Cup tune-up due to ‘overly physical’ play

Brisbane , Australia - 14 July 2023; Linda Caicedo of Columbia in action against Heather Payne of Republic of Ireland during the women's friendly match between Republic of Ireland and Colombia at Meakin Park in Brisbane, Australia, ahead of the start of the FIFA Women's World Cup 2023. (Photo By Stephen McCarthy/Sportsfile via Getty Images)

Ireland abandoned its pre-World Cup friendly against Colombia just 20 minutes into the match after the play became “overly physical,” the Football Association of Ireland announced.

Midfielder Denise O’Sullivan was on the receiving end of a heavy tackle was taken to the hospital for treatment for a shin injury, per reports. According to the Guardian, O’Sullivan is set to undergo tests, with the results expected Saturday.

“The behind-closed-doors game between the Ireland Women’s National Team and Colombia on Friday evening was ended after 20 minutes of play,” the FAI said in its statement. “The game, which was held in Meakin Park, Brisbane, became overly physical and it was decided, following consultation with the match officials, to end the game.”

Ireland switched to a full training session following the abandonment of the match.

In its own statement, Colombia noted that Ireland had “preferred not to continue playing” and defended the behavior of its players.

“Although all the processes and training of our teams are framed within the rules of the game, healthy competition and fair play, among others, we respect the decision of our rival team,” the team said in a statement.

The match represented the final tune-up for Ireland before its World Cup opener, which is set for next Thursday against Australia.

Both teams had invited Irish media to observe the game, but a Colombia team official denied access at the last minute, the Irish Independent reported. That decision was supported by a FIFA representative.

According to the Independent, referee Caitlin Williams issued two yellow cards within the first 19 minutes for robust challenges, which included the game-ending tackle.