Irish team a force for good as they blaze World Cup trail

by Gazette Reporter
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One wish I have I started this week with, is for at the Ireland ladies soccer team to have a great World Cup experience over the coming weeks.

By the time you read this the chances are the game in Sydney against hosts Australia will be over. However, win, lose or draw this Irish team under manager Vera Pauw have done themselves and the country proud. Is it too much to hope that they can do for the collective national spirit what Jack Charlton and the boys in green did for us back in 1990? I hope they do as we could all do with a such a lift.

It is incredible to think the strides ladies sports have taken over the past few decades – and this football team has come a long way since they were being treated as second class citizens by the FAI. Now the association is as proud of them as they are of the men’s team but more importantly, what Katie McCabe and her squad have done for girls growing up everywhere across the country is incalculable.

Yes, young girls in Dublin or Donegal can dream of playing for their country and can become idols for both young boys and girls who want to grow up and achieve on the sporting fields as well.

That to me is the great thing about sport – yes, the game is professional but the real payment is what players get from blazing a trail for those watching in.  We all saw the influence the English lionesses had on their country last year when they won the European championships for the first time.

Ireland has reached a World Cup finals for the first time and that in itself is a massive achievement. Anything further to do in Australia is a bonus but it would be something else if we could qualifying out of the group stages.

Let’s keepo our fingers crossed and enjoy the journey the ladies will take us on over the coming weeks. Overall it will be the most looked at ladies World Cup across the globe. It’s no longer a case that only men’s tournaments outside of the Olympics are of interest… these games will be watched by huge television audiences. LAdies sport is on an incredible upwards spiral and long may it continue.

Hunt  is on for Final Tickets as Dubs and Kerry go head to head

Dublin are back in an All Ireland final and what better way to win than by beating our archrivals Kerry in the final.

Both sides had plenty of problems against Monaghan and Derry in their respective semi-finals but those games are for winning and the important thing is to be still standing so that you can run out on Croke Park on All Ireland final day.

Already I know tickets are scarce as people go about ensuring they are present at the great national showpiece we hold each year in Ireland. Dublin-Kerry encounters are always special and I have a good feeling that Dublin will get revenge for last year’s semi-final defeat to the Kingdom by reclaiming the Sam Maguire on Sunday week.

Dublin haven’t really hit top form so far this year; they won the Div 2 final of the national league with a splendid second half showing against Derry and also cut loose in the quarter-final clash against Mayo. Other than that, they have struggled to hit the pitch of form which burnt off opponents during their six-in-a-row of Sams but something tells me Kerry will bring out the best in them.

Without any insider knowledge I expect that Ciaran Kilkenny will be back  from the throw-in on Sunday week and I think Con O’Callaghan is also due a big game – he is afterall a man for the big occasion, isn’t he?

 With Cormac Costello in the form of his life and Colm Pasquel stepping up considerably (he didn’t get any ball played to him on Sunday), and Paul Mannion ticking over nicely but with more to offer,  Dublin might have more scoring forwards than Kerry, who are over reliant on David Clifford to keep getting them out of jail. Yes, Sean O’Shea did step up in the second half and Stephen O’Brien and Paudie Clifford played cameo roles but Paul Geaney, Dara Moynighan and Adrian Spillane are not providing the support that is needed.

Similarly I think the Dublin midfield of either the two Brians – Fenton and Howard or maybe James McCarthy, is a better option than the Kerry pair of Jack Barry and Dairmuid O’Connor – which is why I’m quite optimistic that Dessie Farrell will land his second senior All Ireland as a manager.

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