Swords native Finn savours “unreal” experience in Irish debut

by Dave Donnelly
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SWORDS native Jamie Finn has set her sights on one day playing professional football after making her senior international bow in the 1-1 draw away to Greece last week.

The versatile Shelbourne star played all 90 minutes as Vera Pauw’s side were denied victory by an equaliser deep into injury time, and surrendered their 100% record in Euro 2021 qualifying.

Former Peamount United and current FC Koln striker, Amanda Barrett had given the visitors the lead midway through the first half with a delightfully-improvised dink over the Greece keeper.

Barrett’s second international goal looked set to be enough for Ireland to make it three wins from three in qualifying, but Anastasia Spyridonidou struck in the third added minute to snatch a point.

The disappointment was at least tempered by the trust placed in her by the newly-installed Pauw, who liked what she saw from the Shels midfielder in her first camp to throw her straight in.

“It was my first call-up to a camp, and I didn’t even expect to get on the pitch, so to start the game and to play 90 minutes was unreal,” Finn tells Dublin Gazette.

“I was surprised but the older girls were welcoming and were like ‘you’re well able for this so just go and do what you’ve been doing for the past while’.

“People keep coming up to me and saying ‘well done’ and it’s just surreal. Playing with senior girls, the pros that play with Arsenal and Liverpool, it was a great feeling.”

Finn had been involved in a couple of home-based training camps under previous manager Colin Bell, who now manages South Korea.

The 21-year-old, who played underage with Swords Manor boys before joining Shels, saw her impressive form in Shelbourne’s title challenge attract much attention.

Though Shelbourne came up just short, losing out on the title by two points as Peamount beat Cork City on the final day, Finn was named in team of the season and nominated for player of the year.

Her upward trajectory was confirmed by her selection to start in Athens and, while the result didn’t go the way she’d have liked, the experience has been universally positive.

Coming up against players who train five and six days a week – Shels are amateur and train three days – showed her the level that’s attainable.

Her former Shels teammate Leanne Kiernan got the opportunity to go pro with West Ham United, while Barrett moved in the summer to the Bundesliga, and Finn would one day like to follow suit.

“You can see their sharpness because they’re training every day of the week and coming into camp they’re no different,” says Finn.

“I’d love to go professional. I think it’s just a case of when and where and really sitting down and thinking about it, but I’d love to go play.

“Even just for the international set-up, I’d like to get better for myself and the team. Going pro would mean training every day and me improving, so hopefully [it happens].”

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