Women’s football: Lucan native called up to irish squad

by Jonny Stapleton
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Niamh Farrelly is reaping the rewards of her Italian Job. The four-cap Girls In Green international joined Parma ahead of the new Serie A Femminile season and has impressed enough in the white of the famous Italian club to get an Irish call.

The Lucan native was one of a number of recalls and will populate the 28-player squad for Ireland’s crucial World Cup qualification play-off away to either Scotland or Austria [who play off today Thursday October 6] next Tuesday.

The former Glasgow City midfielder, 23, is one of seven Dubs on the panel. West Ham midfielder Isibeal Atkinson is another to return after missing out recently, while her clubmate Jess Ziu retains her place on the panel.

Arsenal star, the Kilnamanagh Kid Katie McCabe, Reading defender Diane Caldwell, Jamie Finn of Birmingham City fame and teen front woman Abbie Larkin make up the capital cohort.

Manager Vera Pauw believes Ireland need to play the “best game of their lives” if they are to qualify for the World Cup set for Australia and New Zealand next year.

Niamh Farrelly during a Republic of Ireland Women training session at Tallaght Stadium in Dublin. Photo by Stephen McCarthy/Sportsfile

“I’m fighting together with the squad to get somewhere. If you are in that process, you don’t step out,” she said at a Cadbury’s sponsored event.

“That is our goal, we want to go to the World Cup. We want to, we fight to get to the World Cup.

“We feel we want to go, we go to the edges to go the World Cup. So in that process, you don’t step out. It’s against my whole being. I just don’t do that.”

Ireland have never qualified for a major tournament but are within touching distance having finished second in their qualifying group last month.

If they do finally get over the line the Dutch coach believes it could have an Italia 90-style impact for women’s football.

“You see the sponsors that we have now. If you look around here at Cadbury’s, this has never been done.

“They are concentrating on the adult grassroots and that is as important as the national team. The majority of football is at grassroots and for the people to enjoy it. They watch our team and become inspired and before there was no opportunities but now there is huge activities because of our sponsor.

“And then we have our role as a national team so it works hand in hand. One is not more important than the other.

“If you know me now, I find the grassroots as important as the elite game even though the elite game is my responsibility.. So yes getting to the World Cup will bring in sponsors who want to work harder. It will bring facilities and leagues.

“The whole game will explode.”

Niamh Farrelly before an Ireland training session at Tallaght Stadium. 
Photo: Sportsfile

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