The Republic of Ireland Women’s National Team has made history after securing World Cup qualification for the first time ever. The side emerged triumphant from their playoff match on the night of October 11, beating Scotland 1-0 in Glasgow’s Hampden Park.
A second-half goal from super-sub Amber Barrett led Ireland to victory, with the Donegal woman dedicating the moment to the victims of the recent tragedy in Creeslough. After scoring the historic match-winner, she gestured to her black armband which served to pay tribute to the 10 lives lost as a result of the explosion last week.
Speaking after the game, wrapped in her home county’s green and yellow flag, the Ireland number 9 poignantly stated: “I know Creeslough like the back of my hand. Both my grandparents were Creeslough born and bred. I spent my whole upbringing there in summers and Christmas’. Every year I go back, I go to my uncle who is still living in Creeslough.
“I know people that died in the tragedy, I know people who were affected by the tragedy, I know people who were first on the scene of the tragedy,” she continued.
“This is the best day of my life in terms of what we’ve done for football. But when you put it into perspective, we don’t scratch the surface of what happened over there on Friday.”
Clutching her well-deserved Player of the Match trophy, Barrett powerfully added: “This result, this game, that goal, this award, I’m dedicating it to those 10 beautiful souls who unfortunately perished on Friday. For all their families, because I know they touched their lives, they certainly touched ours. This is for Creeslough. This is for Donegal.”
Captain Katie McCabe also spoke after the landmark victory, exclaiming: “We’re going to the World Cup – book your tickets!” The Arsenal star said “It doesn’t actually feel real to be honest. I’m just so proud of the girls.”
She praised her teammate Denise O’Sullivan for covering “every inch of Hampden”, goalkeeper Courtney Brosnan for her essential penalty save in the twelfth minute, and of course Amber Barrett for her cool and composed finish.
“People might not like our style of play with the defending, but we love it. We love to defend, we’re passionate about it, it’s our identity,” she said. “We catch teams out on the counter-attack like we did tonight. That’s our strength.”
McCabe is one of several LGBTQ+ sporting icons within the squad, serving as phenomenal role models for aspiring athletes in Ireland and abroad.
The Republic of Ireland will travel to the 2023 Women’s World Cup hosted in Australia and New Zealand next summer, with manager Vera Pauw emotionally expressing: “I can’t believe it, I just can’t believe it.”
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