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'It hurt, and it's probably gonna be in the back of my mind with me forever'

The comeback is always stronger than the setback, as Ireland’s Áine O’Gorman looks to rebound in the Champions League.

IT’S STILL VERY raw, but Ireland stalwart Áine O’Gorman won’t shy away from it.

Fronting up to the media first thing on a Monday morning isn’t exactly the ideal start to the week for any player that wants to focus on football, but especially not when it comes just 10 days after one of the most heartbreaking nights of their career.

aog Áine O'Gorman and captain Katie McCabe after the gut-wrenching 1-0 defeat. Source: FAI/Sportsfile.

Ahead of captaining her Peamount side into their Champions League qualifier against Glasgow City tomorrow, O’Gorman spoke about the “disappointment” of Ireland’s gut-wrenching 1-0 Euro 2022 qualifier defeat to Ukraine early on in the interview.

The Irish centurion was involved in a nightmare own goal scenario, which has dearly cost the side’s Euro 2022 qualification hopes. A win or draw on the night would have guaranteed Vera Pauw’s side of a playoff spot, and the loss to their second-place rivals came as a major blow.

Another setback landed a few days later as Ukraine beat Greece, so now it’s looking like Ireland must defy the odds and beat all-conquering Germany at Tallaght Stadium in December if they are to keep their dreams of reaching a first-ever major tournament alive.

While her 104th cap is certainly one she’d rather forget, O’Gorman went on to share her excitement to get back onto the biggest stage and banish the heartbreak felt in Kiev.

But later in the interview, she delved into it the disappointment deeper as she tries to park it once and for all.

“It’s probably been a really good focus for me that I’ve had this to come back and focus on and do analysis around and get back in with the Peamount girls,” she says of the south Dublin outfit’s European adventure.

Look, it hurt and I think it’s always gonna be… it’s probably gonna be in the back of my mind with me forever.

“It’s just now how you recover and how you react and go again, when you go back to your club and look forward then to the to the Germany game next month.”

The comeback is always greater than the setback, so they say.

And that’s the focus for Wicklow native O’Gorman now. And it’s a journey she’ll walk alone, having never worked with a sports psychologist though finterested in that side of things herself.

You know, you get asked the question, ‘What are the setbacks and how do you react?’ If that’s asked now, it probably is gonna be that night in Kiev.

“It’s all about having a good attitude towards it. All the team are sticking together and being really supportive as well. It’s all about how you recover now.

“We bounce back, obviously into this European game, finishing out the league and then taking on Germany next month. It’s all just about mindset now, and getting back out and playing.”

The ideal place to rebound is in a Champions League qualifier, a one-legged tie against all-conquering Scottish kingpins Glasgow City, home to fellow Irishwomen Clare Shine and Tyler Toland.

One shot, one opportunity, with all of the the expectation on the 13-in-a-row Scottish champions, who reached the quarter-final stages of this competition last year.

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“Going in as the underdogs, it’s a great opportunity,” O’Gorman smiles.

“You just have to go out and put in a good performance as well. There’s none of this: you’re away from home, are we going to be cagey and wait ’til the the home game. It changes that dynamic. Your focus is just on one game, performing and doing what you can on the day to get the result.

peamount-united-media-day

“I don’t think it’s an impossible task. We just have to play the way we know we can play and I think it’s it’s very doable, and stop them playing. Obviously they’re really good side. You don’t get to the quarter-finals of the Champions League for no reason.

“From our point of view, we’ve nothing to lose and everything to gain. I think we’re all just excited and buzzing to go out and play with no fear, play to our ability and hopefully that performance will get us a good result.”

The plan is, as always, to leave everything on the pitch as they face up to a repeat of the tall order they faced in meeting PSG in the Champions League last 32 in 2011. (Just themselves and Raheny United, now amalgamated with Shelbourne, have advanced from the group stages in terms of Irish sides in the competition.)

Once again, the gap is undeniable, with Glasgow a more full-time outfit as Scottish women’s football starts to turn professional. Celtic and Rangers became the first to turn professional over the past few weeks, though Glasgow’s dominance has been unrivalled.

While the Women’s National League is “probably a little bit off that at the moment,” according to O’Gorman, the 31-year-old agrees that Ireland could model itself on Scotland. 

Though there’s been huge disparity and gaps in women’s football across Europe of late, the nation recently made history in reaching their first major tournament in Euro 2017, and then qualifying for, and impressing at, last summer’s World Cup.

And with Glasgow’s success in Europe’s top women’s club football competition too, it’s something that could potentially be emulated here.

“Definitely,” she concludes. “I think that’s a good comparison.

“That’s something that we should be trying to achieve, what they’ve achieved in Glasgow, albeit their league might not be the strongest in Europe either but the the set-up that they’ve put in at Glasgow.

“Celtic are slowly starting to change, they’ve become a professional club as well, and Rangers.

“Look, they are striving to improve and I think Glasgow is probably a good model that we can model off if we want to keep winning leagues and progress into the into the European competitions.”

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Emma Duffy

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