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Ireland's Áine O'Gorman on Euro 2017 hopes & assisting THAT Stephanie Roche goal

The Irish international also discusses international teammate Katie McCabe’s recent move to Arsenal.

Aine O'Gorman is still confident Ireland can qualify for Euro 2017.
Aine O'Gorman is still confident Ireland can qualify for Euro 2017.
Image: David Maher/SPORTSFILE

SOMETIMES IN FOOTBALL, the worst defeats ultimately prove to be the most invaluable learning experiences.

Áine O’Gorman was part of the Irish team that travelled over to the States and she subsequently featured in the side that were hammered 5-0 by the reigning world champions.

Even if it was only a friendly, the result was a further blow to the team after their Euro 2017 qualification hopes suffered a setback at Tallaght Stadium in November amid a 3-0 loss to Spain.

Yet O’Gorman is looking on the bright side after coming up against a formidable Carli Lloyd-inspired US team that defeated Japan 5-2 to win the Women’s World Cup back in July.

“You’re always looking to test yourself against the best teams in the world just to see where you’re at,” O’Gorman says. “It was the first game of the New Year, so it was a good time to regroup — you always learn and strive to be the best. We were playing against the world player of the year, Carli Lloyd, so it was a huge challenge.

“You can always take something out of it, but it’s never nice to lose by five goals, especially when you give away soft goals, but I suppose you can learn from those mistakes as well and just strive to improve.”

Ireland have an opportunity to partially make up for recent disappointments in the Cyprus Cup. Sue Ronan’s side face Italy, Austria and Hungary in Group A this March, as they intensify preparations for the crunch Euro 2017 qualifiers away to Montenegro and Spain the following month.

Ireland currently sit third in their qualifying group on three points, ahead of Portugal on goal difference and three points behind second-place Finland. With Spain seeming odds-on to qualify automatically on 12 points, it’s looking like a three-horse race for the runners-up place, which would lead to either qualification or a playoff spot depending on how the other groups pan out.

Yet despite the Irish side losing two of their three matches thus far, O’Gorman remains optimistic that they will qualify.

“I thoroughly believe it and I think all of us believe that we can actually qualify,” she says. “We need to go out to Montenegro and do the business, then the game against Finland is probably going to be a key game. They beat us at home last year, so we need to go out there and get some points. It’s important that we don’t take that game for granted as well. We still have to go out there and do a job and make sure we get the three points.”

O’Gorman favours a position up front, though she has been deployed at right-back by Sue Ronan of late

“We needed to tighten things up at the back and I think the manager felt we needed a bit of pace back there. After we came off a bad defeat to Russia, I slotted in there. As an attacking player, I have the ability to get forward, so I pose a threat there as well.

“I don’t mind playing right-back, it’s a change and a challenge for me. (Against Montenegro) I’d hope to be bombing forward, playing like a second right winger. We’ll have to see what the manager starts doing, testing a few things out as well when we’re in Cyprus, nailing down a few more positions and things like that.”

One of the big talking points in recent times as far as Irish women’s football is concerned has been Katie McCabe’s move to Arsenal.

Regarded as a hugely promising talent for some time, notably lighting up the 2014 Women’s FAI Cup Final with a stunning free-kick, she also played an important role in the Ireland U19 side’s historic success at the European Championships back in 2014.

Like 21-year-old McCabe, O’Gorman went over to England at a young age, joining Doncaster Rovers Belles in 2010. However, she found constantly living in a hotel tough and soon returned to Ireland. Does she therefore think it will be similarly difficult for her Ireland teammate to adapt?

It’s a different lifestyle over there,” she says. “But Katie’s in a good position, she has a few Irish girls around her, so that won’t be so hard for her. But you’re always going to miss your friends and family, especially if you’re only going out training, you generally have a lot of spare time on your hands, so it’s about finding things to do to keep yourself busy.

“She’ll be lucky as well that she’ll get home when we have her home games, so she’ll be able to see her friends and family then, and it’s only across the water.”

Consequently, O’Gorman is confident McCabe can fulfill her potential with the Gunners.

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“She was probably our best player in the league over here. She’s a great player. But she’s going to have to work hard over there, it’s not going to be easy for her and I think she knows that.

“(It’ll be tough) just to nail down a place. Arsenal have a lot of quality — English internationals and top Spanish players. But she’s still young and I’ve no doubt that she will succeed.”

Source: RTENewsNow/YouTube

And finally, does she still get reminded about providing the assist for what has become one of the most famous goals in Irish footballing history — Stephanie Roche’s stunner for Peamount against Wexford Youths back in 2013.

“It was a great cross, wasn’t it? It was all in the cross,” she jokes.

“People still say it to me. Obviously Steph’s goal was great to put (women’s) football on the map in Ireland. Hopefully, it gets a few more young girls involved who are going to stick with the sport.”

Former Republic of Ireland International Jason McAteer, current Republic of Ireland women’s star Aine O’Gorman and SPAR National Sales Director, Colin Donnelly, were on hand to help launch the 2016 SPAR FAI Primary School 5s Programme. The fun five-a-side schools competition is open to boys and girls from 4th, 5th and 6th class. County blitzes will begin at the end of February and the winners will then progress to regional, provincial and the prestigious national finals which will be held in the Aviva Stadium on May 11th. For further information or to register your school please see www.spar.ie or www.faischools.ie.

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