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'A betting man wouldn’t put their house on us, but stranger things have happened. Just look at the GAA'

Ireland and FC Köln’s Donegal-born striker Amber Barrett takes inspiration from elsewhere ahead of her German reunion.

Ireland striker Amber Barrett is hoping for a monumental upset against Germany.
Ireland striker Amber Barrett is hoping for a monumental upset against Germany.
Image: Ryan Byrne/INPHO

THEY’LL TAKE ANY inspiration they can.

There’s no two ways about it, if Ireland are to keep their Euro 2022 dream alive, they’ll need to produce a monumental shock next against Germany at Tallaght Stadium next Tuesday.

Shane Long’s goal against the very opposition in 2015, the Girls In Green’s 0-0 draw with European champions the Netherlands in 2017, running the Germans close twice in 2014, a famous U17 victory in 2010; they’ve all been mentioned as inspiration. 

And while Donegal striker Barrett, who plays her club football with FC Köln in the Frauen-Bundesliga 2, starts out with another international football reference, she ends up much closer to home with her Gaelic football roots.

“We need something special but it’s always a possibility with the players we have,” she told the media yesterday, with a win the order. Nothing less. “It’s been done before.

“Look at a few results in the Nations League. Football is a strange old sport, sometimes it goes for you and sometimes it doesn’t. Hopefully we’ll be on the right side of the result.”

Belief is key.

“To be honest, if we have no belief, we may as well not come out on Tuesday. We need to go into every game really believing we can get a result. We know it will be extremely difficult and a betting man wouldn’t put their house on us, but stranger things have happened over the last few weeks. Just even look at the GAA.

If you said on Friday, Cavan and Tipperary would be provincial champions, you would have laughed. Things like this happen in sport. We need to make sure we put ourselves in the position. Once we stay in the game, anything can happen.”

“We can use the Tipp game as a motivation more so than the Ulster final, not as a Donegal woman,” Barrett, a talented Gaelic footballer herself with club and county through the years, adds, with a frown.

“That was Tipperary’s first title in 85 years and at the start of the season nobody gave them a hope but once Cork beat Kerry, they knew they had a chance. If you’re being realistic, it’s Germany every day of the week but we’re hoping that Tuesday isn’t your average day of the week.”

It’s going to be “huge,” there’s no denying that, though there’s a little less expectation on their shoulders this time around. The heartbreak of Kiev is long in the rear-view mirror, no what ifs being thrown around, with the journey far from over yet.

“We still have a chance to stay alive. The focus and desire is there and we’re all ready to go,” Barrett nods before insisting: “We can’t let the occasion get to us.”

Vera Pauw and her side know what they need to do within 90-plus minutes, though it’s important they don’t panic no matter what happens.

They also realise exactly what they’re up against: the world’s second-ranked nation, who boast a 100% record in this campaign so far, scoring 37 goals and conceding zero — they beat Ireland 3-0 in Essen.

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Barrett is arguably more aware of their quality than anyone, considering she plays her football there.

amber-barrett Facing Denise O'Sullivan in training. Source: Ryan Byrne/INPHO

“When you look at their squad, there’s no doubt about it, their starting 11 are world-class and their bench could arguably start for other countries,” she says. “There are 15 or 16 with Bayern Munich so that’s a huge togetherness they have, so much quality and strength in depth as well.”

Having hit the ground running in her second season at FC Köln, former Peamount United star Barrett is thoroughly enjoying a rich vein of form in the German second-tier following her side’s relegation. 

The 24-year-old Milford native puts it down to pure hard work and practice in pre-season, which she used as a “stepping stone.”

“I scored the most goals in pre-season and that made the coach aware that I might be useful for him,” she explains, having proudly watched Peas’ title lift at the weekend. “He’s good in that he will tell me where I am doing well but also let me know what I need to work on.

“So to have that motivation going into training is great and it gives you confidence. Heading into the first few games, that worked wonders when I had that confidence, it’s working with me.

I definitely think I’m in the form of my German life anyway. I’ve been very lucky with it. If you told me I’d score every game and win all four, I’d bite your hand off.”

While the hard work has resulted in renewed confidence, Barrett also credits her “world-class” striking partner for the welcome assists. On the international scene, Pauw generally opts to play one up top, Rianna Jarrett normally favoured as the sole striker.

The Dutch boss left it late to hand Barrett a cameo against Ukraine, which frustrated many watching on from home, but she’s hopeful of a start next week — and would be more than happy to partner Jarrett up top with scoring a necessity.

“I’ve been leaving her a few 50 euro notes at breakfast on the table so hopefully that does the job,” she laughs with a nod to Pauw.

“For me, if I want to play on Tuesday, I need to put myself forward in training and do my best. For me, stepping up to compete with Rianna, she is an excellent striker. We all want to play. If I have a good week in training, it will set me up and hopefully we’ll see what happens on Tuesday night.”

Screenshot 2020-11-24 at 9.04.07 AM

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Emma Duffy

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