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'We're looking at the Euros, hoping and dreaming that it will be us very soon'

Vera Pauw, Louise Quinn and Ireland watch from afar as the Euro 2022 countdown continues.

Ireland defender Louise Quinn with manager Vera Pauw.
Ireland defender Louise Quinn with manager Vera Pauw.
Image: Laszlo Geczo/INPHO

REPUBLIC OF IRELAND manager Vera Pauw and her players are still basking in the glory of their 9-0 World Cup qualifier win in Georgia and dreaming of what could follow, but Euros fever is undoubtedly taking over.

Uefa Women’s Euro 2022 kicks off across the water in England this day next week, with the Girls In Green watching from afar as their wait to qualify for a first-ever major tournament continues.

“We’re on track, eh?” Paul smiles at the launch of RTÉ’s Euro 2022 coverage, the national broadcaster showing all 31 games. She’s speaking alongside star defender Louise Quinn, the pair among those announced as pundits for the tournament.

Both laud the performance in Gori — “It was so mature, so disciplined, and with so much passion and willpower to get what we needed. It’s absolutely amazing. I’m really proud,” Pauw beams — but are well aware that that must be parked now.

A decisive double-header lies ahead in September, with a play-off spot on the line as they look to banish ghosts of past failures.

Ireland could very well be preparing for the Euros, but their qualification bid fell agonisingly short. A gut-wrenching 1-0 defeat in Kiev ultimately saw Ukraine secure second place in their group, before Northern Ireland came out on top of their subsequent play-off to make history and reach their first finals.

For Quinn, it’s bittersweet, but her punditry duty whets the appetite for what may lie ahead for her team.

“Obviously for us, it’s the disappointment first of all,” the Birmingham City captain, who has been training with a Women’s National League [WNL] team this summer, explains.

“But now we’ve just got to go enjoy the football and look at opponents that we’ve got in our group and potential opponents that are hopefully coming — feeling that that joy that you’re going to be able to see the teams going through this summer, that opportunity to be on the world stage and the European stage is massive. That’s a dream of ours.

“We’re going to be looking at it and hoping that it will be us very soon. We are on the right track right now, but September is huge for us. Listen, it’s [punditry] something now on the side, outside of football. I still eat, sleep, drink football all the time, so talking about it, being able to analyse and get in there with you guys is also a bit of a dream for me as well.”

Pauw, too, is looking forward to the tournament, as her native Netherlands gear up to defend the crown they won on home soil in 2017.

“It’s a big step. It’s in England, which is a major country in women’s football. They grew from a little bit behind the big countries to where they are now, a top country with the major league of the world. They deserve that they get this tournament.

“It was also in England in 2005. Back then, it was already a record-breaking tournament, and the records since have been broken every single tournament.

“We expect a lot. From a technical point of view, we expect a growth of the game that we have seen over the last two or three years in the Champions League, and everybody’s looking forward to fantastic games.”

It’s down the line, but similarly, everyone is relishing September’s massive World Cup qualifying double-header against Finland and Slovakia.

Closest rivals Finland come to Tallaght Stadium on 1 September, where a win would see Ireland wrap up the coveted play-off spot, before a trip to Slovakia five days later. 

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A sell-out is expected as Ireland look to Finnish The Job on home soil, and Pauw believes it’s certainly achievable to blow the record attendance of 5,328 out of the water.

“After we see in 31 games on TV, and our result this week, I think it will be easy to fill the stadium. And it will be massive because the fans always give us that little extra push.

“It’s not that we we cannot perform [in front of a big crowd] because we’ve won from Finland, drew again st against Sweden, having now a major result. But the fans just give that little bit extra on the difficult moments – and we expect that those moments will be there.

“So let’s fill the stadium and let’s get everybody behind us and push us over the finish line.”

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Emma Duffy

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