Megan Connolly has been named captain of Bristol City. Ryan Byrne/INPHO

On the move: The Irish internationals with new clubs after a busy summer

The WSL kicks off this weekend, with the Championship and other overseas leagues already underway.

CLUB FOOTBALL TAKES centre-stage once again this weekend after the international window.

The inaugural Uefa Women’s Nations League is up and running, with the Republic of Ireland enjoying a perfect start to their Group B1 campaign after wins over Northern Ireland and Hungary.

Several of the players who featured under interim head coach Eileen Gleeson are operating at new clubs after a busy summer of transfers.

Some are already off the mark in the FA Women’s Championship and further afield, but others have been working towards the Women’s Super League [WSL] restart on Sunday.

Here’s a run through the biggest transfers involving Ireland women’s internationals this summer:

  • Megan Connolly – Brighton & Hove Albion to Bristol City 

The defensive midfielder moves across the WSL to newcomers Bristol City. Made captain immediately, such is her stature. Joins Chloe Mustaki at the 2022/23 Championship winners and should be a key player for Bristol.

  • Heather Payne – Florida State University to Everton

A versatile player who returns to the WSL after a successful spell Stateside. Had a fleeting stint at Bristol City before combining her studies with football at Florida State University. Still only 23, a lively wide player who has featured all over the pitch in recent years.

heather-payne Payne in action against Hungary. Ryan Byrne / INPHO Ryan Byrne / INPHO / INPHO

  • Jessie Stapleton – Shelbourne to West Ham

One of the brightest young talents in Irish football. A first professional contract had been widely anticipated, and her move to the WSL from Shelbourne was announced during the summer. Knee setback kept 18-year-old centre-half/mid out of Ireland’s recent games.

  • Megan Walsh – Brighton & Hove Albion to West Ham

Another who moves within the WSL, switching Brighton for West Ham. Solid shot-stopper but hasn’t had much of a chance with Ireland, with Courtney Brosnan the undoubted number one. Set to challenge Australia World Cup star Mackenzie Arnold.

  • Lily Agg – London City Lionesses to Birmingham City

One of several Ireland players to depart London City in recent months and joins another big contingent at Championship counterparts Birmingham. Midfield star and aerial threat, has made her impact felt at Blues already. Scored the goal that secured Ireland’s World Cup play-off.

  • Eleanor Ryan Doyle – Birmingham City to Durham

A fresh start for the former Peamount United striker after a mixed bag in the Championship thus far. Lethal finisher on her day, loaned out to Coventry City last season but injury hampered her bid to gain more minutes and confidence.

  • Hayley Nolan – London City Lionesses to Crystal Palace

One of a handful of players to play every minute of last season. A rock at the back at London City of late, has made a seamless switch to Crystal Palace. Not just defensively solid, scored a stunning goal a few weeks back:

  • Niamh Farrelly – Parma to London City Lionesses

Has had limited involvement through London City’s start to the season, but should make her impact felt in time after a year in Italy. At her best in defensive midfield, has previously called Glasgow City home.

  • Grace Moloney – Reading to London City Lionesses

The goalkeeper has made a bright start to life at London City with some typically excellent saves. Left Reading this summer, having been at the club since 2009. Appears to be thriving in a new environment. 

  • Ruesha Littlejohn – Aston Villa to London City Lionesses

Skillful midfielder who has brought her colourful career to her 12th club. Like Moloney, dropped down from WSL and was parachuted into the London City XI. Has struggled win injury of recently though, missed Ireland’s recent games with a quad setback. 

  • Kate Mooney – Peamount United to Lewes

Having been the Women’s Premier Division’s in-form striker, Mooney signed her first professional contract in recent weeks. Had excelled for Peamount, having previously represented Shelbourne and DLR Waves on home soil. Will now look to find her goalscoring touch at Lewes. 

  • Tyler Toland – Levante to Blackburn Rovers

Impressively reignited her international career over the break, with Eileen Gleeson ending the international exile Toland endured under Vera Pauw. The midfielder has made a bright start to life at Blackburn after up-and-down spells in Spain and Scotland.

blacburn-uk-10th-sep-2023-blackburn-england-september-10th-2023-tyler-toland-4-blackburn-rovers-during-the-warm-up-before-taking-on-sheffield-united-at-ewood-park-blackburn-england-on-septe Toland has made a bright start to life at Blackburn. Alamy Stock Photo Alamy Stock Photo

  • Emily Kraft – Lewes to Southampton

Played underage for Germany before committing to Ireland, bagging four goals for the U17s on her debut and fast-tracked to the senior set-up by Colin Bell. Two ACL injuries in two years hampered the striker’s progress but should build on Lewes progress at the Saints. 

  • Kyra Carusa – London City Lionesses to San Diego Wave

A great move for Carusa, who has established herself as a key player for Ireland of late. Opened her account before the international break, and is growing in confidence with two goals in two games for Ireland. Playing under Casey Stoney and joins Denise O’Sullivan, Marissa Sheva, Sinead Farrelly and Nicole Douglas in the NWSL.

  • Abbie Larkin – Shamrock Rovers to Glasgow City

It had been reported that Bristol City and other WSL clubs were in for the teenage attacker, but she has pitched up in Scotland. Today was her first training day, and the former Shamrock Rovers and Shels star should thrive. Joins Emily Whelan, Claire Walsh and Aoife Colvill at the club.

  • Amber Barrett – Turbine Potsdam to Standard Liege 

Etched into Irish football folklore forevermore as the Hero of Hampden, Barrett appears to be enjoying a new lease of life in Belgium. Spoke openly about her torrid time at Turbine Potsdam last season, has already started making up for a lengthy goal drought.

  •  Claire O’Riordan – Celtic to Standard Liege

Like clubmate Barrett, O’Riordan had been operating in Germany before an impressive 2022/23 campaign at Celtic. Made a successful late bid for inclusion in Ireland’s World Cup squad, will look to remain in the mix as competition in central defence grows. Has started well at Standard Liege.

roeselare-belgium-26th-aug-2023-amber-barrett-9-of-standard-and-claire-oriordan-11-of-standard-pictured-celebrating-after-winning-a-female-soccer-game-between-club-brugge-dames-yla-and-standa Amber Barrett and Claire O'Riordan at Standard Liege. Alamy Stock Photo Alamy Stock Photo

  • Diane Caldwell – Reading to FC Zürich

Earned her 98th and 99th international caps against Northern Ireland and Hungary, restored to the XI after Pauw’s departure. 35-year-old centre-half has had an illustrious career, playing at the top level in USA, Germany, Iceland, Norway, England and now Switzerland.  

  • Deborah Anne De La Harpe – Sydney FC to HB Høge

The one-time Ireland call-up made the move from Australia to Denmark in recent weeks, joining Carusa’s former club. It remains to be seen if or when we will see the wing-back in the green shirt again, but she has been on the scoresheet for HB Høge in recent weeks. Roma McLaughlin (Fortuna Hjørring) also plays her football in the league.


While this article focused on Ireland internationals, most of whom operate overseas, it’s worth mentioning some of the bigger mid-season moves in the Women’s Premier Division. 

Tiegan Ruddy returned to home soil, joining Shamrock Rovers from Swiss outfit FC Sion. The Hoops also signed Ireland U19 Player of the Year Scarlett Herron from Athlone Town, while rising goalkeeper Katie Keane swapped Shelbourne for the Midlaners. There were ins and outs and Galway United, Julie Anne Russell and Orlaith Deasy coming on board as Gemma McGuinness departed for Bournemouth in England’s fourth-tier.

Ireland international Megan Campbell, meanwhile, remains a free agent.

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