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Retirements see Ireland boss Bell add new faces to his squad for Poland trip

Karen Duggan and Aine O’Gorman stepped away from the international set-up this week.

Bell and his players.
Bell and his players.
Image: INPHO/Ryan Byrne

THE PAST FORTNIGHT has witnessed two experienced players announce their retirement from Ireland duty. 

110-cap Aine O’Gorman and 27-year-old Karen Duggan have both stepped away from international football after the recent World Cup qualifying campaign ended with the Girls in Green missing out on a place at next year’s finals. 

There have been encouraging signs since Colin Bell took over as manager, however, and he is building a talented, young team that will be bidding to reach the 2021 European Championships. 

Qualification for that begins in 12 months’ time, but Ireland will play in a number of friendly matches between now and then. First up, is a trip Ostroda to face Poland on Tuesday, 9 October. 

Early next year, they are also scheduled to take on Belgium and Wales in Spain, before an away game against Italy in April. 

Today’s squad announcement saw a first call-up for Shelbourne striker Emily Whelan, while Cork City’s Zara Foley is in after impressing for Ireland’s U17s. 

Goalkeeper Marie Hourihan, full-back Sophie Perry and attacker Ruesha Littlejohn are all back after recovering from injuries, but midfielder Tyler Toland is missing after picking up a problem at home to Northern Ireland last month.

“It is going to be a really tough test against Poland,” said Bell. They’re a team who’ve shown signs of progress in recent years and finished third in their qualifying campaign.

“We’ve set up a number of international friendlies and as you can see, they’re all against quality opposition. I believe it’s important to always test yourself against the best teams so we can be in the best shape possible heading into the European Championships qualifying campaign in September next year.

Since the end of the qualifying campaign, we’ve had Aine O’Gorman and Karen Duggan retire so it’s important we look to bring through the next generation of talent. The likes of Heather Payne, Isibeal Atkinson and Amy Boyle-Carr will be with the Women’s U19 squad this year as they look to qualify for the European Championships next summer. 

“Emily Whelan comes into the squad for her first senior call-up, a player I’ve worked with in the Women’s U17 squad and in home-based sessions over the last year, and I believe she’ll benefit from spending time with the senior squad. 

“Also, delighted to welcome Marie Hourihan back to the squad following injury as well as Ruesha Littlejohn and Sophie Perry as it is important we get the right blend of youth and experience.”

Republic of Ireland WNT squad v Poland

Goalkeepers: Marie Hourihan (Brighton and Hove Albion), Grace Moloney (Reading)

Defenders: Harriet Scott (Birmingham City), Sophie Perry (Brighton and Hove Albion), Niamh Fahey (Liverpool), Diane Caldwell (SC Sand), Louise Quinn (Arsenal), Claire O’Riordan (MSV Duisburg).

Midfielders: Denise O’Sullivan (NC Courage), Aislinn Meaney (Galway Women’s), Katie McCabe (Arsenal), Ruesha Littlejohn (London Bees), Zara Foley (Cork City), Jessica Ziu (Shelbourne).

Forwards: Leanne Kiernan (West Ham United), Rianna Jarrett (Wexford Youths), Amber Barrett (Peamount United), Emily Whelan (Shelbourne).


  • 09/10/2018 – Poland v Republic of Ireland, Municipal Stadium, Ostroda – KO 5pm (6pm local time)
  • 20/01/2019 – Belgium v Republic of Ireland, Pinatar Arena, Murcia (Spain), – TBC
  • 02/2019 – Wales v Republic of Ireland, Marbella, Spain – TBC (Date, KO TBC)
  • 09/04/2019 – Italy v Republic of Ireland, Italy – TBC (Venue, KO TBC)

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Ben Blake

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