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'It's a special feeling to wear the green jersey, and to get Player of the Match topped that off'

Shelbourne’s Jamie Finn was excellent against Denmark – and global superstar Pernille Harder – last night.

jamie-finn Jamie Finn was a shining light for Ireland last night. Source: Ryan Byrne/INPHO

A LAST-MINUTE NOD that ended up being a Player of the Match-winning performance made it a particularly memorable night in the green jersey for Shelbourne’s Jamie Finn.

The Women’s National League [WNL] star was a revelation for Ireland, putting it up to a world-class Danish midfield, led by Chelsea superstar, Pernille Harder, two-time Uefa Player of the Year and the most expensive signing in women’s football.

22-year-old Finn looked right at home, keeping Harder and co. at bay for the most part, as Vera Pauw and her side could be proud of a 1-0 defeat to one of Europe’s best teams.

“It shows what kind of quality we have in Ireland, and on the bench, and what we can grow to,” Pauw said post-match, discussing Finn’s industrious display after a late call-up to replace Ruesha Littlejohn, who sustained a knock in training.

The Dubliner was a joy to watch at six, making the defensive midfield role her own, key in breaking Denmark down while comfortable with the ball at her feet.

Finn has just two senior caps to her name but has been in the mix for some time, playing the 90-plus against Germany as the Euro 2022 qualifying campaign came to a close before Christmas. 

“Who doesn’t want to be a part of the experience of coming up against this team tonight,” she said afterwards. “It was great to get the nod to play. 

“It’s a high level that’s being asked of you. Obviously, I love playing for my country and getting a nod to play was special. Coming out in the first half, I think we gave them too much space on the ball.

“At half time, Vera and the coaching staff gave us some good pointers. In fairness, the second half was much better. If we took our chances, it could have ended differently. On a different day, those goals would have went in if we took our chances.”

Nicoline Sorensen’s ninth-minute goal was a sucker-punch, but the Girls In Green responded well with a much-improved second half, in which they played with intent and urgency, and came close to scoring on several occasions — captain Katie McCabe’s pile-driver which ricocheted off the cross bar, case in point.

Finn’s performance against such a top opposition was another huge positive, the only WNL player in Ireland’s starting XI, really pushing to nail down a regular position.

Being named Player of the Match was understandably a very proud moment.

“Obviously it’s a special feeling, just to even wear the green jersey, it’s always been a dream of mine, and to get Player of the Match obviously just topped that off as well.

“The result obviously didn’t go our way but we have a lot of things to learn from and move forward with. Coming up to World Cup qualifiers, it’s great to play opposition like that, of a high standard.”

International football is a certain step up from the WNL, Finn agrees, but it’s one she’s taken in her stride. Like she has done all through her Ireland career to date, named U16 FAI Player of the Year, captaining the U17s, and having not put a foot wrong at senior level when given a chance.

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“The quality is just that step up,” she explains. “The game is faster, touches have to be tight to you, the ball comes in nice and strong. It’s a step up, but one that I love to play in, and obviously to get the nod then this morning was great.

“The girls help me a lot, all the girls have been great in helping me along the way, giving me tips and pointers before and after games, what I done good, what I can improve on as well. In fairness to them, they’ve been great.”

Now, it’s all about driving on and learning as she goes, developing along with the team as they go in search of qualification for a first-ever major tournament in the 2023 World Cup.

Attention now switches to another testing friendly in Belgium on Sunday [KO 6.30pm, RTÉ Player] ahead of the qualifying draw on 30 April, and the start of the new campaign in September, all going to plan.

“There’s things we can learn from going into the next game,” Finn concludes. “These are all learning curves for qualifiers, we can learn from that. 

“Obviously, it’s great to have these two games. Going into World Cup qualifiers, you want to be playing good, strong opposition.

“There is a lot to look forward to, and I’m proud to be a part of the squad and to wear the jersey and then to play as well, is something special.”

Screenshot 2020-11-24 at 9.04.07 AM

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Emma Duffy

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