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Role model status, talented young sister playing for Ireland, and growth of the game

‘I was always a firm believer in leaving the game in a better place than you inherited it in.’

Cadbury have unveiled Republic of Ireland Women’s National Team captain, Katie McCabe, as a brand ambassador.
Cadbury have unveiled Republic of Ireland Women’s National Team captain, Katie McCabe, as a brand ambassador.
Image: Stephen McCarthy/SPORTSFILE

KATIE MCCABE HAS established herself as a leading figure in Irish women’s football in recent times.

The Girls In Green captain is one of the poster girls for the ever-growing sport on these shores; her impact felt both on and off the pitch.

The versatile left-sided star is world-class, and has been a central player and standard-bearer for both Ireland and Arsenals over the past few years.

One of the best ways to see her influence? A scroll through social media on matchday for club or country, where you’ll come across viral clips from fan accounts and high praise from legends of the game.

“Ruesha Littlejohn, she keeps my feet firmly on the ground through all of that,” McCabe laughed last month, with a nod to her partner and team-mate.

“But no, all jokes aside, it’s fantastic that we’re now in a position for young girls to be looking up to us as role models. I think it’s a credit to all the players that went before us — the Emma Byrnes of the game. It’s about us now using our platform to continue to break down barriers that we continue to face in women’s football and make sure we leave the game in a better place than we started. I think if we continue to do that, then the women’s game will only grow in the right way.

“I’ve got a little sister who’s 14 who’s about to start her international career with Ireland U15s, so yeah, I hope to be able to leave the game in a better place for for her and her team-mates when when they get to my age.”

bob Lauryn McCabe (18) and the Ireland team celebrate at the Bob Docherty Cup. Source: FAI Schools.

That sister she spoke of a few weeks back is Lauryn, who has since helped the Ireland U15 schools’ team win the Bob Docherty Cup.

The talented Shamrock Rovers youngster played her part as Richard Berekey’s young guns secured wins over England, Northern Ireland and Scotland and lifted the silverware last week.

Katie watched from afar, on international duty herself as her goal secured Vera Pauw’s side a momentous draw in Sweden.

“We kept an eye on the girls’ results while we were away,” she smiles proudly. “Obviously, it was the first time she’s kind of been away from home as well and representing Ireland properly – not really in friendly games.

“At the end of the week, she was texting me. I gave herself and the team a FaceTime to just congratulate them and to let them know we had been supporting them from behind the scenes. A few of the girls put out tweets.

“That connection is key and it’s important for the younger players to know we’re looking on and we’re supporting them, and I think they were happy with the call.”

kt bob McCabe (11) and her Ireland team-mates celebrate their Bob Docherty Cup win in 2010. Source: FAI Schools.

In 2010, the older of the McCabe sisters helped Ireland to Bob Docherty Cup glory in Glasgow, alongside other members of the current senior squad in Chloe Mustaki and Amber Barrett.

“We were kind of chatting about how is my little sister now doing the same thing we were doing? It’s fantastic,” Katie beams.

“We wouldn’t have had that access at that age to the senior women’s team. It’s great the girls can see the support we give them and know we’re watching on and will help them in any way we can.”

That’s just one tiny change when you look at the growth of the game, and how it has evolved since the 26-year-old started out to now.

katie-mccabe Katie McCabe and her sister, Lauryn, leading Ireland out at Tallaght Stadium in 2018. Source: Ryan Byrne/INPHO

What about the rest?

“We’d be here all day if we got chatting about that,” she grins. “I mean, where to start?

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“In Ireland, in England, I think it’s grown massively. Investment obviously helps that. Visibility, big sponsors like Cadbury coming on board helps that. There’s a lot of different factors.

“It’s obviously fantastic to see first-hand the level in which it’s changed and the trajectory it’s going in and how quick it’s becoming such a big thing now. I was always a firm believer in leaving the game in a better place than you inherited it in.

“Seeing Emma Byrne and older players on the Ireland squad doing that and really standing up for what they felt was important, and for us to take it to the next level, I’ve always admired that and always took that with me and wanted to continue to inspire that change.

“I think as well after the Euros this summer in England, it’s only gonna go up again, up another notch. It’s exciting to see, it’s exciting to be part of and it’s exciting to see my little sister enjoying that as well.”

It’s fair to say there’s another potential leading figure for Irish women’s football on the way.

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Cadbury have unveiled Republic of Ireland Women’s National Team captain, Katie McCabe, as a brand ambassador to launch a new campaign dedicated to supporting Irish women’s grassroots football, ‘Become a Supporter and a Half’

Buy a Cadbury Dairy Milk exclusively in participating Spar stores nationwide until 5th May 2022 and Cadbury will donate up to €50,000 to grassroots women’s football supporting clubs to make upgrades to facilities where they’re needed most.

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About the author:

Emma Duffy

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