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'I'm delighted to have her back, and extremely proud of where she's at'

Katie McCabe on Clare Shine’s return to the Ireland squad, and life at Arsenal.

THE SMILE ETCHED across Katie McCabe’s face when Clare Shine’s name is mentioned says it all.

“Ah, Clare,” the Ireland captain and Arsenal star beams. “It’s been a tough few years for her, but where she’s at now, she’s absolutely flying.”

Tough is an understatement. Shine has been to hell and back, enduring a deep, dark battle with mental health struggles. She’s opened up on her downward spiral of depression and addiction through it all, sharing her harrowing-at-times story with The42.

Her stunning club form at Glasgow City has earned her a recall to the Ireland squad, as she looks to work her way into Vera Pauw’s plans for the upcoming 2023 World Cup qualifiers.

“Scoring two goals there at the weekend, that’s Clare, that’s what I know Clare can do,” McCabe says.

“I’ve played with her since I was 13, so it’s a big chunk of my life knowing Clare Shine. I know that quality, I’ve seen it every time I’ve stepped on the pitch with her, whether that’s with club or country, and how she’s carried us in tournaments at underage as well.

“She was just incredible in that U19s Euros back in 2014. There’s no pressure on her, though. She just needs to go and do what she does best, which is score goals and help the team. I’m delighted to have her back, and extremely proud of where she’s at.”

Shine is a top-class finisher, one of the finest attacking talents this country has to offer.

She’s proven it time and time again through the years, at club level both sides of the Irish Sea, and in the green jersey.

A lot of people might not realise just how good she is, though, opportunities at international level few and far between as she fought off-pitch battles.

McCabe tries to find the words to sum her capabilities up. “It’s not frustrating… but I know there’s that player in there, and the opportunities haven’t really fell for her.

“I feel like she’s in a fantastic position now, her confidence is flying with club and hopefully she can carry that influence now this week, and get her chance maybe against Australia.”

katie-mccabe-and-clare-shine McCabe and Shine in Ireland training a few years back. Source: Ryan Byrne/INPHO

As skipper, that’s exactly what McCabe wants: her team-mates confident and raring to go as they look to reach a first-ever major tournament.

Pauw’s side face the Matildas in an international friendly on at Tallaght Stadium on Tuesday [KO 7pm, live on RTÉ] as preparations for their delayed World Cup qualifying campaign ramp up.

“We’ve got some real top quality here. You can see it getting better every single year. Even the young girls now coming through, it’s great. You can see that next generation coming through and I think that’s down to the work that coaches do at grassroots level and underage level.

“You’re getting better coaching and it’s all a progression, isn’t it? It’s really exciting. But I’m hoping we’re — well, I’m confident we’re in a good position to take that forward and and start off the campaign.

“We’re still missing a few players down to injury: Megan Campbell, Keeva Keenan, there’s a few broken ankles, which is really, really unfortunate. But it’s an exciting time.

“When you still have to welcome those players back, it’s great. You can see the pool of players expanding and and that’s down to the girls wanting to get playing professionally, getting out of the Women’s National League and in to a professional set-up, and I think that’ll only increase the quality of the senior team as well.”

McCabe made the move to the Gunners in 2015 from Shelbourne FC, where she had previously played with Shine when it was just Raheny United.

The Kilnamanagh native has enjoyed a remarkable rise at the London club, with last season a simply stunning individual one in which she well and truly established herself as a world-class player.

This season, they’ve started well under the watchful eye of new manager Jonas Eideval, who succeeded Joe Montemurro at the helm.

“Obviously I loved playing under Joe,” McCabe says. “I think he really brought my game to the next level. Ultimately Joe left and joined Juventus, and we got Jonas.


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“Honestly, life under Jonas, it’s refreshing. He brings a total different dynamic. He’s passionate guy, what you see is what you get with him. Some of the celebrations on the sideline — but that’s him, and I think that really drip feeds down into the team. That passion he brings, his enthusiasm, his want to win and that winning mentality.

“For us, last year, not not getting a trophy didn’t sit right with us. When you play for Arsenal, you’re always expected to win trophies and I really feel this year, the club have recruited really well, we’ve signed some really quality players so I think that’s that’s a statement. We need to remain with our feet on the ground, which I know we will.

“It’s a good start to the season but it’s it’s a long season ahead. The league has gotten better teams, teams have improved, and you see that with Spurs and Man City at the weekend. Anything can happen, so we need to remain focused on ourselves, what we can do and how can we win games.

“I’m looking forward to it. So far, so good obviously. We’ve reached the group stages of the Champions League and have two wins from two in the league. Post-international game we’ve got Man City, so a big test but one I’ll be looking forward to.”

Finishing third last year “wasn’t good enough,” she deadpans, with experience of winning the Women’s Super League [WSL] before driving her to taste that success again.

arsenal-v-chelsea-fa-womens-super-league-emirates-stadium McCabe in action for Arsenal. Source: PA

“We want to be up there amongst it again, leading the way hopefully. I think there’s five trophies this year to challenge for. I’d like to get my hands on at least a couple of them, we’ll see how that goes but first up Ireland and we’ll worry about Arsenal business then when when I get back to it.”

In terms of her own positioning, it’s something that has been debated quite a lot over the past few months. She’s thrived as a left-back at Arsenal, but has been utilised differently with Ireland.

Where can she get the best out of herself, though, or does she have any personal preferences?

“I don’t mind once it’s on the pitch,” she laughs. “Obviously last year, Joe had me left-back, which I loved and I thought I had a really good season individually in that position.

“But I think it’s different with Ireland. I think each nation you’re playing against, you have to change your approach a little bit. Vera has obviously played me left wing back, left back, left wing. As I said, honestly I don’t mind.

“Obviously down that left somewhere, that’s my natural position. Probably preferably up higher a little bit, just so I can influence the game. We’ll see. Obviously, we’ll see what Vera’s thinking this week on the training ground. But as I said, I’d play anywhere.”

About the author:

Emma Duffy

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