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Huge performances from 'first-class' McCabe and 'magnificent' Moloney bode well for Ireland

Louise Quinn was also on the scoresheet in Italy over the weekend.

TWO IRISH INTERNATIONALS, Katie McCabe and Grace Moloney, were star performers in England’s top-flight over the weekend, both lighting up their respective Women’s Super League [WSL] clashes.

moloney mccabe Grace Moloney and Katie McCabe both produced stunning individual displays in the WSL at the weekend. Source: PA Images.

Girls in Green captain McCabe enjoyed a Player of the Match winning display — scoring one and assisting another — in Arsenal’s 3-0 North London Derby win over Tottenham Hotspur, while goalkeeper Moloney was outstanding between the posts for Reading once again, though they fell to a heartbreaking, late 1-0 defeat at the hands of Manchester City.

With Louise Quinn also on the scoresheet for her Fiorentina side in Italy, these big performances bode well for Ireland ahead of their upcoming friendlies.

Vera Pauw’s side host Denmark in Tallaght Stadium on Thursday, 8 April, before flying out to face Belgium in Brussels’ King Baudouin Stadium on Sunday, 11 April, as preparations for the 2023 World Cup qualifying campaign ramp up.

Skipper McCabe is one who certainly will take great confidence from her excellent club form of late, her performance at the Tottenham Hotspur Stadium highlighting all that’s good about her game.

The Dublin-born full-back found great joy down the left, and was a constant thorn in Spurs’ side, finishing with 95% pass accuracy. McCabe’s 11th assist of the season came from a set-piece when she found Dutch superstar Vivianne Miedema with a corner in the 35th minute to make it 2-0, before she bagged a richly-deserved goal for herself on the hour-mark after pouncing on a Spurs’ mistake.

The Kilnamanagh star was chosen as Arsenal’s star performer on The Breakdown, with Adrian Clarke singing her praises.

“Everyone played their part in this North London Derby win, but it was left-back Katie McCabe that caught the eye most,” he said. “Every time the ball was at her feet, she looked like making something happen.

Arsenal peppered Spurs down her wing and McCabe’s superb combination play with Jordan Nobbs was something they just couldn’t handle at all. The Irish international quite simply owned that side of the pitch, striding into open space at will throughout a brilliant first half in particular.

“She has a magnificently-accurate delivery over distance from set-pieces, and links up well with Miedema. The versatile 25-year-old was a serious attacking weapon, firing off four shots from left-back in the 70 minutes that she was on the field. He passing was very much on point too.

“She’s created 11 WSL assists this term, but this was McCabe’s day to score a goal for herself too. The way it came about was typical of her energetic, buccaneering display. Sharp of mind and technically sound with the ball at her feet, the full-back crowned a first-class performance in style. McCabe was the star performer.”

Gunners boss Joe Montemurro also singled McCabe — who consistently plays left-back for her club but is more frequently used on the wing for her country — out for praise after the match.

He said: “She’s becoming more intelligent in her movements so she’s getting into better positions more consistently to really hurt teams. Last year that was maybe a little more random, this year it’s more calculated and structured in terms of the positions she takes up.

“A lot of the stuff she is doing now is coming inside a lot and making that extra midfielder sometimes and sometimes she stays a little higher and that’s very hard to mark. Because her positioning is more consistent, she is receiving the ball in better areas.”

Having scored her third goal in 16 appearances, McCabe was included in the Her Football Hub WSL Team of the Week for her efforts, while Moloney made the FA WSL Full-Time Magazine Team of the Weekend once again.

The Reading ‘keeper has been excellent all season, pulling off top save after top save, and she really shone against Manchester City at the weekend.

Moloney kept the Royals in the game, expertly denying some of the biggest names in women’s football worldwide in Rose Lavelle, Lucy Bronze, Caroline Weir and Georgia Stanway to name a few, and produced a goalkeeping masterclass — but Chloe Kelly’s 87th-minute winner denied her a clean sheet.

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After Moloney’s string of fantastic saves all game, Kelly broke the deadlock to turn on the heat in the title race and keep the pressure on reigning champions Chelsea after brilliant work from Lauren Hemp.

The Irish international came in for huge praise after the game, though, her boss Kelly Chambers saying: ”Grace has been magnificent for us this season. I think we’ve seen a real change in her, a real development. It’s probably the best season that she’s had for us and I know she’s just going to get better and better.”

Ben Waite of the Reading Chronicle hailed her heroics time and time again in his match report, writing: “Royals stopper Grace Moloney pulled Reading ‘through many dangers, toils and snares’ with a heroic performance as Kelly Chambers side spent the majority of the game on the defensive foot.”

In Italy, meanwhile, Quinn scored a thumping header, perfectly-timed off the back of a corner, and was voted Fiorentina’s Player of the Match in their 2-0 away win over Verona:

Screenshot 2020-11-24 at 9.04.07 AM

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Emma Duffy

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