Ireland captain Katie McCabe at this morning's press conference. Ryan Byrne/INPHO
captain's call

Katie McCabe and Ireland expect record crowd for Wales friendly

‘I want to be selling out Tallaght, I want to be selling out the Aviva in time as well.’

REPUBLIC OF IRELAND captain Katie McCabe is relishing the prospect of a record crowd at Tallaght Stadium for tomorrow’s game against Wales.

Over 8,000 tickets have been sold for the international friendly [KO 7.30pm, RTÉ 2], with the new North Stand now open and capacity subsequently over 10,000.

The current record attendance of 7,632 was set at last summer’s World Cup warm-up clash against France. Should all ticket buyers show up tomorrow, history will be made. 

35,994 fans did attend September’s historic showpiece against Northern Ireland at the Aviva Stadium, with more fixtures due to be staged at Lansdowne Road in the future. 

But Eileen Gleeson’s side know filling Tallaght Stadium regularly first is the target.

“I want to be selling out Tallaght, I want to be selling out the Aviva in time as well,” McCabe told The 42 at today’s pre-match press conference.

“That’s the next steps for this team, which will be really important. Tallaght is obviously our home, we love it there, the new stand. You can always feel the crowd on ya, you can hear the chants and the screams whenever we get near goal from all the kids.

“We’re all really excited to be back in Tallaght tomorrow evening, I’m really looking forward to it.”

“The new stand is a great addition,” head coach Gleeson added. “Obviously it encloses the whole stadium, gives it a nice homely compact feel.

“We’re hoping it sells out, we’re over 8,000 tickets now and it’s the same message: come out if you have a ticket, get yourself into a seat and hopefully we’ll sell out.”

Arsenal star McCabe has been front and centre for regular big crowds at the Emirates Stadium in recent times. The Gunners welcomed a record sell-out of 60,160 for a Women’s Super League win over Manchester United earlier this month.

“What Arsenal have done, that’s not just overnight, that has been in the works for a long, long time. The club have put so much work in in terms of setting foundations and marketing it so well, you can see now 50,000 people, it is like the norm now for us, which is insane.

“I have seen the numbers for next week’s North London derby and it is over 50,000 as well, and it’s a big credit to everyone at the club for pushing it.

“I really think Arsenal are at the forefront of that and it is just fantastic to see and great to be a part of it, a club that really back the women’s team and put us at the Emirates Stadium, which is incredible. I love playing there, love playing with girls, it is always really special.”

Gleeson did confirm a full-fit squad for Wales, but Louise Quinn may be a borderline call as she returns from a shoulder injury. The Birmingham City defender missed Friday’s impressive 0-0 draw away to Italy as preparation for April’s Euro 2025 qualifiers continue.

“Full complement, full squad and lots of headaches which is a good place to be,” Gleeson said.

“There’s no foot off the pedal in this camp. It’s not a friendly mentality, it’s a preparation mentality and the Wales game is huge.

“We are expecting a really tough game, Wales have a lot of experience, they were in League A, okay they didn’t stay in it, but have a lot of experience against top teams. We expect them to be really quick on the transition, they have some real quality there, like ourselves. It’s going to be a tough test and a good benchmark again for us ahead of the Euros.”

There are currently eight places between Ireland (24) and Wales (32) in the Fifa World Rankings. “This will be Wales’ only game in this window so they’ll be fully focused and wanting to really test us tomorrow on our home patch,” McCabe, who grew up a stone’s throw from Tallaght Stadium in Kilnamanagh, added.

“I think it’s going to be a really competitive game, one to watch, and make sure if you have a ticket, come watch us.”

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