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Dublin: 16 °C Sunday 12 July, 2020

McCabe stands out as Ireland's top talent on return to Tallaght

The young Arsenal winger was named player-of-the-match in today’s win over Slovakia.

McCabe was one of Ireland's stand-out performers today.
McCabe was one of Ireland's stand-out performers today.
Image: Ryan Byrne/INPHO

IT’S JUST OVER two years since Katie McCabe made her senior debut for Ireland as a fresh-faced teenager.

The young winger, at that time plying her trade at Raheny United, was handed a first cap in the Istria Cup draw with Hungary in March 2015 and never looked fazed by the step up to international level.

Now 21 and on the books at Arsenal, McCabe has become an ever-present for the Girls in Green and one of their most important players. Hailing from Kilnamanagh — a stone’s throw from Shamrock Rovers’ home ground — she returned to her native Tallaght this afternoon for Ireland’s friendly meeting with Slovakia.

After showing glimpses of what she can do out on the left flank, manager Colin Bell switched her to the opposite wing after half-time. The move proved fruitful as McCabe began to cause real damage and she was unlucky not to score after a fine run.

Fellow Dubliner Stephanie Roche was on target from the spot in a 1-0 home win, while Denise O’Sullivan, Louise Quinn and Megan Connolly also impressed.

But it was McCabe who deservedly picked up the player-of-the-match award.

“It’s always a privilege, especially being from Tallaght and having friends and family here,” McCabe said afterwards.

“Being across the water, it’s always good to come home and to be named man-of-the-match is always great but I think there were 11 players that deserved that as much as I did.”

The last seven days have been particularly difficult for the players, but, now their public dispute with the FAI has been resolved, they are eager to move on.

That was put to bed the minute everything was sorted out,” added McCabe. “For us, it was about getting back on the training ground with Colin, concentrating on today and getting the result, which is obviously what we did.”

Bell has been tasked with using his expertise of the women’s game to lead Ireland to a first-ever major tournament. It’s early days but McCabe believes the signs are positive.

“He’s done great stuff, having won the Champions League with Frankfurt. He’s teaching us a lot and we’re willing to learn and grow. Even with the likes of the U19s and U17s doing as well as they are, we have all that coming through.

“He will set standards and we’ll set standards as players — on the pitch and in training. We want to qualify for a major tournament as we’ve not done that before. We’re in good hands with Colin.”

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Ireland women put off-the-field issues behind them to claim victory over Slovakia

‘I hit a low point, I nearly gave it all up. But I’m back now, I’m in a much better place’

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Ben Blake

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