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'I think into the future of being at the Euros' - Ireland's Mighty Quinn remains full of belief

Why show up if you don’t believe, asks the ever-reliable centre-half ahead of the Germany showdown. Crazy things can happen in football.

Ireland defender Louise Quinn.
Ireland defender Louise Quinn.
Image: Filip Filipovic/INPHO

A TIMELY NUGGET of inspiration recently flashed up on Louise Quinn’s phone.

The ever-reliable centre-back was in camp, preparing for one of the biggest games of her international career when she was reminded of Ireland’s famous 0-0 World Cup qualifier draw against the Netherlands in 2017.

The Girls In Green held the European champions — who went on to reach the final only to beaten by USA — scoreless in Nijmegen, and it’s certainly something they’ll remember fondly as they go in as huge underdogs against Germany in their final Euro 2022 qualifier at Tallaght Stadium on Tuesday.

“The picture of us celebrating afterwards popped up,” Quinn smiles, knowing that nothing less than a win this time will do if Ireland are to qualify for the play-offs.

“It was three years ago yesterday or the day before or something like that, and that was one of those games you get a result from and maybe you didn’t expect it.

“We can now take that another step further and get a proper result, a proper three points… I think we can look back to that game and get a bit of inspiration, even just that feeling of achievement of how far we’ve come.

“We’re definitely aiming for that again, and more, on Tuesday: that feeling that these things can happen in football, you can get results from the best teams in the world.”

While Shane Long’s heroics at the Aviva Stadium in 2015, massive upsets in the GAA world and past experiences against Germany have all been referenced as inspiration by Vera Pauw and her players over the past few days, Quinn looks elsewhere.

How much it would mean to reach a first-ever major tournament is a huge drive.

Personally, I think into the future a little bit as well and just what that feeling would be to be in a Euro play-off, or to be at the Euros. For me, that’s my vision. I’ll take all of those great experiences from the past but literally, when I think into the future of being there, that gives me those good feelings and good vibes.”

There’s plenty of that in the set-up at the minute, the current Fiorentina and former Arsenal defender assures, positivity shining through with every word she utters.

She’s loving every second of the build-up, despite the height of the task at hand with confidence and momentum building nicely, certainly after a really successful session yesterday.

“The mood is it just really relaxed and for me, that’s exactly how you want it to be: relaxed, enjoying the football and just taking in everything. Essentially, we know what our job is, we know what result we need to make this happen. We just want it.

“We’ve been very, very real and realistic about what we need to do and obviously the opponent that we’re facing, there’s no hiding that and there’s no point.

“But in training, it’s been some of the best football coming into some of the games that we’ve played in a long time. The mood is really high at the moment.”

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It’s a stark contrast to the days post-Kiev. A gut-wrenching 1-0 defeat to Ukraine came as a hammer blow to their Euro 2022 qualification hopes, nothing falling their way on the night. But that’s football, as the Wicklow native and her team-mates have said all week.

“It was really difficult, there’s no doubt about it. You definitely gave yourself a bit of time to be moping around the place and be a little bit moody alright. I was fitting right in with the Italians, being moody and doing all the hand gestures and all that,” she grins.

“I think that was a good way for me to just try to deal with it; be upset with it, take it on and learn from that game. It was very, very hard to take but at the end of the day, that’s football.

“You’ve got to step yourself up and take this game to be the one. Even learning from that game… crazy things can happen in football and it’s going to be the same going into Germany and getting these results.

“We have got to have our best game, there is no doubt about it,” the stalwart, who forms a formidable centre-back partnership — and goal threat — with Diane Caldwell, warns.

Even if they have already qualified, or this that the other, they are still by far one of the strongest teams in the world so we know we have to have a 10 out of 10 game, but it is absolutely possible from the talent that we have, strength from set-pieces, defensively.”

The belief is certainly there, and that’s helped by Pauw’s side’s positive second-half showing in Essen, as they kept it 3-0 while Germany scored much more against other teams.

That was a learning curve too, with a deeper understanding of their opponents commanded.

The understanding of what’s at stake here is clear as day too, and Quinn doesn’t have to think twice when she’s asked if there’s still a level of belief her team can qualify for Euro 2022.

“Absolutely,” she nods. “We wouldn’t be here if we didn’t think so. Or if people didn’t think it, there is no point being here. You have got to believe. We know that it is still in our hands, yes against a very tough opponent but it is still in our hands to get that play-off spot as well.

“So we have to get out there, enjoy our football, give everything we have got and put in a performance that we can do. We know they are going to have a lot of possession of the ball but it is what we do to counteract that and what we do with our own chances.

“We have an understanding that this is our shot so everyone just has to give 100%.”

Screenshot 2020-11-24 at 9.04.07 AM

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Emma Duffy

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