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'It's been a long time coming, I'm over the moon' - Dream debut for Ireland's newest star Lucy Quinn

The English-born attacker made her impact felt immediately, after a lengthy process to confirm her eligibility.

savannah-mccarthy-and-lucy-quinn-celebrate Lucy Quinn (29) celebrates after the 3-2 win. Source: James Crombie/INPHO

AFTER AN ARDUOUS five-year process to confirm Lucy Quinn’s eligibility to represent the Republic of Ireland, it took her all of three minutes to really make her impact felt.

The English-born Birmingham City star looked the real deal from the get-go at Tallaght Stadium last night; lively down the right, with top-class touches and a quality cross as the Girls In Green took the game to high-flying Australia.

With 2:52 on the clock, she stood over the free-kick she had just won, alongside captain Katie McCabe. Just outside the box and slightly to the left, it was right-footer Quinn who hit it: nicely curled around the wall to kiss the inside of the far post, before cannoning off Matildas goalkeeper Mackenzie Arnold and into the back of the net.

She wheeled away and hit the deck, smothered by her new team-mates as they celebrated a goal, something which had been so rare through the seven-game losing streak they ended last night with a stunning 3-2 win over the Aussies, ranked 22 places above them.

“I couldn’t believe it,” Quinn, who qualifies through her grandparents from Sligo, said afterwards. “I wanted to keep my head and play well for the rest of the game. An unbelievable feeling.

“When you think of a debut, you don’t imagine it will be that good. I’m over the moon.”

It may be chalked off as an own goal, but Quinn is adamant she’s claiming it: “For me that’s a debut goal, no one can take it away from me!”

mackenzie-arnold-is-unable-to-save-a-free-kick-scored-by-lucy-quinn Australia goalkeeper Mackenzie Arnold is unable to save Quinn's free-kick. Source: James Crombie/INPHO

While Vera Pauw hinted that the “amazing” Southampton-born attacker would win her first cap on Monday night, she wasn’t directly told until on Tuesday morning.

“I had some time to process it, but it still doesn’t feel real to be honest. Maybe tomorrow morning I’ll kind of realise,” she smiled.

“I just wanted to get on the pitch but then to find out I was starting. I showed what I can do but there is more to come from me.

“Australia are an unbelievable team. That’s my first international appearance and I knew the standard was going to be higher than I’ve played before. I loved every minute of it and I didn’t feel too out of my depth, I’m really excited and I’ve got a lot more to learn.”

This day last week, Quinn finally got her hands on her Irish passport, meaning a long-awaited green light in her quest to represent the Girls In Green.

Tracing family history, issues with paperwork and Brexit all proved barriers throughout, but the 27-year-old is now officially the latest new face introduced through Pauw’s approach in searching out Irish-eligible players overseas.

Quinn represented England as a Beach Soccer goalkeeper and Great Britain at the World University Games, both in 2017 as the wait dragged on, but neither blocked her route.

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ireland-players-celebrate-with-goalscorer-lucy-quinn Celebrations after Quinn's goal. Source: James Crombie/INPHO

“This has been a really long process,” she said. “It’s something that I always wanted to do. There were some complications trying to get hold of family records, obviously it’s not always easy, and then with Brexit and Covid, there were lots and lots of speed bumps on the way.

“To even just be in at camp, I was happy and wanted to make my family proud. To top it off tonight was great. I honestly started the process about five years ago, so yeah it’s been a long time coming. I’m sure my family in Sligo will be really proud.”

Due to the last-minute nature of her call-up, none of her immediate family made it to the game but they were waiting to hear all about it. Until that moment, she says it’s hard to get her head around.

“To be honest, it hasn’t sunk in yet. Maybe when I get inside and talk to my family maybe it will feel a bit more real. It’s still a bit of a dream at the minute.”

In a rather ironic twist of fate, Matildas 18-year-old wonderkid Mary Fowler scored their two goals; another Irish-eligible star lighting up Tallaght before being reunited with her grandfather afterwards.

Girls In Green stalwarts Louise Quinn and Denise O’Sullivan scored the other goals – the latter’s also deflected – in their final run-out before belatedly opening their 2023 World Cup qualifying campaign against Sweden next month.

About the author:

Emma Duffy

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