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Feeling the pressure after 'dream come true' and advice for fellow English-born recruit

‘Competitive Lucy’ on her ever-blossoming international career, all things Ireland-Sweden and struggles at Birmingham City.

Lucy Quinn at today's Republic of Ireland WNT Media Event at the Castleknock Hotel, Dublin.
Lucy Quinn at today's Republic of Ireland WNT Media Event at the Castleknock Hotel, Dublin.
Image: Ryan Byrne/INPHO

A WEEK OUT from the resumption of the 2023 World Cup qualifying campaign, and the buzz in camp is palpable as the Republic of Ireland squad reconvene.

Vera Pauw’s side face one of the world’s best sides, Sweden, in Gothenburg next Tuesday, as their bid to reach a first-ever major tournament hits new heights. While the hosts release questionable videos and unveil kits detailing ‘How to stop Sweden,‘ the visitors focus firmly on themselves.

Lucy Quinn smiles from ear-to-ear as she tells of her excitement to be back, and then shares an interesting insight.

“Coming into this camp felt different for me personally because I’m becoming more of a regular feature here,” the English-born attacker, a new recruit ahead of this campaign, told reporters at the Castleknock Hotel this afternoon.

The Birmingham City star went on to explain further:

“I came in originally to see what I could do and see if I could adapt to the squad, to be a good addition. Now, the manager and the girls are expecting things of me regularly. They’re asking me to produce in games. Now, I come in with that on my shoulders, knowing I’m going to have to contribute.

“I’m really enjoying that part of it, knowing I’m being relied on a little bit now, but also just the position we’ve put ourselves in, getting some great results in the campaign and it becoming more realistic that we can seriously do something in this group. It’s about taking that pressure and running with it.”

lucy-quinn Quinn in training this afternoon. Source: Ryan Byrne/INPHO

Quinn, who qualifies for the Girls In Green through her grandparents, first joined the fold ahead of last September’s international friendly win over Australia, and has gone on to establish herself as a regular starter since with eight caps and two goals to her name.

From day dot, Pauw made her belief and trust in Quinn clear and catapulted her straight into the XI. She hasn’t looked back and is certainly repaying the faith, despite never expecting to establish herself at international level so quickly.

“Your relationship with the manager, wherever you go, is the most important thing,” she reflects. “They have to have faith in you and believe you can play an important part in the team. As soon as I came in [Pauw] made it very clear that she was so excited to have me here and get me involved

“Starting in that first game, she didn’t need to say anything – she’d instilled me with a lot of trust. She has faith in my ability. That gave me confidence but also gave me responsibility to go out and perform.”

“I was just thrilled to be in with the squad, even just training with the players that are here,” she adds. “Obviously getting my passport last minute was unexpected and I didn’t expect to feature in that Australia game at all.

“I’ve been a regular ever since then which is a dream come true and something I never thought would happen. It’s also brought a little bit of pressure. You need to produce, and I think that’s only going to help make me better.”

There’s one uncapped player in the squad this window: Lily Agg. Not so long ago, Quinn was in the London City Lionesses midfielder’s shoes.

English-born Agg trained with the team in April 2021 and while Quinn wasn’t there at the time, she has crossed paths with her new international team-mate in the past.

“I know Lily quite well,” she explains, having played against one another and then almost with each other for Team GB at the 2017 World University Games in Tapei but a move to Germany ended Aggs’ involvement.

“I was really happy for her when she got the chance to come in with the squad. I was on the phone straight away to say congrats. I gave her a bit of a hard time as well because she’s probably feeling like I was, a little bit nervous. I told her that I’m not going to take her under my wing – she’s on her own! All jokes aside, recently I’ve been in a similar position and I know the girls are great and super welcoming. She’ll love it.”

Any particular words of wisdom or pieces of advice? “The first thing I said was, ‘Keep your head down’, but I didn’t really mean it,” Quinn laughs.

“As soon as you get into the group everyone wants to get to know you and know what you’re about, especially on the pitch. Go and show what can you can do — that’s why you’re here ultimately.”

That’s what the 28-year-old has done herself for both country and club over the past few months, showing glimpses of brilliance through both the highs and the lows.

Embroiled in a relegation battle with Irish-influenced Birmingham in the Women’s Super League, Quinn and co. feel “a massive weight on your shoulders” as they navigate a difficult season.

“It’s a position none of us wanted to be in,” she frowns. “I think everyone who has been in and around Birmingham or watched our performances can say we’ve given absolutely everything.

arsenal-v-birmingham-city-barclays-fa-womens-super-league-lv-bet-stadium-meadow-park Dejected on Birmingham duty. Source: PA

“Some of the performances have been top-drawer and we just haven’t got the result. It is tough but you have to keep fighting till the end. There’s still points available. It’s not over until it’s over.

“Personally, it was a season I think I needed in my career; playing regular minutes, being a bit more of a senior player in the squad. I think that was really important for me, especially coming into my international career.”

While Quinn started hers, others looked to revitalise theirs after Ireland fell agonisingly short in their bid to reach the 2022 European Championships.

She didn’t experience the hurt and heartbreak, but she sees her team-mates using it as motivation as they look to right the wrongs and reach a first-ever major tournament.

“It’s definitely rubbed off on me,” she nods. “You kind of feel like, I’m in this new group of players that have been brought in to make sure that doesn’t happen again. Maybe it is a bit of a blessing, but I’d have loved there to have helped.”

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Now, she can, as Ireland sit second in Group A with a play-off spot in their sights through a challenging run-in. “It’s hugely exciting. It’s not something I expected so early in my international career. We’ve set ourselves up and put ourselves in an unbelievable position. If we can get results from those games it suddenly becomes realistic that we could be on the plane and going to a World Cup. I just hope we get it over the line.”

That’s a long way away yet, though.

savannah-mccarthy-and-lucy-quinn-celebrate Quinn (29) after her Ireland debut. Source: James Crombie/INPHO

With all eyes on Sweden in Gothenburg next Tuesday night, Quinn won’t shy away from the monumental task at hand, hailing their “world-class players and well-organised, talented team” who will unquestionably dominate possession.

“The calibre of team they are, they’re second in the world for a reason,” Quinn states. “You watch them in the Olympics and you watch what they’re doing in their club careers and stuff like that, it’s something you want to be a part of.

“You want to play those games, you want to test yourself. We played them in Tallaght and put on a good performance. If that doesn’t fill you with confidence I don’t know what will.

“Being underestimated might come in useful. We all kind of know we are [underdogs] but we can put ourselves in an unbelievable position in the group if we can get results against Sweden. If we can get results against Finland, Slovakia, it really sets us up and makes people take notice of what this small little country is doing on the international stage.”

Result, she says. Would she take a draw, and head home happy with one point?

“If you ask me now I’ll say no, I want to win,” Quinn deadpans.

“Ask me the morning after the game, after we’d gotten a draw, and I’d be a little more logical and what that would mean, then I’d probably take it.

“Competitive Lucy at the minute wants the win.”

BTL 5

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