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Lovely moment as 'world-class' Australia wonderkid reunited with Irish grandfather after friendly

Mary Fowler was a shining light for the Matildas last night – a reminder of what could have been.

Updated Sep 22nd 2021, 3:03 PM

mary-fowler-speaks-with-her-grandfather-kevin-fowler-from-dublin-after-the-game Australia's Mary Fowler speaks with her grandfather Kevin Fowler from Dublin after the game. Source: James Crombie/INPHO

THERE WAS A lovely moment after the Republic of Ireland’s international friendly win over Australia last night as Matildas wonderkid Mary Fowler was reunited with her Irish grandfather, Kevin.

18-year-old Fowler scored both Australia goals in the 3-2 defeat to Vera Pauw’s Girls In Green, the attacking sensation a shining light for her side as she lit up Tallaght Stadium and upstaged Sam Kerr on her 100th cap.

The warm embrace and jersey presentation to grandfather, Kevin Fowler from Ballymun, Dublin, was captured beautifully by Sportsfile’s Stephen McCarthy:

Hailed “world-class” by manager Tony Gustavsson afterwards, Fowler’s stunning performance was a reminder that she is another that got away for Irish football.

Fowler, who starred for the Matildas at this summer’s Olympic Games, was indeed very close to wearing the green jersey.

With an Irish father (also Kevin) and a Papua New Guinean mother, Fowler’s Dublin-born older siblings, Ciara and Caoimhin (Quivi), represented Ireland at underage level but Montpellier ace Mary, who was born in Cairns, has played solely for the Aussies.

“Shame, eh,” as Pauw said at her pre-match press conference on Tuesday. “We were very close. I flew in and her Dad flew in, we had a very good meeting. The downside at the moment was that Ciara had already played for Ireland and Australia, and the family wanted to stay together.

“That was the key reason she didn’t choose Ireland. She was almost on her way. We did everything but I wished her good luck. I congratulated her and her Dad about her debut for Australia and her performances at the Olympic Games.

“That is sport and she had the right to choose what was best for her. She is doing wonderful and has a huge career in front of her. Unfortunately, it’s not with us.”

Speaking in 2018, Mary explained her thoughts to AAP: “I want to play for Australia, but obviously Ciara and Caoimhín have played for Ireland. And we all want to play together for the same country. Family is really important to me, it’s important to all of us. I’m not in any rush to make that decision right now, I’m only 15, so we’ll see.”

Fast forward to last night, and Gustavsson reserved special praise for Fowler after she won her 16th cap and scored her third and fourth international goals, identifying her as one of two Australian players - Kyra Cooney-Cross the other – who stood out.

“Mary Fowler’s first half was just world-class, oh my, she is so good out there, on and off the ball and the way she sets players up or movement, she’s floating out there,” he told the Matildas website.

“She’s one-v-three at times, just sliding out of those pressure moments. And then her finishing, we know she’s brilliant, we know she’s brilliant with her right and left foot. So her first half was brilliant.

“I think she wasn’t as effective in the second half because we didn’t attack on the left side in the second half, it was all on the right side, so we kind of lost Mary’s ability there in the second half.”

Spekaing about the game as a whole, Gustavsson said “it felt like Ireland wanted it more” and that the result was a “big disappointment”for the Matildas, ranked 22 places above Ireland in the Fifa World Rankings.

“I think I’m a bit too emotional now to do a good analysis of the game, I might say the wrong things here when I’m too emotional, but I said in the circle with the team afterwards that it felt that they [Ireland] wanted it more than us and that’s not okay.

“With the Matildas, it’s in our DNA to always give it 100%, to play a physical game, to be aggressive, to wear the crest on the chest and always play our best and it felt like Ireland wanted it more.

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republic-of-ireland-v-australia-womens-international-friendly-tallaght-stadium Mary Fowler facing Jamie Finn. Source: PA

“Obviously, I need to look at myself in the mirror as well to ask could I have done something different to prep the team in terms of that.”

The Swede was left to rue basic errors on a night on which they were “off from the whistle”. Rather than one to remember, it’s a display they would rather forget.

“We felt really motivated going into the game because there’s been a lot of focus on Sam Kerr’s 100th game and we said we want to leave our captain with a memory for her life.

“She will remember this game for the rest of her life so we wanted to play extra for our captain and it didn’t look like that tonight. We didn’t look energized and passionate the way I’m used to seeing this team, and that’s not okay.

“We all agreed on that in the circle and the players as well, that it’s not okay.”

Screenshot 2020-11-24 at 9.04.07 AM

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Emma Duffy

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