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'It has to be now' - The Liverpool captain eyeing a first-ever major tournament for Ireland

Niamh Fahey: ‘You can’t keep saying, ‘We’re building, we’re waiting.’ There’s no more time to talk, it has to be done.’

Niamh Fahey in action against Sweden last week.
Niamh Fahey in action against Sweden last week.
Image: Laszlo Geczo/INPHO

THE TIME IS now to qualify for a first-ever major tournament, says Niamh Fahey.

The Republic of Ireland women’s national team opened their World Cup qualification campaign with a 1-0 defeat to Sweden – the side ranked second in Fifa’s rankings, 31 spots above Ireland – on Thursday night in what was essentially a “free hit”. It’s now all about a crucial clash with Finland tomorrow [KO 4.15pm Irish time, live on RTÉ Two].

It’s early days, but the battle ahead at Helsinki Olympic Stadium could be absolutely massive in the race to qualify for Australia and New Zealand 2023; the fight for second place in Group A set to be a lively one.

And having come so close, yet so far in bids to make history and become the first Irish team to qualify for a major tournament over the past few years, Liverpool captain Fahey says there’s no time like the present.

“It has to be now,” the defensive stalwart stressed just after the loss to Sweden. “There’s no other time to do it. You can’t keep saying, ‘We’re building, we’re waiting,’ it has to be now. There’s no more time to talk, it has to be done.”

Galway native Fahey hailed ”another step in the right direction” and “a really good performance” against the world-class Swedes, despite an unfortunate own goal settling matters. “But unfortunately performances don’t count for anything, it’s results that matter,” she added. “Hopefully now we can push on and get something against Finland.

“They’re second seeds in the group and if we have any intention of qualifying, we have to get a result so that’s how it is.”

If the Girls In Green keep playing like they did against Sweden, can they qualify? Vera Pauw firmly believes so. “Why not?” Fahey says. “I think if you can put in a shift like that and a performance like that, why can’t we? But the big one is Finland, it was never really about Sweden, we have to go to Finland and get a result there.”

A win or a draw, so? “I suppose you’d take a draw away from home,” she answered. “Realistically it wouldn’t be the worst result. A win would be fantastic, a draw would be fine I think.”

They’ll have to do it at the Finns’ national stadium, which holds 39,784 fans, giving them “an added boost, like it gives us having Tallaght sold out”. But Fahey, and Ireland, will be prepared, she insists.

The 34-year-old also had a word for life at Liverpool, and her international team-mates who joined her on Merseyside this summer. Leanne Kiernan, who impressed as a second-half substitute against the Swedes, is enjoying a rich vein of form for the Reds, while injury-haunted Megan Campbell is on the road back from an ankle setback.

“Brilliant to have the girls there It’s such a good thing for the team and also for Ireland, to have that Liverpool connection. Megan now hopefully will be back from her injury and she can hopefully get a good run injury-free, and Leanne is flying.


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“It’s great to see her flying, it’s great to see her buzzing and scoring goals.”

More of that, please. Across the board.

Bernard Jackman, Murray Kinsella, and Gavan Casey discuss Ireland’s squad, women’s rugby reviews, and the Tadhg Beirne incident on The42 Rugby Weekly:

Source: The42 Rugby Weekly/SoundCloud

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Emma Duffy

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