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Dublin: 3°C Thursday 26 November 2020
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Captaining Liverpool 'the stuff of dreams' but Fahey now focused on Ireland's 'massive' opportunity

Reaching the Euros ‘would mean everything’ to the Galway native.

NIAMH FAHEY IS hoping that she and her Republic of Ireland team-mates can help to lift the spirits of the nation tomorrow in Kiev by moving a step closer to qualification for a major tournament for the first time.

Ireland will take on Ukraine (5pm, RTÉ 2), knowing that a win would keep them in contention for automatic qualification for the European Championships as one of the three best second-placed teams.

A draw would also be a favourable result for the visitors, as it would guarantee them the consolation of a play-off spot should they fail to advance directly to the July 2022 tournament in England.

niamh-fahey Niamh Fahey pictured during Ireland's win over Greece in March. Source: Ryan Byrne/INPHO

Prior to today’s departure for Kiev on a chartered flight, Ireland have been preparing for tomorrow’s game with a training camp in the German city of Duisburg.

Conscious of the restrictions which have been tightened by the Irish government to combat the spread of Covid-19, the team are keen to be a good news story at a challenging time for the country.

“We’re aware of all the well-wishers and the mood at home not being great,” Fahey said. “At times like this sport can be a relief and hopefully we can provide a bit of feel-good factor by producing a good result on Friday.”

At club level, Fahey is now in her third season at Liverpool, who recently entrusted her with the honour of leading the club into the 2020-21 campaign.

The Reds are now competing in the Championship, England’s second tier, but that hasn’t diminished the significance of the captaincy for someone who supported the club since childhood.

“It’s amazing,” said the versatile defender\midfielder from Galway, who won every major title in the domestic game in England across her spells with Arsenal and Chelsea.

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“It’s such an honour leading the team every weekend, having that extra responsibility. It’s just been fantastic and I’m really enjoying the experience. Hopefully we can return to the top league. Being a fan and being there, it’s the stuff of dreams.”

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Having made her debut back in 2007, Fahey is closing in on her 100th international cap. The most senior member of the squad – who turned 33 last week – is desperate to ensure that Ireland don’t let this opportunity go to waste.

Germany have top spot in Group I sewn up, but the Girls in Green are desperate to make the big breakthrough on the international stage by securing their own qualification for the Euros, which was originally scheduled for next summer until the pandemic altered the plans.

“It would mean everything for me,” Fahey said. “Anywhere I’ve played has been with a view towards playing for Ireland and trying to get us to a major tournament, so it would be one of the pinnacles of my career. It would be just massive.”

Ireland were 3-2 winners when they faced tomorrow’s opponents last October at Tallaght Stadium, with manager Vera Pauw suggesting recently that Ukraine underestimated her side on the night.

The Ukrainians gave their own qualification hopes a shot in the arm last month by recording a 4-0 home victory against Greece. Ireland were held to a 1-1 draw away to the Greeks, before grinding out a 1-0 win in Tallaght.

Fahey said: “Vera is right. We probably went under the radar last year so we expect a different challenge this time, but we have our homework done as well. We’ll be ready for the challenge.”

About the author:

Paul Dollery

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