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Dublin: 5°C Sunday 7 March 2021

'I still can't believe it, to be honest. It's something I've dreamed of since I was a little kid'

Prolific Wexford Youths attacker Rianna Jarrett scored her first senior international goal last night.

A FIRST SENIOR international goal and you could tell it meant the world and more to Rianna Jarrett last night in Tallaght Stadium.

The 25-year-old’s horrific injury woes with three separate ACL setbacks have been well-documented. It is her incredible persistence to recover and to keep on going — when it would have been so easy to throw in the towel — which made her header against Ukraine so special.

rianna-jarrett-celebrates-scoring-her-sides-second-goal Striker Rianna Jarrett celebrates doubling Ireland's lead. Source: Laszlo Geczo/INPHO

Jarrett has been prolific form for Wexford Youths in recent seasons. Returning from her third ACL injury, she was top scorer in the Women’s National League in 2018 and was named Player of the Season.

Wexford picked up an incredible hat-trick of titles last term — the Women’s National League, FAI Cup and WNL Shield — and Jarrett was instrumental leading from the front.

She has scored 26 goals already this year, with that electric form seeing her chosen as Ireland’s first-choice striker so far in Euro 2021 qualifying where they have now picked up two wins from two.

“I still can’t believe it, to be honest,” Jarrett told RTÉ Sport’s Tony O’Donoghue after yesterday’s 3-2 win against Ukraine reflecting on her first senior goal.

“It’s something I’ve dreamed of since I was a little kid, and something I’ve dreamed of since I got back into the international set-up.”

Jarrett was one of only three home-based players selected in new manager Vera Pauw’s squad this week. The Wexford native said Ireland could not have hoped for a better result on a night where a new attendance record for a women’s international was set.

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All didn’t go completely according to plan, however. Jarrett set up captain Katie McCabe for Ireland’s opener, before doubling the Girls in Green’s advantage with her header from close range.

Pauw’s side then let their two-goal lead slip, before a Ukraine own goal (where Jarrett was instrumental in the build-up) after the interval secured a vital three points against Group I’s second-seeds.

“I couldn’t have asked for better, to be honest,” the striker said of her own performance leading the line up front. “I think we started really lively. We got the the two goals in the first-half of the first-half, and we were delighted.

“[We were] a bit disappointed going in level at half-time, but we knew if we started the second-half the way we had the first, we’d be well in contention.”

Ireland have enjoyed a 100% start to their Euro qualifying campaign with back-to-back wins against Montenegro and Ukraine. Germany still remain top of Group I with 12 points (albeit having played two extra games).

Next up Pauw’s side — who are vying to become the first Irish women’s side to qualify for a senior international competition — face Greece away on 12 November, before welcoming them to Dublin on 6 March next year.

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Aaron Gallagher

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