Sinead Farrelly impressed on the world stage. Ryan Byrne/INPHO

Sinéad Farrelly: 'I'm ready to close that chapter and to keep going'

The Ireland midfielder believes ‘the sky’s the limit’ for her team.

ONE CHAPTER CLOSES, another one opens — and the Ireland segment looks set to continue.

Sinéad Farrelly’s journey to the World Cup has been well documented in recent weeks and months. The 33-year-old Gotham FC star is rebuilding her career, having just recently returned to the game after an eight-year hiatus.

After her whirlwind story of abuse, whistleblowing, injury and mental health struggles, Farrelly — who qualifies for the Girls In Green through her Cavan-born father, Sean — is now a World Cup player after her promising start to life as an Ireland international.

“I feel good where I’m at, just focusing on the soccer,” the US-born midfielder says.

“I’m so tired of talking about everything else, you know what I mean, I just want to be… I’m obviously more than a soccer player but while I’m here, I just want to focus on that.

“It’s just been a lot for me emotionally to have to bring the past up. I know it’s a story and everything like that but I feel like now that the World Cup is done, maybe that chapter’s closed. I’m ready to close that chapter and to keep going. It feels good.”

Farrelly is standing in the mixed zone after Ireland’s 0-0 draw with Nigeria, their fate already sealed after narrow defeats to Australia and Canada. (This interview took place before she was mentioned in a substitution over-and-back between Vera Pauw and Katie McCabe.)

How does she reflect on the World Cup adventure?

So close, yet so far?

“I know. It’s sad. I’m so happy we went out on a high note. I’m happy we got a point, we could have won I think but just the creativity that we had, the combination, I think the connections and stuff were good on the field and that’s exciting to go forward.

“But it’s also sad. You look back and you’re like, ‘Ah we…’ I dunno, just small margins. We could have tied the first game or won the first game. If the ball bounced a different way, it could have looked a little different. You don’t get to redo it. I’m really sad going home knowing that this group will never have that opportunity again. I’ll obviously cherish this experience forever and I’m so happy I had the opportunity. But it’s a rollercoaster, you know.

“It just leaves us hungry for more. We can hang in there. I think it’s just about changing that mindset from being the underdog to, ‘We’re in it with these guys and we can really go at teams.’”

sinead-farrelly-tackles-christy-ucheibe Farrelly tackles Christy Ucheibe of Nigeria. Ryan Byrne / INPHO Ryan Byrne / INPHO / INPHO

Not only is it bittersweet in a collective capacity, but also in an individual sense. 

Farrelly spoke about feeling “physically ill” before the opener against Australia, but admits she became more comfortable with each passing game.

She really grew into the tournament, showing her class through some superb moments and playing with a real freedom in Monday’s finale against Nigeria.

“I went into the warm-up and I was like, ‘Are we playing a game right now?’ I do better with that. If I can just dissociate and pretend the game’s not happening until the whistle blows, that’s ideal for me. It takes a couple of those games to get the nerves… to do it, and it just sucks. I wish I could have felt that way from the first game but I can’t force it.

“I felt way more free tonight. I think it’s just playing with the team more, building up my own confidence with the team, feeling trusted on the ball. I’m a very emotional person so I need to feel like… I need more time, you know with people to build relationships and stuff, to feel comfortable. I think just the more time spent with everyone has just been helping me.

“The rollercoaster ride of this World Cup, it’s tough but being on a team is amazing, it just brings you closer at the end of the day. Just deepening those relationships off the field really helps as well.”

Farrelly flew back to Dublin with the squad on Tuesday, and plans to spend time with family as she rests and recuperates before returning to NWSL commitments with Gotham.

And then it’s onwards with Ireland, however the uncertain future pans out.

“The way that we ended now just leaves us hungry to get back into camp, keep working, keep getting better. Our potential is just continuing to increase and we want to just keep challenging ourselves.

“I love this group, I love these girls. I just think the sky’s the limit and we’re just going to keep getting better.”

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