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Dublin: 7 °C Monday 18 November, 2019

'I want people to know that I'm a good footballer and not just about that one goal'

Stephanie Roche has been in fantastic form for her club and country in recent months.

Roche scored an impressive hat-trick last night.
Roche scored an impressive hat-trick last night.
Image: Tommy Dickson/INPHO

ALMOST THREE YEARS since she scored that goal for Peamount, Stephanie Roche is still one of the names that immediately comes to mind when you think of Irish women’s soccer.

The Sunderland striker has really been proving her worth over the past couple of months, both with her club and with her country. She was one of the focal points of last night’s 9-0 demolition of Montenegro, scoring a hat-trick.

Roche’s famous volley, which she scored against Wexford Youths in October 2013, was shortlisted for a Puskas Award, narrowly losing out to James Rodriguez.

“It was a great experience but it’s in the past now. I just want to move on from it and continue to progress as a footballer” Roche told The42.

“I want people to know that I’m a good footballer and not just about that one goal.

The other day we met some of the kids and someone said, ‘Did you see her goal?’ and she said, ‘Yeah yeah, the header’ — so I was happy to hear that it wasn’t the Puskas goal,” she laughs.

“It’s just good to be seen as a footballer and to be able to make an impact now like I am.”

Stephanie Roche celebrates wit the team Roche celebrates with her teammates after scoring a free-kick last night. Source: Tommy Dickson/INPHO

The Dublin native signed for Sunderland last June, after a brief stint at US club Houston Dash. She’s established herself on the WSL scene this year, starting most of The Black Cats’ games and scoring recently against Chelsea.

“With everything that happened last year, it wasn’t easy for me to settle in first-time. If you think about it, it’s probably my first proper settled professional club, and it’s something that I had to work hard at.

“I’m just happy that (head coach Carlton Fairweather) has given me my chance this season and I’ve been able to take it. I feel a lot more confident.

“I’m really happy to be getting that run of games and hitting a bit of form.”

As regards international duty, Ireland have one more Euro qualifier to fulfill in September after a disappointing campaign, but their attention now turns to the 2019 World Cup qualifiers.

“I think tonight was obviously a statement from the players that we really really want to get to a finals. I think we owed the fans that. We were very disappointed to lose to Finland, we know that we messed it up ourselves, and that it was our own fault.

“We need to focus now on the World Cup campaign and try get ourselves in order with this game and the next game (against Portugal) to get ourselves prepared for that.”

Because of international duty, Roche has been given extra time off at Sunderland and she’s using that to fly out to support her male counterparts in France next week.

“I’m going to the Sweden game so that’s something to look forward to and then I’m back in full-time training on Thursday.

“I think you’ll see a different mentality in everyone next week, particularly if we win the games. I’m really excited for it, I think the Irish fans get behind the team as much as they can.”

The 26-year-old will also appear on RTÉ’s highlights programme throughout the campaign.

“I’ve had a lot of opportunities away from football after everything that happened, but I had to say no to quite a few things because I wanted to get back into football. I think I needed to concentrate on that.

That was my main focus so I’m just happy that RTÉ have come back to me and given me the chance when I do have the time to do it. I’m really looking forward to it.”

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Hat-tricks for Stephanie Roche and Áine O’Gorman as Ireland put 9 past Montenegro

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Emma Duffy

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