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'To go somewhere and be paid to play would definitely be a breath of fresh air'

After her player-of-the-match display against Ukraine, Rianna Jarrett is the latest guest on The Football Family.

rianna-jarrett-celebrates-scoring-her-sides-second-goal Rianna Jarrett celebrates after scoring for the Republic of Ireland in the Euro 2021 qualifier against Ukraine. Source: Laszlo Geczo/INPHO

THE MORNING AFTER their Euro 2021 qualifier against Ukraine, the Republic of Ireland players who featured in the 3-2 win at Tallaght Stadium headed for Dublin Airport.

The UK, Germany, USA and Portugal were among the destinations as they embarked on their journeys back to their respective clubs — with one notable exception.

Rianna Jarrett’s player-of-the-match performance was even more impressive given that she was the only Ireland player on the field who’s currently juggling her commitments as an international footballer with an entirely separate full-time job at home.

On Thursday morning, Jarrett returned to her desk at Equifax in Wexford. Thirty-six hours after scoring her first senior international goal, the hero’s welcome from her colleagues in the office eased the transition back into the day job.

The 25-year-old striker is quick to express her gratitude to her employer for providing her with the flexibility required to balance work and sport at the highest level. Ultimately, however, she’s understandably keen to experience life as a full-time footballer.

It’s likely that such an opportunity would already have presented itself had she not endured such rotten luck with injuries. Jarrett is finally establishing herself with Ireland, having overcome no fewer than three anterior cruciate knee ligament ruptures.

During her appearance as the guest on Episode Eight of The Football Family podcast, she explained that although a move to a professional club abroad is an aim, her immediate focus is on helping Wexford Youths to end the season positively.

Another Women’s National League title is out of reach for the Ferrycarrig Park outfit, but they’ll hope to successfully defend the FAI Women’s Cup when they take on Shelbourne or Peamount United in next month’s final at the Aviva Stadium.

“I am hoping that I can get myself a move,” Jarrett says. “Obviously with the injuries in the last couple of years, it has been kind of stop-start progress for myself playing-wise.

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“There were a number of years where I didn’t play much football at all. From there it was about getting back on the pitch and staying on the pitch, but I’ve been back for a good two-and-a-half years now and I think I’m in possibly the best shape that I’ve ever been and playing the best football that I’ve played in a while.

“I’ve added some new attributes to my game as well, so hopefully that’ll go in my favour. Hopefully Tuesday night’s game [against Ukraine] will help in that as well, and we’ll kind of see where we are. But at the minute I’m kind of just looking to finish the season strong with Wexford Youths.”

Jarrett is on the training ground with Wexford Youths two evenings per week to prepare for a game each weekend. For the past 12 months, that work has been supplemented by twice-a-week sessions with strength and conditioning coach Adam Whitmore.

If her display against Ukraine suggested that Jarrett has taken her game to the next level, she believes “the turning point” was her decision to employ the services of nutritionist Yvonne Treacy earlier this year.

Like each of her Wexford Youths team-mates, Jarrett is also required to raise €500 in sponsorship every season to keep the team afloat.

rianna-jarrett-orlaith-conolon-and-lauren-dwyer-celebrate-with-the-trophy Jarrett with Wexford Youths team-mates Orlaith Conlon and Lauren Dwyer after the 2018 FAI Women's Cup final. Source: Ryan Byrne/INPHO

To that end, earning a full-time salary from a football club, where nutrition and strength and conditioning are provided as standard, would significantly alter the landscape. 

She says: “To go somewhere and be paid to play would definitely be a breath of fresh air, because it is difficult trying to balance working full-time and trying to play sport at the highest level you can. It is tough to juggle both. You obviously need some time for family and friends as well in between all of that.

“But I have no complaints at the minute. Everything is going well with Wexford Youths. We haven’t had the best league campaign that we would have liked, but we’ve got the cup final to look forward to now on 3 November, so we’ll be looking to finish on a high.”

During a wide-ranging discussion, Jarrett also revealed how she chose football over tennis, despite her ability on the court earning her an offer of a scholarship for a private school in England, as well as the chance to show off her skills at 10 Downing Street for the British Prime Minister and a three-time Wimbledon champion.

Access to The Football Family — including Episode Eight with Rianna Jarrett — is one of the many exclusive benefits available to our membership. Details of how you can become a member for just €5 per month — or €42 for an entire year — are available here.

 To get in touch with the show, e-mail thefootballfamily@the42.ie 

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About the author:

Paul Dollery

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