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'She's top quality, she's box office, but we need to get more out of her'

Could Katie McCabe be even better for Ireland in a different role? The Football Family podcast discusses.

Katie McCabe celebrates after scoring Ireland's equaliser against Slovakia last night at Tallaght Stadium.
Katie McCabe celebrates after scoring Ireland's equaliser against Slovakia last night at Tallaght Stadium.
Image: Laszlo Geczo/INPHO

AFTER THE EUPHORIA of the recent win away to Finland, the progress made by Ireland in Helsinki was hindered considerably last night against Slovakia.

Vera Pauw’s side targeted three points at Tallaght Stadium, but the visitors dealt a blow to Ireland’s hopes of qualifying for the 2023 Women’s World Cup by deservedly earning a share of the spoils.

The 1-1 draw is assessed in detail on the latest episode of The Football Family – a podcast that is exclusively available to The42 members.

As Emma Duffy and Gavin Cooney share their views with Paul Dollery, Ireland’s use of talismanic captain Katie McCabe is one of the main talking points.

As ever, McCabe featured prominently on the night; she conjured up a brilliant finish to equalise after Slovakia had gone ahead early in the second half. 

However, the talented Arsenal star again started the game at left wing-back. Could Ireland get even more from the 26-year-old Dubliner by deploying her in a different role?

“For games like that in which the onus is on Ireland to break the opponent down, they need their best players and most creative players closer to goal and more central,” said Gavin.

“If they’re more central they’ll get on the ball more often, and if they’re closer to goal they’re more likely to score. The one time we saw Katie McCabe in a central position, relatively dangerous, she scored.

“Ireland have got a left-footed centre-back in Savannah McCarthy who could possibly have pushed across there; maybe not started the game there but certainly when Ireland were chasing it she could have been pushed over to left-back to bring Katie further infield.

“For too long, McCabe was stuck out on the left wing, bottled up by Slovakian defenders and not effective enough.”

McCabe is now preparing to lead Ireland into a must-win clash with Georgia in Tallaght on Tuesday, but the role she’ll play against the lowest-ranked team in Group A remains to be seen. 

“It depends on the game,” said Emma, who believes that the enormous contribution being made by Katie McCabe to this Ireland team could be increased even further by using her in a more advanced position.

“Different opposition requires different tactics, but I do think in general that Katie is better used closer to goal and maybe more centrally. She is magic, as best seen through that goal. It took the roof off Tallaght Stadium.

“She’s top quality, she’s box office, but I do think that we need to get more out of her.” 

You can hear the episode in full, as well as accessing a huge array of other podcasts and newsletters, by becoming one of our valued members for just €5 per month.

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