Looking Back

End of the Vera Era: The highs and lows of Pauw's Ireland tenure

The history-making Dutchwoman had been in charge since September 2019.

THE VERA PAUW Era has come to an end.

The FAI decided against renewing the history-making Ireland manager’s contract last night, bringing her four-year reign to a close four weeks after the World Cup.

Here, The 42 look back on some standout moments from Pauw’s time at the helm.


Hampden history

ireland-celebrate-qualifying-for-the-world-cup Celebrations after the play-off win. Ryan Byrne / INPHO Ryan Byrne / INPHO / INPHO

Pauw, her Ireland squad and women’s football on these shores hit the highest of highs at Glasgow’s Hampden Park last October. Ireland qualified for their first-ever major tournament in the 2023 World Cup with a 1-0 play-off win over Scotland.

The stars aligned as results turned in their favour elsewhere. Amber Barrett was the hero on an emotionally-charged night, the Donegal striker dedicating her goal to the victims of the Creeslough tragedy.

It was a night of ecstasy with Pauw, her players and staff celebrating their momentous achievement together. One needs little reminder of The Dressing Room Chant and fallout which followed, but Pauw was widely commended for her handling of the situation.

Crucial qualifier results

The road to Australia, via Hampden, well and truly kicked off with a monumental 2-1 qualifier win over Finland in Helsinki. It was a massive result against the group’s second seeds, Ireland hitting the front early after Megan Connolly’s free-kick and Denise O’Sullivan bagging the winner.

There was another special night in Gothenburg, Ireland securing a 1-1 draw with a Sweden side ranked second in the world at the time (they’re now top after the World Cup). Again, they struck first, Katie McCabe puncturing the group winner’s party atmosphere at Gamla Ullevi Stadium.

There have been some amazing occasions back home in Tallaght Stadium too: the win over Finland which sealed progression to the play-offs; Pauw’s first game in charge, a 3-2 victory over Ukraine; and a friendly scalp against Australia are all up there.

vera-pauw Pauw on the training field. Ryan Byrne / INPHO Ryan Byrne / INPHO / INPHO

World Cup adventure

“The crown of my career” as Pauw put it in the build-up to the sold-out Sydney opener against Australia, played in front of over 75,000 fans against the co-hosts at Stadium Australia.

After a remarkable journey from Liberty Hall to the Land Down Under, Ireland finally stepped onto the world’s biggest stage — and showed they belonged there. Narrow defeats to the Matildas and Canada followed in an extremely difficult group, before a draw with rising African nation Nigeria delivered an historic first point.

An all-time high of 22nd in the Fifa world rankings and landmark off-field coups like the equal pay deal and the Sky sponsorship are other huge positives Pauw should reflect fondly on in time.


Kyiv heartbreak

This was the lowest of the football lows as Pauw’s first European Championship qualification campaign fell gut-wrenchingly short against Ukraine. Pauw’s Ireland were on the brink of a play-off spot, but Áine O’Gorman’s unfortunate own goal and McCabe’s penalty miss saw the dream blown to smithereens.

Tears flowed on the pitch afterwards as the wait to reach a first-ever major tournament lingered on. In the dressing room, the squad vowed to be at the 2023 World Cup. Defeat to Germany closed out that Euros campaign, while Ukraine lost to Northern Ireland in the play-off. It was a real missed opportunity for the Republic, but they eventually reached the promised land.

Other on-field lows included a seven-game losing run in the build-up to the World Cup qualifying campaign, though these came as Pauw battle-hardened her side against higher-ranked opposition, and the infamous abandoned Colombia friendly.

vera-pauw-dejected After defeat in Ukraine. Aleksandar Djorovic / INPHO Aleksandar Djorovic / INPHO / INPHO

‘The toughest thing in my life’

In July 2022, Pauw revealed that she was raped as a young player in the Netherlands. She also alleged that she suffered two other sexual assaults during her time in Dutch football. “This has been the toughest thing in my life but, finally, I’m ready to move on and be proud of who I am,” she wrote in a statement.


In December 2022, allegations of misconduct were levelled at Pauw in the course of a league-wide investigation into misconduct in America’s NWSL. The FAI backed their manager, and Pauw unequivocally denied all allegations. In the following days, she was crowned RTÉ Sports Manager of the Year.

Further accusations from her time in charge of Houston Dash in 2018 appeared in a report published by The Athletic in July, just days before Ireland’s departure for the World Cup. Again, Pauw refuted all claims.

The ending

It was an ugly end to proceedings. The FAI announced late on Tuesday night, after a marathon board meeting, that Pauw’s contract would not be renewed. It’s understood she was told over the phone by FAI CEO Jonathan Hill.

Pauw had repeatedly said she wanted to remain at the helm, but contract talks are believed to have stalled around the time those fresh allegations overshadowed the build-up to the World Cup. The cracks began to show, and whispers of unrest heightened. Several players were non-committal in their backing of the manager and it all reached boiling point with a public over-and-back with captain McCabe as Ireland exited the World Cup.

They returned to a strange homecoming before the FAI’s internal review got underway.

The drawn-out process came to a shuddering end on Tuesday night, the curtain drawn on the Vera Era.

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