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Mixed news for Irish abroad as Women's Bundesliga sets return date but English top-flight in doubt

Three Irish internationals play their football in Germany while 12 stars are on the books across the water.

WHILE MOST IRISH footballers across the world remain at a standstill amid the Covid-19 sporting shutdown, some are slowly but surely making their return.

foozball SC Sand's Diane Caldwell (left) and Arsenal's Katie McCabe. Source: PA Images.

The German Bundesliga got underway once again last weekend, and it was confirmed last night that the women’s top-flight equivalent — the Frauen-Bundesliga — will follow suit and resume behind closed doors on 29 May after a three-month suspension.

“I am very happy that the Bundesliga’s women’s clubs have come out in favour of the continuation of the season,” the country’s football federation [DFB] president, Fritz Keller, said following a meeting with clubs and the green light from local health authorities. “It’s precisely this unity that we need during this crisis.”

Three Irish internationals play their football in Germany. Star defender Diane Caldwell — who scored crucial back-to-back Euro qualification goals for Vera Pauw’s side before the shutdown — plies her trade at SC Sand, while fellow Claire O’Riordan and Donegal striker Amber Barrett are enjoying their time at MSV Duisburg and FC Koln respectively.

While former Wexford Youths ace O’Riordan returned home for a stint, Caldwell and Barrett remained in Germany and have returned to training with their clubs. “It’s strange but we’re grateful to be training again,” as the former told The42 at the end of April.

When the season came to a sudden halt after 16 games, Wolfsburg were on top of the table with 46 points, eight ahead of second-placed Bayern Munich. SC Sand sit seventh while Duisburg and Koln — the only club to abstain from voting on a resumption of the season in late April, as 11 of the 12 were in favour — are facing into a battle for survival.

Meanwhile, the remainder of the Women’s Super League [WSL] — the English top-flight — season is in severe doubt, with a decision expected late this week. 12 Irish internationals line out in the league.

BBC Sport reported yesterday that WSL and Women’s Championship teams are assuming their season will not resume amid the Covid-19 pandemic. But no decisions will be finalised until a formal consultation process concludes.

west-ham-united-v-brighton-and-hove-albion-fa-womens-super-league-rush-green-stadium 21-year-old Cavan ace Leanne Kiernan plays her football with West Ham. Source: EMPICS Sport

It’s understood that clubs are set to receive a letter from the Football Association [FA] seeking their views, and a joint-board will then decide how to determine final placings.

This would lead to knock-on effects, such as how England’s two qualifying teams for next season’s Champions League will be determined as Uefa’s deadline approaches, as well as relegation and promotion processes.

Manchester City — home of Ireland duo Megan Campbell and Tyler Toland, with former Irish international Alan Mahon in interim charge — are currently a point clear atop the WSL table.

But second-placed Chelsea and reigning champions Arsenal, in third — where Katie McCabe and Louise Quinn ply their trade — both have a game in hand, and Chelsea have the best average points-per-game record.

Niamh Fahey’s Liverpool are bottom of the table, with Birmingham and Bristol also among the strugglers.

The full list of Ireland internationals in the WSL is as follows:

Arsenal

  • Katie McCabe
  • Louise Quinn

Manchester City

  • Megan Campbell
  • Tyler Toland

Liverpool

  • Niamh Fahey

West Ham

  • Leanne Kiernan
  • Courtney Brosnan
  • Ruesha Littlejohn

Reading

  • Grace Moloney

Brighton

  • Rianna Jarrett
  • Megan Connolly

Birmingham

  • Harriet Scott

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Emma Duffy

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