World Cup qualification would be 'transformative' for Irish women's football

Ireland’s bid to reach the 2023 tournament in Australia & New Zealand begins this week in Dublin.

The Ireland team pictured before last month's victory against Australia at Tallaght Stadium.
The Ireland team pictured before last month's victory against Australia at Tallaght Stadium.
Image: James Crombie/INPHO

FOR THE IRELAND women’s national team, another bid to reach a major tournament begins in Dublin this Thursday night.

The opening game of the World Cup qualifying campaign against Sweden provides the framework for the latest instalment of The Football Family – a podcast which is exclusively available to The42 members.

To assess Ireland’s overall prospects of making it to the 2023 tournament in Australia and New Zealand, Emma Duffy and Gavin Cooney join Paul Dollery on the show.

The preview of the visit of the second-best team in the world to Tallaght Stadium also features a fresh interview with Ireland manager Vera Pauw.

After disappointing results away to Ukraine and Greece cost Pauw’s side a place in the play-offs for the European Championship, they’ll be determined to capitalise on their latest chance to make the elusive breakthrough on the biggest stage.

“It would be transformative to get to a first major tournament,” Gavin said. “It’s so much harder to get into the World Cup than it is the Euros, obviously, and I think there might be a bit of pressure on Vera Pauw to at least come close this time. They made such a mess of it with the Euros; they should have qualified.

“I felt that a lot of the coverage was a little bit patronising in the sense that it didn’t focus on what they did wrong and it wasn’t critical enough of the team.

“You can’t be too critical of Pauw because she wasn’t in charge for the full campaign, but the really careless draw against Greece and how they managed to lose that game to the Ukraine was ridiculous. We saw Ukraine then knocked out of the play-offs by Northern Ireland. It was a massive opportunity missed.

“You could even see from Denise O’Sullivan’s body language after the Ukraine game, because she knew there was a big opportunity missed. It would be totally transformative [to qualify] but to get through this group will be very, very difficult.”

Following Thursday’s meeting with Sweden, Ireland will travel to Helsinki for a vital game against a Finland side who, like the Swedes, also qualified for the Euros.

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“It would be absolutely massive if they were to qualify to bring women’s football on these shores to the next level,” said Emma.

“There have been so many positive developments over the past few weeks off the field, but it’s time to deliver on it. That’s the big message for this campaign.”

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