Pauw discloses agony of omitting players from Irish World Cup squad

Vera Pauw talking to media

Vera Pauw talking to media Credit: Conor Ryan (ETPhotos)

Luke Jordan reports from UCD

An emotional Vera Pauw faced the media today after announcing the Irish squad for the World Cup in Australia and New Zealand next month.

For some, it was a joyous day, but for others, it will be one of the most heart-breaking days of their careers. Irish manager Vera Pauw, speaking to the media today at UCD, looked an exhausted figure after many sleepless nights spent deciding who would make the plane.

Pauw described the past few days as 'devastating' and spoke of the pain of leaving players at home.

The name that notably was not included in the World Cup squad was Jamie Finn. The Birmingham midfielder had been a key figure in qualifying, having played a pivotal role in games against Sweden and Scotland.

On Finn's exclusion, Pauw described it as the 'hardest decision' she had to make but explained her thought process behind the decision.

“It was the hardest, hardest decision, as she has been part of the squad all the time. But you’ve also noticed that we have changed our playing system. We have Kyra Carusa as a target player now, which has moved Heather Payne to the right side with pace on the wing.

"Those options mean that you have to make tough decisions, and Jamie especially, because she played and earned her credit. We’ve gone through every single video moment over the last two weeks but you also see Jamie was not involved in the last few games. That is tactical, it’s not because of her. That's team sport, it’s elite sport, it’s football.”

However, Pauw spoke of her delight that Finn was travelling to the World Cup as one of the three training players.

“We wanted her to be part of it. We are so happy she is still part of our squad, that she is travelling with us. She will be a full member of the squad at every moment. I had contact three times with FIFA yesterday to make sure everything is arranged for them.

The Irish boss also mentioned Harriet Scott, another player who unfortunately missed out on the final squad, “That they are aware that we bring those players as a full part of the squad. It’s so important that Jamie and Harriet are involved”.

On Leanne Kiernan’s exclusion, Pauw cited the lack of game time after her return from injury, which the data showed in terms of ‘explosive actions’, was part of the reason why she was not picked for the squad for the trip down under.

Recently capped Aoife Mannion and stalwart Megan Campbell's omissions were due to injuries, and they had not sufficiently recovered in time.

When asked whether it was always the plan to include Sinead Farrelly and Marisa Sheva in the World Cup squad once they had declared, Pauw said about Farrelly, “Sinead Farrelly, yeah. You’ve seen her quality, yeah? USA game, first cap, into a squad, completely new, and so dominant.

“Remember, she has done everything herself. After she got her passport, we got in contact, so her heart wants to be here, and that was before we qualified. That’s when she started the process”.

She went on to reveal that many Irish-eligible players alerted the FAI about their eligibility to try to get a place in the Irish squad ahead of the World Cup, but this was not something the Irish manager was interested in.

“We have had many, many players dumped on my desk in my emails that tried to jump on the bandwagon because there was a World Cup we had qualified for. We did not go into that; we only went for the players who were there, with a full heart, who had done what they had to over the last two years as this was a two-year process”.

“Sinead only got in contact after she had got her passport. Marissa was before we had qualified already, that process was going on. The only thing we had to wait for was the clearance”, Pauw disclosed.

From a League of Ireland perspective, it was a good day. Shamrock Rovers' Aine O’Gorman and teenage sensation Abbie Larkin were included in the 23-player panel. When asked about this being a positive for the Women’s Premier Division, Pauw was quick to point out the other players in the squad who have come through the League of Ireland pathway.

“And all the players that have come from the League of Ireland and went to England, we should not forget to count them because two years ago they were playing here.

The Dutch coach continued, “Nine players coming from the WNL. The WNL is so important. We’re going to help to get them (the clubs) closer to the WSL (Women’s Super League) level, but that is really hard.

While Pauw acknowledged the financial difference between the Irish and English leagues, she stressed the need to focus on improving the quality of Irish players rather than seek extra finances from sponsorship.

“We all know the difference in financial resources WSL clubs get from sponsors and maybe we should not aim for that, maybe we should aim for focusing on quality which we do already for years and if you see the difference where the league is now to where I started four years ago”.

The Irish manager highlighted the development of the game in Ireland since her arrival four years ago, and praised the people involved in the game here for that.

“I have nothing to do with that. That is all my colleagues working on that and the clubs themselves. If you see the difference in that, it’s amazing, so we can only grow from that and get more players like Abbie and Tara (O’Hanlon), jumping up”.

Pauw also divulged why the highly-rated O’Hanlon was left out of the squad, “The only reason Tara is not making it is she is jumping up five levels”.

Listen to further reaction to the squad announcement on the podcast which will be out this Thursday.

Ireland WNT Squad
Goalkeepers: Courtney Brosnan (Everton), Grace Moloney (Reading), Megan Walsh (Brighton & Hove Albion)
Defenders: Heather Payne (Florida State University), Áine O'Gorman (Shamrock Rovers), Niamh Fahey (Liverpool), Louise Quinn (Birmingham City), Diane Caldwell (Reading), Claire O'Riordan (Celtic), Megan Connolly (Brighton & Hove Albion), Chloe Mustaki (Bristol City), Izzy Atkinson (West Ham United)
Midfielders: Katie McCabe (Arsenal), Denise O'Sullivan (North Carolina Courage), Lily Agg (London City Lionesses), Ruesha Littlejohn (Aston Villa), Ciara Grant (Hearts), Sinead Farrelly (NJ/NY Gotham), Lucy Quinn (Birmingham City)
Forwards: Kyra Carusa (London City Lionesses), Amber Barrett (Standard Liege), Marissa Sheva (Washington Spirit), Abbie Larkin (Shamrock Rovers)

Training Players: Sophie Whitehouse, Harriet Scott, Jamie Finn