UEFA Women’s Nations League Preview: Republic of Ireland -v- Northern Ireland
REPUBLIC OF IRELAND
With interim manager Eileen Gleeson in charge for Saturday’s game against Northern Ireland, it will be history in the making as the Girls in Green play their first international at the Aviva Stadium and it also marks their first game in the debut UEFA Women’s Nation League (kick-off 1pm).
The match will be played out in front of a record breaking crowd with in excess of 38,000 tickets sold for the game. The attendance will be certain to eclipse the 7,633 who packed out Tallaght Stadium against France just prior to the squad’s departure to the World Cup.
Gleeson said: “It is a privilege for this group of players and staff to be involved in what will be a historic occasion of playing in the Aviva Stadium for the first time as a Women’s National Team and having what will be a record crowd cheering the team on.
"We understand how important this game is. Preparations are going well. We have a fully fit squad to choose from, which is a credit to players and all staff.
"We expect a tough challenge from Northern Ireland, a team with major tournament experience, and of course a new Head coach in place who brings a wealth of experience and expertise, so we won't be taking anything for granted."
Katie McCabe: ‘It's not just obviously about the squad walking out (on Aviva pitch), it's about everybody who's played their part over the course of the last few years’ https://t.co/6p5gujBE06pic.twitter.com/YvAiboPubC— Extratime.com (@ExtratimeNews) September 23, 2023
Included in the squad is Celtic defender Caitlin Hayes whose international clearance came through on Friday – the day she turned 28.
Eligible through her Offaly-born Grandfather (James Hayes), the centre-back came through at Everton before attending Mississippi College and then launched her senior career with Lewes prior to joining Celtic in 2020.
The Irish squad will go straight to the airport afterwards to fly to Hungary for their second game in Group B1 which takes place next Tuesday evening.
Ireland WNT Squad
Goalkeepers: Courtney Brosnan (Everton), Grace Moloney (London City Lionesses), Megan Walsh (West Ham United)
Defenders: Louise Quinn (Birmingham City), Diane Caldwell (FC Zurich), Caitlin Hayes (Celtic), Claire O’Riordan (Standard Liege), Savannah McCarthy (Shamrock Rovers), Éabha O’Mahony (University of Texas), Hayley Nolan (Crystal Palace), Chloe Mustaki (Bristol City)
Midfielders: Katie McCabe (Arsenal), Denise O’Sullivan (North Carolina Courage), Tyler Toland (Blackburn Rovers), Jamie Finn (Birmingham City), Megan Connolly (Bristol City), Lily Agg (Birmingham City), Heather Payne (Everton), Lucy Quinn (Birmingham City), Marissa Sheva (Washington Spirit), Izzy Atkinson (West Ham United)
Forwards: Kyra Carusa (San Diego Wave), Abbie Larkin (Glasgow City), Amber Barrett (Standard Liege), Saoirse Noonan (Durham WFC), Emily Whelan (Glasgow City)
— Extratime.com (@ExtratimeNews) September 22, 2023
Not only will there be a record home crowd at Saturday’s game but 1,200 visiting fans will also in attendance to see new Northern Ireland senior women’s team manager Tanya Oxtoby in her first game in charge.
The girls in green and white debut in Dublin in the Nations League before welcoming Albania to Seaview in Belfast next Tuesday night.
Former Chelsea Women assistant-manager Oxtoby, made three changes from the squad named for July’s friendlies in Scotland and Czechia. In come Southampton defender Laura Rafferty and Birmingham City Women defender Ellie Mason while Cliftonville Ladies’ Kirsty McGuinness is also back after injury.
Missing out this time are Cliftonville Ladies trio Kelsie Burrows, Fi Morgan and Danielle Maxwell.
Oxtoby described the weekend clash in the Aviva as “a great challenge” when speaking to irishfa.com.
“The Republic of Ireland have come back from a World Cup, so, in that respect they’re in a position where we want to be, which is competing again at major tournaments,” she added.
“It will be a great challenge for us. From our point of view, we’re looking at how we’re going to implement our style of play.
“In terms of our processes and assessing that, it will be key as to whether we’ve been successful or not. Hopefully a result will come along with that, but if it doesn’t, we’ll continue to learn to grow and develop.
“We’re only at the very start of our journey and we want to try and kick on and we need to know the areas that we need to improve on to do that.”
Northern Ireland squad
Goalkeepers: Rachael Norney (Cliftonville Ladies), Shannon Turner (Wolverhampton Wanderers Women), Lilie Woods (Mid Ulster Ladies).
Defenders: Rebecca Holloway (Racing Louisville, USA), Abbie Magee (Cliftonville Ladies), Ellie Mason (Birmingham City Women), Sarah McFadden (Durham Women), Rebecca McKenna (Charlton Athletic Women), Laura Rafferty (Southampton Women), Demi Vance (Glentoran Women).
Midfielders: Joely Andrews (Glentoran Women), Megan Bell (Rangers Women), Nadene Caldwell (Glentoran Women), Marissa Callaghan (Cliftonville Ladies), Rachel Furness (Bristol City Women), Caragh Hamilton (Lewes), Chloe McCarron (Glentoran Women).
Forwards: Kerry Beattie (Glentoran Women), Simone Magill (Aston Villa Women), Caitlin McGuinness (Cliftonville Ladies), Kirsty McGuinness (Cliftonville Ladies), Lauren Wade (Reading Women), Emily Wilson (Glentoran Women).
Referee: Bulgarian Hristiyana Guteva is in charge of Ireland game in Aviva on Sat. She was ref for Sweden's 15-0 win over Georgia last year, Wexford Youth's Champions League qualifier in 2019 & Ireland u19 win over Ukraine in Markets Field in 2017 (Saoirse Noonan scored then)
2-1 home win
Republic of Ireland
Injured: Niamh Fahey, Megan Campbell, Ruesha Littlejohn, Sinead Farrelly