Katie McCabe: ‘It's not just 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’
Macdara Ferris reports from the Aviva Stadium
The journey for this World Cup qualifiying Ireland squad has been rightly traced from Liberty Hall in 2017 when the players took on the FAI.
However, both Ireland skipper Katie McCabe and interim manager Eileen Gleeson were keen ahead of their UEFA Nations League game on Lansdowne Road to note all those who have been critical to helping them reach this pivotal point – playing in front of 38,000 fans at their first international at the Aviva Stadium
“It's not just obviously about the squad tomorrow walking out, it's about everybody who's played their part over the course of the last few years,” said McCabe speaking in the Aviva Stadium on Friday.
“It’s the volunteers at your local clubs, it’s the grassroots coaches that come out, it’s the referees when you’re 10 years old. It’s Mams and Dads driving their kids an hour to go train two or three times a week. It's not just about us.
"It’s about every single person that’s played their part in women’s football the last 20, 30 years. It’s you guys, it’s media, it’s yous talking about it, writing about it. It’s about all of that together.
“We're just the lucky ones that will be able to play on the pitch and really embrace it. That's what is so important for us as players to remember. We hold that incredibly proud and we’ll be giving it an absolute battle and our 100% as always when we put on the green shirt.”
Gleeson noted that this match “is a thank you to everybody that did everything in the past when nobody wanted to know anything. But there were people that wanted to continue to push women’s football.
“I think people have stood up and responded - the FAI, the media, and it’s all come together at this moment and it’s going to be in action here in the Aviva Stadium and that will be the representation of the progress that we’ve made. As Katie said, we’re going to bring our passion and our pride and really play our hearts out.”
The interim Ireland boss spoke about the progress for women’s football in Ireland. “There’s been a number of milestones. We had the introduction of the Women’s National League, we’ve seen that expand down through the youth levels. We’ve seen this year the introduction of professional contracts into the league.
“We’ve seen clubs add resources. We’ve seen criteria for coaches to be better around the women’s game. Does it still need work? Absolutely, but it’s moving in the right direction. I think as the development of the game is going to happen, you’ll see a lot more around that which we’ll continue to drive.”