Eileen Gleeson: ‘I've been involved in Irish football for so long and I couldn't be any prouder.’
Macdara Ferris reports from the National Football Stadium at Windsor Park
The Eileen Gleeson managerial era with the Republic of Ireland has come to an end – for now anyway. The interim Ireland boss began and ended her tenure in charge of the Girls in Green with comprehensive wins over Northern Ireland.
From the 3-0 home win in the Aviva in September to Tuesday’s night’s 6-1 thumping in Windsor Park, her side won all six of their UEFA Nations League games and left Gleeson feeling very proud of her work with Ireland and the players who performed particlulaly well in the ‘derby’ games against Northern Ireland.
“Overall I'm super proud of six wins from six and getting promotion to League A - it couldn't have gone any better,” said Gleeson when speaking with extratime.com in Windsor Park after the comprehensive 6- 1 win for her team.
“It is magic. I've been involved in Irish football for so long and I couldn't be any prouder.”
She will now return to her role as the FAI’s Head of Women’s and Girl’s Football with her CV certainly enhanced with taking her team out of League B of the Nations League. Her team were ruthless in the match, not sitting back on their 2-0 half-time lead.
“The performance was solid and the work rate was excellent, we didn't stop till the final whistle. We spoke about maintaining the intensity, pressing high and Denise O'Sullivan, Katie McCabe, everybody - we never stopped. Ruesha Littlejohn was really strong on the press,
“We knew that the first part of the game, it would be their best part,” said Gleeson about Northern Ireland who needed a victory to have a chance of a promotion play-off.
“They had to go for a win so we had to be patient. They doubled up on Katie (McCabe) and Denise (O’Sullivan) and we had to find our spaces.”
Some comments ahead of the game had irked Gleeson and provided some incentive for her players.
“We had a few more distractions last week with comments about lack of motivation. The girls showed who we are. They have a lot of character and a high work rate. We spoke about it. We showed that on the pitch. We were never going to take our foot off the pedal tonight.
“We were asked sideways questions about whether we'd even be trying to win from a number of people and we were like 'what is this'? Of course we want to win, we wanted to win six from six. I couldn't have asked more from the girls tonight.”
Ireland had a half-time lead thanks to a two goals late in the first half from first Lucy Quinn and then Heather Payne. “At half time they was no talk of taking the foot off. We spoke about getting an early goal and going again.”
They did just that scoring two more inside five minutes of the re-start from Kyra Carusa and skipper Katie McCabe.
The last two goals came from corners delivered by Megan Connolly – providing the centres from corners for Louise Quinn and Celtic’s Caitlin Hayes to get the Girls in Green’s fifth and sixth goals on the night – the 19th and 20th goals from their six game UEFA Nations League campaign.
“Megan is a good set piece specialist. She did really well on what was her 50th cap. She had a great deliveries.”