Katie McCabe: ‘I'm very happy with where we are at. The bigger picture is the Euros and we are striving to get there.’
Macdara Ferris reports from the National Football Stadium in Windsor Park
Having skippered her side this year to a World Cup and a faultless UEFA Nations League promotion to League A, Republic of Ireland captain Katie McCabe will end 2023 with three big London derbies for her club side Arsenal.
However, very much on the horizon for the Kilnamanagh woman is getting Ireland back to a major tournament with next year's focus being on the EURO 2025 qualifiers.
Speaking after the Girls in Green’s 6-1 thrashing of Northern Ireland in Belfast, McCabe talked about the ambitions for this side and how they are looking to develop their style of play.
“At the start of the campaign our objective was to top the group which we did,” said McCabe of Ireland who won all six of the UEFA Nations League matches – one of only two sides across all four leagues to do so (along with Turkey in League C Group 2).
“We want to keep developing. We want to score goals. We don't want to be just defending.
"It is really exciting to see the youngters coming on like Larko (Abby Larkin) and Jess (Stapleton). I'm very happy with where we are at. The bigger picture is the Euros and we are striving to get there.
“It has been a fantastic year. I'm really enjoying my football at the minute. I've very proud to lead these girls out each time and we have a fantastic group of players around me with Ireland and back in London with Arsenal.
“I'm playing as best I can, giving it 100%. I’ve got Chelsea on Sunday (in the WSL). I've three big games with the club before the end of year (including matches against Spurs home and away in the League Cup and league).”
McCabe and the Ireland squad took a touch of motivation from some criticism surrounding their lukewarm display against Hungary last Friday when they won 1-0 in Tallaght Stadium.
“There were questions of us lacking motivation a little bit post the Hungary game. We topped the group and couldn't believe it when I saw that.
“This team anytime we have put on a green jersey, we want to play to our capabilities. You could say we didn't play our best on Friday night but we looked to rectify that. We are a team who are learning a new style of play. I was really proud of how we implemented it tonight.
“We played some really nice football tonight. I think all the goals were really good. It was really good performance by the team.
“We stepped it up with the intensity (after half time). We hurt them and scored those goals (four in second half). The girls up top were on fire. Midfield was really good picking up second balls.
“We had a different approach tonight. For us, we were better in our decision making in the buildup from the back three and into the two sixes. We were really patient and waited for the spaces to open up. We found the right moment to penetrate.”