EURO 2025 qualifier preview: Republic of Ireland -v- England

Ireland staring XI ahead of the friendly defeat to Wales in February 2024

Ireland staring XI ahead of the friendly defeat to Wales in February 2024 Credit: Martin Doherty (ETPhotos)


The Girls in Green will look to build upon an impressive shift clocked in Metz against the third best in the world on Friday evening when they face the defending European champions and world number two at the Aviva tonight.

Much has been made of the daunting task that Eileen Gleeson’s side face, yet Captain Katie McCabe has revealed that the girls are anything but green when it comes to their assessment of the challenge that awaits.

“We’re realistic, we know what we’re up against,” the Kilnamanagh native said. “But in terms of our belief, we always believe we can go and beat anyone on our day. We’ve got the quality. We’ve got a world class goalkeeper. We’ve shown our quality in how we can attack in terms of in previous games throughout the Nations League so it’s about finding the balance.

“Obviously as the game went on, we opened up a little bit in the second half to try and get something from the game, Megan (Campbell) coming with the long throw and changing the formation then as well. We gave it our best obviously, which we always do when we’re representing Ireland so all we can do now is take the positives from the game and look to build into England now.”

Reflecting on the positives gleaned against France, their ability to stave off the French siege when they first drew blood was at the forefront of the skipper’s mind.

“We could have let that get to us going 1-0 down so early on and collapse,” She said “But think we showed who we are as a team and stuck together, and yeah made sure we kept the spaces closed for France and nullified a lot of their strengths, which is obviously those one v ones and how they look to get in behind.”

There are 18 players in the Ireland WNT squad who play their club football in England in either the Women’s Super League or the Women’s Championship and this could play to Gleesons advantage tonight.

McCabe has partnered with Ireland's opposing captain, Leah Willamson at Arsenal for the past nine years, yet both confirmed at their respective press conferences that neither have spoken in the buildup.

The time for talking is over.


When Katie McCabe declared in the WNT pre-match press conference at Castleknock Hotel that Ireland v England was ‘just another game’ for the women in green, it was hard not to suspect a slight downplaying in significance of what is set to be the first encounter between the two sides since a European Championship qualifier back in 1987.

England shaved a narrow 1-0 win 37 years ago, yet for Sarina Wiegman’s side their near miss on progression to the Nations League finals (and the opportunity to, in turn, qualify for the Olympics in Paris) due to a goal-aggregated differential with the Netherlands, has led to a torrent of goals against opposition in anything but friendly encounters in 2024.

A 5-1 rout of the Italians at the Estadio Nuevo Mirador was preceded by a 7-2 drumming of Austria, a statement of intent from a pride of Lionesses who look to fatally wound their opponents in devastating fashion from that first step.

Yet the opening fixture of their European qualifying campaign saw the Lionesses purr to a 1-1 draw against Peter Gerhardsson’s Sweden at Wembley last Friday.

In tonight’s fixture the Lionesses will look to sink their teeth into Eileen Gleeson’s Girls in Green as they spring forward in an attempt to bank a healthy aggregate of goals in what is sure to be a closely contested group of death.

Yet skipper Leah Williamson, who returns for her first start with the Lionesses tonight since April of last year, understands that Ireland will be a difficult side to break down.

“I am expecting them to be really disciplined in the way that they defend, and I saw the 1-0 result against France,” Williamson said. “I think it’s going to be a test for us to move the ball, move them, you can see the battles. They have got key players up top but they also have a strong defensive line as well. I know all those girls really well, so it’s going to be a good one.”

Despite the 22 spot differential in both Ireland’s (24) and England's (2) FIFA Women’s World rankings, their head coach, Sarina Wiegman, is not underestimating the puzzle Gleesons women present.

“(Ireland) were promoted to this group,” she said. “We never underestimate anyone, especially Ireland. They had a 1-0 result against France, which I think was really good.

"They are a physical team, very well organised, and can play counterattack. They will try to take the opportunity moments of trying to jump out, so we’ll be aware of that. Their defence will definitely be difficult to break down.”

Referee: Lina Lehtovaara (Finland)


With over 30,000 tickets sold, tonight’s face-off between Ireland and England is set to be the biggest live occasion for women’s football on the island - the decision from our state broadcaster to prioritise its coverage over Real Madrid V Man City’s UCL Semi-Final a testament to this fact.

Ireland have not yet netted a win against the English from the seven matches played between the sides, and will look to rewrite history tonight as they welcome the Lionesses to our national stadium.


Republic of Ireland 1 - 2 England


Injured: Jess Ziu (hamstring)

Doubtful: Amber Barrett

Suspended: None