The Republic of Ireland took their shot at the FIFA World Cup with their Women’s League in July this year. While they have had a national women’s football team for decades, this is their first time making it into the World Cup. The country was pinning their hopes on the ‘girls in green’ as their men’s team hasn’t had much luck in recent years. Ireland has only qualified to compete in the World Cup three times, with the last time they competed being 21 years ago in 2002. Prior to this, the men’s league qualified in 1990 and 1994. We can’t blame them entirely for their fate though. As part of UEFA, they are up against some of the very best teams in the world, which makes even qualifying a challenge.
The country had hoped the introduction of a formidable women’s team could turn the tide on their bad luck, with many footie fans betting on Irish sports and teams advancing in the tournament. This was short-lived, as Ireland was eliminated from the World Cup by Canada in their second match. So, what lies ahead for the team? Before we look to the future, let’s dive into the history of the Irish Women’s League.
History of the Irish Women’s League
The Women’s Football Association of Ireland was established in 1973, the same year Ireland’s national team played in their first international match. It wasn’t until 1982 that the ladies team played in their first competitive match, which happened to be against Scotland. They enjoyed early success until their devastating defeat of 10-1 by Sweden in 1993. It seemed they never fully recovered from the blow, enjoying moderate success throughout the early 2000s.
It wasn’t until 2021 that they recorded their first truly remarkable win in the 2023 World Cup qualifier with an 11-0 win against Georgia. This was the start of their World Cup campaign which culminated in several impressive victories that led to them qualifying to compete for the first time in their history.
Key players and their contributions
It’s important to look at player stats when trying to predict the team’s performance and future prospects. Here are some of the team’s key players and their contributions:
McCabe is perhaps one of the league’s most exciting prospects. Not only does she captain the Irish team, but she is also contracted to Arsenal, a club for the English Women’s Super League. She made history in the Irish team’s World Cup match against Canada in July as the first female Irish footballer to ever score a goal during a World Cup match. As a striker, McCabe is required to be fast and agile, and she doesn’t disappoint. Her stats post-match revealed she clocked a distance of 2.3km during the intense match, with 774m being in full-tilt sprints. McCabe is a force to be reckoned with and we predict she will go on to solidify her position as one of the strongest female footballers in the league.
Hailing from the States, 27-year-old Brosnan is a firm favourite among football fans thanks to her current run with Everton and her coach too. As the team’s goalie, she played an important role in securing their spot in the World Cup by blocking a penalty shot from Scotland during their qualifier match. In fact, Brosnan had impressively not let an international goal pass her by for almost a year, which was the equivalent of 650 minutes of game time.
Agg was instrumental in securing the Irish team’s first World Cup play-off when she scored against Finland. She was previously attached to Brighton but is currently a free agent, so we’re excited to see which club scoops up this talented young player.
Strengths and weaknesses demonstrated at the World Cup
With a talented squad made up of new and seasoned players, where do the team’s strengths lie? And where do they fall short? Let’s take a look:
It’s a biggie but the reality is that Ireland struggles to score goals, especially against strong teams like Australia and Canada. Had they managed to pull a win out of the hat against these powerhouses, it would have truly surprised us. Despite having some strong strikers on the team, they rely too heavily on set pieces instead of mounting a stronger attack.
Players such as McCabe and Sinead Farrelly are undoubtedly where the team’s strengths lie. These ladies have only had a short stint as a team so there has potentially not been enough time to build a rapport and work cohesively together.
The road ahead: Upcoming tournaments and events
While the focus is always on big events like the World Cup, it is not the be-all and end-all. There is a bright future ahead for the team. They have several UEFA Women’s Nations League matches scheduled from September through December, so you can catch them going up against Hungary, Albania and Northern Ireland in the coming months.
Having only been formally announced in June, there is a lot of room for improving on strategy and team dynamics going forward. By focusing on improving their attacking prowess and mounting a stronger defence, the team has a good chance of making it further in the World Cup next time around.