US title success has Megan Campbell smiling

Megan Campbell on a mission in Portugal

Megan Campbell is a woman on a mission this week as the Republic of Ireland Women’s National Team look to get their EURO 2017 campaign up and running.

Sue Ronan’s side play Portugal on Tuesday in Moreira De Cónegos and, after losing their opening group game last month at home to Finland, the squad are keen to open their account. According to Campbell they are in a determined mood.

“We will be going all guns blazing to try and knock the Portuguese off their game,” promises the 22-year-old defender from Drogheda.

“I think getting three points on the board, or at least a point on the board, is what we have come here to achieve in Portugal this Tuesday. We need points and we can’t come out of here with less than that. We need points on the board and go from there. We need to start involving ourselves in the group and letting people know that we are here and that we are here to challenge for a position to qualify.”

In front of a large and passionate crowd at Tallaght last month, the Irish girls did everything but score and Campbell admits that there has been a lot of soul searching over the past few weeks as the team tried to work out what happened.

“Obviously coming in we wanted to get off to a good start and get three points on the board playing at home in the first European qualifier in a group that we feel is really good for us and we’ll benefit from it.

“It was hard to take but I know there is a long way to go in this campaign. We have kind of moved past it right now. Obviously you look back on it, the chances we created and should have scored from and obviously the goals they scored we could have prevented There is a lot of positives to take from the game obviously but the negative is that we did lose the game. But there is a long way to go in the campaign. We are just getting started and we will be able to pick up on it on Tuesday.”

Campbell first announced herself on the international stage back in 2010 when her thundering free-kick in a European Women’s U17 semi-final handed Ireland a shock 1-0 win over Germany and she has since established herself as a key member of the senior squad since making her debut against Switzerland in August 2011. She feels the squad has developed to a point where qualification for a major tournament like EURO 2017 is a realistic goal.

“Over the last number of years we have grown as a team, we have matured. Obviously we would like to qualify automatically but to have second place up for grabs is a big incentive for us to qualify.”

Campbell is currently in her final weeks at Florida State University whom she helped to the American title last year and she is looking to repeat that feat before deciding what her footballing future will be.

“Right now my head is still towards the season and wanting to repeat the National Championship. Obviously when the season is done I will have a lot of thinking to do. My options are open to going anywhere at the moment but I will look into it when December 11 comes and I graduate it. Until then my focus is on the National Championship and winning that again.

Campbell was joined at Florida State this year by Ireland under-age international Megan Connolly and she revealed that the Cork girl has already made a huge impression stateside.

“She came over and I thought it would take her a while to settle in but, as you can see from the stats, she has adapted quite well. Five goals and ten assists in 14 games isn’t a bad way to start your career at a college, especially Florida State. She is doing really well, she is enjoying it and has settled in. She is a quality player with great talent and she has fitted into our team really well.”

The 20 strong Irish squad arrived in Portugal yesterday to begin preparations for Tuesday’s game and had their first training session this morning with another planned for this evening.

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