The Republic of Ireland Women’s National Team squad flew out to Cyprus today for the Cyprus Cup and defender Louise Quinn had an extra spring in her step after being named Senior Women’s Player of the Year at the Three FAI International Football Awards last night.
The 23-year-old, who plays for Swedish side Eskilstuna United, pipped team-mates Shannon Smyth and Julie Ann Russell to win the Award for the first time and was understandably delighted at receiving the prestigious accolade which has been won previously by the likes of Sue Hayden, Sue Ronan, Olivia O’Toole, Ciara Grant, Yvonne Tracy, Emma Byrne, Niamh Fahey and Fiona O’Sullivan.
“It’s absolutely great. I’m delighted because obviously I have worked hard throughout the year. I have played some really good football and I am really happy to get this award. Obviously, it happened because the whole team played well. I am very fortunate to get it against Julie-Ann and Shannon who are great players but it was just great to get it,” said Quinn who picked out the team’s last match of 2013, an away win against Slovenia, as her highlight of the year.
“We won 3-0 and as a team performance it was probably one of the best I have been part of and even some of the other girls who have been around a little bit longer said it was one the best they have seen. It was such high tempo, great passing and going full on for 90 minutes. That was probably our best game.”
Winning the award capped a great 2013 for Quinn who joined Eskilstuna at the beginning of the year and helped them to promotion and a league title. She is looking forward to 2014 with high hopes, particularly on the international front where Ireland currently lie second behind Germany in Group 1 of the FIFA Women’s World Cup Qualifying campaign.
They meet Germany on April 5 in Tallaght Stadium and ever since the full-time whistle blew in Slovenia on October 30 everything has been geared towards that top of the table clash.
Manager Sue Ronan brought the squad to La Manga in January for a Winter Training Camp and according to Quinn it went really well.
“We had two closed door friendly games and lost 3-0 to Holland and 1-0 to England. We don’t usually do camps in January so it was already a big plus for us to get those few extra days together. There were a lot of positive things from them and we were asked to try out new things and formations and it worked to our advantage for sure.”
Next up is the Cyprus Cup over the next ten days but even though they face four stern tests everything will be done with one eye on April and May.
“It’s all part of the preparation for the game against Germany in April and Russia in May We have got three really tough games to play and then a fourth depending on how we do. South Korea, New Zealand and Switzerland are all brilliant teams. We’ve got to see how we do against them but it is all about the preparation for Germany game and getting ourselves ready for it.”
At 33, Ireland go into the 12 nations tournament as the lowest ranked team in the FIFA World Rankings with the other 11 ranked inside the top 23 but Quinn feels this will hopefully work to their advantage.
“They might just think we are the bottom team but we know that we always put in a good performance against the big teams in that we are tough to beat and we are tough to score against. Maybe we are going in with an advantage in that there is no pressure on our shoulders and maybe a bit more on theirs if they were to lose against a lower ranked team. The result is important but it is probably more important that we put in a really solid performance all round and get the structure right for Germany.”
Ireland will play all their group games at 14:30 local time in the Tasos Marko Stadium in Paralimni and kick-off on March 5 against New Zealand before facing South Korea on March 7 and Switzerland on March 10. The final game on March 12 will be for their overall finishing position and the opposition won’t be known until the completion of the group stage on March 10.
The travelling squad shows one change from the original panel selected by manager Sue Ronan. Grace Moloney, who was one of three goalkeepers in the squad, injured her back while training with Reading yesterday afternoon and has been replaced by Castlebar Celtic midfielder Emma Hansberry.
“Eve Badana would have been the obvious choice to replace Grace but, because it was a late withdrawal and given Eve is based in America and we were flying to Cyprus today. it was easier for me, from a logistical point of view, to add another outfield player. Emma has been in great form in recent months for Castlebar Celtic and this will be a great opportunity for her,” said Ronan.
Goalkeepers: Emma Byrne (Arsenal), Niamh Reid-Burke (Raheny United). Defenders: Yvonne Tracy (Arsenal), Sophie Perry (Millwall), Meabh de Burca (Galway WFC), Louise Quinn (Eskilstuna United), Diane Caldwell (Avaldsness), Megan Campbell (Florida State University), Karen Duggan (Peamount United). Midfielders: Julie Ann Russell (Peamount United), Rachel Graham (Raheny United), Ciara Grant (Raheny United), Siobhan Killeen (Raheny United), Niamh Fahey (Arsenal), Dora Gorman (Peamount United), Aileen Gilroy (Castlebar Celtic), Shannon Smyth (Amazon Grimstad), Emma Hansberry (Castlebar Celtic). Forwards: Fiona O’Sullivan (SC Frieburg), Denise O’Sullivan (Glasgow City), Stephanie Roche (Peamount United), Ruesha Littlejohn (Glasgow City), Áine O’Gorman (Peamount United).
Ireland’s Cyprus Cup Schedule
March 5, Cyprus Cup: New Zealand v Republic of Ireland
March 7, Cyprus Cup: Republic of Ireland v South Korea
March 10, Cyprus Cup: Switzerland v Republic of Ireland
March 12, Cyprus Cup: Positional Play-off.
Check out the full Cyprus Cup 2014 fixtures.
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