Sue Ronan names Republic of Ireland squad for Winter Training Camp
Republic of Ireland Women’s National Team manager Sue Ronan has named a 21 strong squad for the Winter Training Camp in La Manga which will feature a match against Norway on Thursday, January 15.
The squad includes five uncapped players including two members of the U19 team which reached the semi-finals of last year’s UEFA European U19 Championship – Raheny United defender Lauren Dwyer and forward Katie McCabe. They are joined by Wexford Youths Women’s AFC striker Rhianna Jarrett, who has just returned playing college football from America, and her club colleague Carol Breen who was named Continental Tyres Women’s National League Player of the Month for October. The fifth newcomer is 28-year-old English-based midfielder Emma Beckett who is currently unattached after spells at Watford, Fulham, Millwall, Charlton Athletic and Northampton.
Fourteen of the squad were on duty in Ireland’s last international away to Germany in September and they are joined by Diane Caldwell and Siobhan Killeen who missed that game with concussion.
“We have a good foundation of experience in the squad now with 11 of the players having 20 caps or more but we’ve also only one player over 30 so we have a lot of potential and I think we showed that in the last qualifiers where we recorded our biggest ever points total for a World Cup campaign,” said Ronan.
“We’ll be missing some players through injury and work commitments but that has opened the doors for others and it’s up to them now to show that they have what it takes to compete at senior international level.
“The draw for the European qualifiers doesn’t take place until April 13 but we are going to be busy between now and then. After La Manga we head to Croatia in March to take part in the Istria Cup and we’ll hopefully have some more games before the Euro 2017 qualifiers kick-off in September,” said Ronan.
Ronan was joined at today’s press conference in the Aviva Stadium by FIFA Puskás Award nominee Stephanie Roche and UCD Waves captain Áine O’Gorman. Roche will miss the first day of the La Manga Camp in order to attend the Ballon d’Or ceremony in Zurich but will link up with the squad the following day.
“It’s fantastic for Stephanie and for women’s football. The goal is in the top three on merit and it’s been extremely heartening to see all the compliments her skills have earned from some of the biggest names in the game. Nobody involved in Irish women’s football was surprised by her goal because she does that all the time but it is fantastic that it has been recognised on the world stage. I hope people will take the time to vote for her because it would be a tremendous moment for women’s football if she were to win the Puskás Award,” said Ronan
With only eight places available to Europe at this summer’s World Cup Finals it was always going to be a tall ask for Ireland to qualify for Canada but, with UEFA extending the European Championship finals to 16 teams in 2017, there is a sense of opportunity knocking for the Irish.
UEFA are set to announce that the qualifying tournament will consist of eight groups of five teams with the group winners automatically qualifying along with the six best runners-up. The other two runners-up will then play-off for a place with the final spot going to the Netherlands as the host country.
The draw on April 13 in Nyon will be crucial as Ireland are almost certain to be third seeds and will need to avoid the strong teams that will be among the second seeds in order to have a realistic chance of having a right crack at qualification.
“If we get the right draw, I believe we will have a good chance. We have been monitoring the potential seedings for the past year and while there are some teams who will be second seeds that we would want to avoid there are others we feel would have a chance of taking points off.
Ronan has overseen an impressive rise in Ireland’s stock over the course of the last two years. Since January 1, 2013, the side has played 19 games between qualifiers, tournaments and friendlies and has only lost five, all to sides ranked inside the World’s Top 20. Three of those defeats were by one goal and margin was two in the other two games.
Their performances against Germany in the last campaign were particularly impressive, both home and away. Germany went through the group with 10 wins from 10 games, scoring 63 goals in the process, to finish the year as World No.1 but it was the Irish who gave them their toughest test, losing 3-2 at home and 2-0 away.
The side have now risen to 29th in the World Rankings and 18th in Europe.
“It hasn’t happened overnight. There has been a lot of hard work by a lot of people but there is no doubt that the creation of the Women’s National League in 2011 has been a major influence as it allowed the players based in Ireland to raise their standard and has made the jump to senior international football less daunting for them,” said Ronan.
A video interview with Sue Ronan from today’s press conference can be viewed below:
Republic of Ireland Women’s National Team Squad for La Manga
Emma Byrne (Arsenal),
Niamh Reid-Burke (Raheny United).
Aine O’Gorman (UCD Waves),
Louise Quinn (Elskilstuna United)
Niamh Fahey (Chelsea),
Megan Campbell (Florida State University),
Sophie Perry (Brighton & Hove Albion),
Lauren Dwyer (Raheny United).
Ciara Grant (UCD Waves),
Rachel Graham (Raheny United),
Carol Breen (Wexford Youths Women’s AFC),
Diane Caldwell (Avaldsnes),
Denise O’Sullivan (Glasgow City),
Emma Beckett (Unattached),
Julie Ann Russell (UCD Waves),
Siobhan Killeen (Raheny United),
Katie McCabe (Raheny United),
Rianna Jarrett (Wexford Youths Women’s AFC),
Fiona O’Sullivan (Notts County),
Ruesha Littlejohn (Unattached),
Stephanie Roche (ASPTT Albi)
Don’t forget there is still time to vote for Republic of Ireland’s Stephanie Roche in the FIFA Puskas Award, please get your votes in before 12 January.
The WSU Team bringing you news and updates from the world of women’s football.