‘There’s No Escaping The Elephant In The Room’- Gleeson Looks To Open New Chapter For The Irish WNT

‘There’s No Escaping The Elephant In The Room’- Gleeson Looks To Open New Chapter For The Irish WNT ‘There’s No Escaping The Elephant In The Room’- Gleeson Looks To Open New Chapter For The Irish WNT
Alanna Cunnane

Interim Irish WNT manager Eileen Gleeson has addressed the “ elephant in the room ” that former boss Vera Pauw has left behind, commenting today on the players returning to the squad, the general public sentiment towards the team and their upcoming match versus Northern Ireland at the Aviva stadium.

As the current Head of Women and Girls' Football she was keen to point out the “continuity” she brings to the temporary role, having worked with some of the players during her time as assistant to Pauw, as well as at Peamount United, UCD Waves and Glasgow City. 

That experience couldn't be more vital at this moment, given the scrutiny around the team since it was announced that Pauw wouldn’t be reinstated as manager.


“Yeah I mean there’s no escaping what’s gone on or the noise that’s around the camp so we had a brief discussion on [what happened around Vera Pauw], but the focus is on the performance in this Nations League campaign and the immediate focus is what’s on Saturday” says Gleeson, speaking at a media event today.


"Players are going to express themselves all the time. We've all worked with players so we know players have opinions, and rightly so. It's their game, it's their performances, it's how they feel. They want to move forward.

"A player having an opinion is not a new thing. We're hearing plenty of opinions now, so a player having one is not at odds with human nature…they're entitled to that, but we're not focusing on anything around that. We're just focusing on moving forward."

Addressing the back and forth between the FAI and Pauw, Gleeson dispelled any notion that it will have a negative effect on the next potential manager’s opinion on the position, emphasising instead that “this is a really privileged role to come in to” especially because “women’s and girls football in Ireland is really growing at an exponential rate.”

“The team has huge potential, that the federation are offering all support, I think it's quite an attractive role” she says.

“There are a great group of girls there. People have opinions; players, public, coaches. This is what it is. I would have no doubt there would be a lot of applicants for the role.”

Whether Gleeson herself is one of the prospective candidates for the permanent position remains to be seen, although she does stress that her current role as the Head of Women and Girls' Football at the FAI is “is the dream job.”

“I’m here in the interim and i’m very happy to be here in the interim and working with the girls and working with the team and driving the game forward” she says. 

“In the broader picture, increasing participation, opportunities for girls to play and beyond that, opportunities for women to be across the whole football ecosystem in different roles, to be in decision making roles, to be in leadership roles, that’s what I want. 

“I want to see all the women right, more women, that’s what we want. We want them in leadership roles, that’s what we want. 

“As time goes on and you know we develop that role and we develop what the aims are, we’ll see what that looks like.” 

She also explained how the 25-player squad picked for this Nations League window was selected by herself and her new interim coaching ticket, which now contains former Irish internationals Colin Healy and Emma Byrne.

Dissecting through the entire Irish talent pool, she puts the comeback of players such as Emily Whelan, Saoirse Noonan, Hayley Nolan, Eabha O’Mahony and in particular Tyler Tolund, down to a number of factors, but that all were “purely football decision[s].”

“Obviously injuries impact the decisions that you can make but what we’ve done is went through the whole Irish talent pool and you deal with what squad you can pick from and that’s what we’ve done in terms of the greater plan and qualifying in time for the 2025 Euros” she says.

“Now is the time where we’ve to start looking at younger players and looking at that experience and giving them that experience as well instead of a retrospective plan when we get to 2025.

Tyler has been a young player in our talent pool for many years, right through our youth system. She's gone off and played in a couple of professional clubs...She hasn't had the game time that she would have wanted or consistent game time. Now she's at a club where she's playing in the championship, playing at a decent level, she's playing 90 minutes week in week out. 

“For us it's a football decision. For us it's exhausting the talent pool. It's transitioning young players through, and Tyler is now playing consistently which gives us a greater insight into her performance and potential.”

Eileen Gleeson on leaving behind the elephant in the room for Ireland vs Northern Ireland

Involved in women’s football for over 30 years, Gleeson is very much looking forward to the Republic of Ireland’s first match at the Aviva Stadium on Saturday, taking on Northern Ireland at one o’clock in the Nations League.

With the crowd expected to surpass 30,000 people, thus obliterating the current attendance record of just over 7,000 fans at Tallaght Stadium, it’s set to be a cosmic event in women’s football history in Ireland. 

"What does it mean for me? I mean, who doesn't want to represent their country?.. I love Irish football and at the core, I'm Irish. That passion, that pride” she says.

“We all felt it when the World Cup was on. We all had the goosebumps when Amhran na bhFiann played at a packed out stadium in Sydney and a packed out stadium in Perth. We'll have that same feeling on Saturday. 

“The feeling those players gave to everybody throughout the World Cup, in the build up to it, the historic World Cup qualification, the historic performances during it and the support from people, that's what we'll have again on Saturday in the Aviva and that's what I'll be super proud of.”

Placing great value on increasing visibility and participation in the women’s game, whether that’s in an interim manager capacity or in a more “overarching”, long term role, there will be no greater advertisement for Gleeson’s work than the historic occasion that will unfold on Saturday.

Sign Up to our newsletter

Processing your request...

You are subscribed now!

Follow us for more