The Irish Women's National Team are three days away from taking on Norway in one of three critical World Cup Qualifying matches. This is huge for Irish soccer. The girls in green are currently sitting second in Group 3 and qualifying for a first World Cup is very much a possibility. These talented players are our national team, so why have we heard so little about this massive clash?
It is no secret that men's football, rugby and GAA (to name just a few) are more popular than their female counterparts. That said, steps have been taken to level the playing field. With more sponsorship, media attention and initiatives women's sport is on the up. Companies such as Lidl and Liberty Insurance have done great research into women's sport and subsequently taken measures to increase participation and promote our female athletes. To our disappointment, we have heard and seen little or nothing on the Irish Women's pivotal football match. We are appealing to all the media channels that would typically cover sport or football, to stand up for the girls in green - let your audiences know we could be on the brink of Irish history.
The Irish Women's National Team success represents a major uplift in Irish women’s football. Despite a 2-0 defeat to The Netherlands, the European champions, qualification for the 2019 World Cup in France is definitely possible. With top spot guaranteeing automatic qualification, Ireland at the very least will be looking to finish as one of the runners up, who will progress to the play-offs, giving another chance to qualify.
Women's football is rapidly growing both nationally and globally. In April, both qualifiers featuring the Irish team broke the record attendance for a competitive women’s international in this country. A total crowd of 4,047 were present in Tallaght Stadium to watch Ireland take on The Netherlands. The SSE Women's FA Cup final (Chelsea vs. Arsenal) in Wembley Stadium, which featured two Irish internationals, Louise Quinn and Katie McCabe, saw a record crowd of 45,423. It's also worth noting that 750 million television viewers watched the last FIFA Women’s World Cup in Canada - imagine seeing the team competing on this stage.
With all that said, our Women's National Team are three games away from qualifying for The World Cup. Think Robbie Keane vs Germany, Jason McAteer vs The Netherlands or Robbie Brady vs Italy. We are football mad in this country and all fans remember where they were when those balls hit the back of the net. For that alone, we have to get behind the girls in green and create new memories which we will remember just as fondly. Once these women put on that green jersey, they aren't just women playing football but simply footballers - footballers we should be proud of.
The next step towards qualification starts this Friday, 8th June at 17:30. The timing of the kick-off has brought on criticism. It will be difficult for some fans to make it coming from work - make sure to hang your Irish flag out the window if you're stuck on the m50 at rush hour. We urge everyone who can, to make their way down to Tallaght Stadium and support the team. EirSport covered the previous qualifier and hopefully they do the same for this match. Norway may be slight favourites but with talented individuals like Diane Caldwell, Denise O’Sullivan, Louise Quinn, Rianna Jarrett and of course Katie McCabe we're in for a shout! When that whistle blows, anything can happen - COYGIG!