Who is Eileen Gleeson? A DEEP DIVE INTO IRELAND’S NEW interim MANAGER

Who is Eileen Gleeson? A DEEP DIVE INTO IRELAND’S NEW interim MANAGER Who is Eileen Gleeson? A DEEP DIVE INTO IRELAND’S NEW interim MANAGER
Alanna Cunnane

In the wake of the non renewal of Vera Pauw’s contract a familiar face with an anticipated fresh take will be stepping into the role of Irish WNT head coach, throwing up the question; who is Eileen Gleeson?

At the end of August it was announced the current FAI Head of Women and Girls' Football would step into the position on an interim basis, with her first match set to be a monumental one- the Republic of Ireland versus Northern Ireland at the Aviva Stadium, Saturday September 23rd.

From Pauw’s former number two to the woman in charge of the future direction of women’s football in Ireland, here’s everything you need to know about her background.


Eileen Gleeson’s Managerial History

During her playing days Eileen Gleeson represented Blacklions in the Civil Service League, as well as both Ballymun United and Hammond Celtic in the Dublin Women’s Soccer League, but it was really as a manager she came into her own in the footballing sphere.

Transitioning into a coaching role with Ballymun United through a FÁS training course and a soccer coach programme at the turn of the millennium, then moving on to a St James’s Gate team before taking the top job at Peamount United in 2006.


Come the inception of the league which is now known as the Women’s Premier Divison back in 2011, she had firmly cemented the side as one of the best women’s football squads in the country, going on to win the newly formed WNL trophy in the inaugural season and competing in the Champions League in 2011/12 and 2012/13.

In fact, it was Eileen Gleeson who uploaded the now infamous Stephanie Roche FIFA Puskás nominated goal, which went viral and saw the Ireland striker sat amongst the likes of Lional Messi and Christiano Ronaldo at the award ceremony.

Later Gleeson moved on to UCD Waves (now DLR Waves) in 2014, taking the assistant manager position under Pauw in 2019, and undertaking that role for two years.

She left there for a brief stint in charge of Glasgow City, prior to accepting the mantle as Head of Women and Girls' Football at the FAI.

Eileen Gleeson’s role as Head of Women and Girls' Football

With her extensive football managerial experience as well as her Uefa Pro licence, masters in Coaching & Exercise Science, PHD on analysing expert decision-making in elite soccer and prolonged term as a Sports Officer with Dublin City Council, Gleeson’s CV spoke volumes when it came to selecting the first Head of Women and Girls' Football within the FAI.

She was appointed to the role in January of 2023, tasked with aiding the FAI’s director of football Marc Canham in developing long term developmental plans and strategies to tie in with the long term vision for women’s football within Ireland.

Her responsibilities also include helping to increase participation and decrease the drop out rate within the sport at all levels, and also seemingly stepping into the role of Irish WNT manager on an interim basis while they find a permanent replacement.

When she first started in the job Eileen Gleeson told the FAI- “I’m delighted to join the FAI on a full-time basis as the Head of Women and Girls’ Football in what is a really exciting time for women and girls’ football, from Grassroots all the way up to international level.”

“Having been involved in football all of my life, I believe this role gives me a great opportunity to have a positive impact in ensuring that all women and girls feel that they can enjoy football, no matter what level it may be” she added.   

“I’m looking forward to working with my new colleagues in the FAI and everyone connected with women and girls’ football around the country to help add to and support the excellent work that is already being done within communities, clubs and leagues.”  

Who’s alongside her in the interim backroom team?


With the squads announced and the kick off date closing in, things are heating up towards Gleeson’s face off with Northern Ireland’s Tanya Oxtoby for her first game in charge. 

Adding fuel to the fire is that of the announcement of her backroom team that will join her on the sideline for the event, with some big names and former Irish stars among them.

Legendary former players Emma Byrne and Colin Healy will both be the assistant managers, while Richie Fitzgibbon takes up the position as the interim goalkeeping coach.


Is Eileen Gleeson In Contention To Be The Next Permanent Manager?

Since Pauw’s departure, reports have varied as to whether Eileen Gleeson could be called upon to take on the Irish WNT manager role in a permanent capacity, although that appears to have somewhat been stamped out by Canham in recent days.

There is a possibility for that to happen but that’s not our intention” he said, speaking at an FAI press conference last week.

With the names such as Pauw’s assistant coach Tom Elmes, Liverpool manager Matt Beard, former Ireland manager Colin Bell, ex Manchester United boss Casey Stoney and NWSL stalwart Laura Harvey all banded around in the same conversation as Gleeson, it will be interesting to see who eventually materialises into the position.

Whoever it’s going to be however, they’ll have to align with the long term vision for women’s football within Ireland, an area Gleeson, through her work, know’s an awful lot about.

“In terms of moving forward and a new head coach, there are some key things that are really important to us” Canham said, delving into the criteria he will be looking at during the press conference last Thursday.

“They should be a collaborative and inclusive leader, they understand the culture and try to develop a high-performing culture within the environment that has positive and collaborative behaviours” he said.

“It's imperative that they understand the Irish culture and all of the uniqueness in Ireland, and to use that as a competitive advantage for us moving forward. They need to be a modern practitioner, both in terms of performance areas (sports science, strength and conditioning, psychology, nutrition), but also from a coaching perspective, to be able to tactically and technically adapt, be able to set teams up to play different opposition, which you would expect.”

“All of those things are important, they have been important to us in the past and will be in the future” he concluded.

If the person to carry out that ethos is to be Eileen Gleeson or someone else yet remains to be seen, but her first task of overseeing Ireland in their Nations League window in the coming weeks will surely go a long way in the decision making process.

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