Football

Brilliant Article On One Of The Finest Irish Sportspeople You've Never Heard Of

Brilliant Article On One Of The Finest Irish Sportspeople You've Never Heard Of

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The Women's Football Archive have produced this fantastic article on Anne O'Brien (above, right), one of the Ireland's greatest ever female footballers.

Born in Dublin, O'Brien played for numerous clubs in France and Italy from the late 1960s up until the early 1990s.

A stylish and elegant midfielder, she won numerous Italian league titles with Lazio, Reggiana and Milan Salvarani. She later worked for the Italian football federation as a coach.

She did, however, rarely play for the Irish national side due to travel costs and the dishevelled state of the Irish women's set-up.

Extracts have been reproduced with the permission of the Women's Football Archive. Follow them here.

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The girl from Dublin who dreamed big – overcoming incredible obstacles to make her mark in international soccer. In the course of a long and successful career she won six Serie A titles, two Coppa Italia winner’s medals and etched her name into women’s football folklore.

Born in January 1956 from impeccable footballing stock, O’Brien sprang from the same dynasty as male soccer stars Johnny Giles and Jimmy Conway.1960s Dublin was marked by grinding poverty and right–wing Catholic extremism. It was a society with very firm ideas about what its young women should (and should not) be doing.

But O’Brien spent an idyllic childhood kicking a ball around with the boys, in time–honoured tradition. She blagged her way onto a women’s factory team then joined the Julian Bars women’s club.....

Her big break came in August 1973, when French giants Stade De Reims came to play the newly–minted Irish women’s national team at St James’s Park greyhound track in Kilkenny.

Reims anointed themselves as “women’s club world champions” and toured the globe, barnstorming against any opposition they could find.

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With full–time training and playing at a higher level, O’Brien’s game flourished. Her timing, intelligence and educated left foot became the fulcrum of Reims’s play.

Beautiful balance was the secret of her artistry: fluid movement combined with remarkable vision. Her flighted passes raked holes in opposition defences.

Before long her talents outgrew France and she was on the move again, this time to Lazio in Rome.

O’Brien’s childhood in Dublin gave her the street smarts to thrive against Catenaccio defenders, who, pound–for–pound were every bit as tough and cynical as their male counterparts

In her number 10 shirt, O’Brien played behind the strikers, as what the Italians call a trequartista. She moved on to Trani and formed a fearsome front three with Carolina Morace and Rose Reilly, bringing the club their first title in 1984.

She rounded out her career with three successive Scudetti, two with Reggiana and one with AC Milan, all behind the goals of Carolina Morace.

You can read the rest of this fabulous article here.

 

 

Conor Neville
Article written by
Perennial finalist in stand-up comedy competitions and former Contract Lawyer/ Coal Salesman with Corless, Corless and Sweeney

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