Moves are being made to raise the profile of women's football in Ireland, and not before time.
There have been no shortage of good news stories surrounding the Republic of Ireland Women's National Team in recent months, something that has expanded even further with the announcement that Cadbury's have come on board as official sponsor for the side.
— FAIreland ⚽️🇮🇪 (@FAIreland) October 18, 2021
This quickly follows the addition of Sky as the main sponsor, a deal that was announced last month. In the process, it became the Irish women's team first-ever standalone shirt sponsor.
Compare to this to the struggles of the men's side.
They have been without a main sponsor since last year when '3' did not renew their contract, with the FAI having failed to find a new partner during the intervening months. Perhaps their recent improvement in results could help in this regard, although there have been little indications that any sort of announcement is close.
In contrast, the good news continues to role for the women's team.
Along with these landmark sponsorship deals and the news that they will now be paid the same amount as the men's side, there is a huge amount of goodwill around this team at the moment.
Thursday night's World Cup qualifier against Sweden in Tallaght Stadium has sold out, with the FAI selling all 4,000 of the available tickets. There was a similar crowd for the recent friendly win over Australia, with RTÉ's Head of Sport Declan McBennett revealing on the LOI Central podcast that the fixture drew an impressive peak TV audience of 171,000 viewers.
All of this is without even mentioning the Women's National League securing a TV deal for the first time, with games to be broadcast on TG4 over the remainder of the season.
The scenes after that Australia game summed up this team wonderfully, signing autographs and posing for photos with young fans.
There are some top players in this side, with the captain the prime example.
Katie McCabe was on fire at club level last season, recording four goals and 11 assists in the Women's Super League for Arsenal. She has only stepped things up even further in the current campaign, with three goals and four assists in seven fixtures this season.
That includes a few absolute worldies.
This is an INCREDIBLE chip from Ireland captain Katie McCabe for Arsenal 🔥pic.twitter.com/wyXKfsaztt
— Balls.ie (@ballsdotie) October 2, 2021
Speaking ahead of the Sweden game, the 25 year-old said she was hoping to bring her club form to the international stage in the weeks ahead.
I'm absolutely confident in this squad and what we're capable of.
Obviously we worked on certain things in the last camp against Australia and got the rewards, it's about working as best we can to get a positive result.
I'm enjoying my football of course, it's been a great start to the season for Arsenal, it's been a pretty tight schedule but I'm hoping to bring that form into the next week and hopefully get results over the line.
With McCabe in the side alongside the likes of Denise O'Sullivan, Diane Caldwell, and Louise Quinn, (to name but a few), this looks like a team that is ready to take the next step.
That comes in the form of a first qualification for a major tournament. They looked on course to do that for much of the Euro 2022 campaign, only for a couple of poor results to stop them from reaching the play-offs.
Sweden will provide some formidable opposition in their World Cup campaign, with Thursday's opponents currently place in 2nd in FIFA's world rankings.
Finland, Slovakia, and Georgia will be the other teams in the group. The Finns are likely to be Ireland's biggest competitor for second position in the group, which would be enough to secure a play-off place.
Getting anything from this week's game would be a massive start, and with the crowd behind them, Vera Pauw's side will certainly make a right fist of it.
The connect this team has with the home crowd is something that we have not seen too often in Irish sport. Hopefully more success can follow as they showcase their fantastic talents to an ever increasing audience.