Louise Quinn Says Ireland Have Shed 'Spursy' Tag As They Aim For World Cup History

By Gary Connaughton

Gary Connaughton reporting from Senec, Slovakia

Ireland made history on Thursday night, with then 1-0 win over Finland at Tallaght Stadium ensuring that they would take part in the play-off for the World Cup for the first time in the nation's history. It was an incredible achievement, one that they will be hoping to take full advantage of next month when the fixtures take place.

Of course, some players have had to wait longer for this opportunity than others. Where as the likes of Lily Agg are just now making their first forays into international football, others members of the squad have experienced plenty of ups and downs over the course of a long career in the green jersey.

Louise Quinn made her international debut in 2008, being named in the squad later that year for the only other play-off Ireland have featured in up to this point. However, she did not feature in the tie against Iceland as Noel King's side fell just short of qualification for the Euros.

Since then, she has established herself as one of the most prominent players in the squad. She has been part of some big nights and also some tougher times, including the threatened strike action in 2017 in a bid for better playing conditions for the women's national team.

All of that is well behind her now, with Quinn playing a starring role in the win over the Finns in front of a record crowd last week. Speaking to the media ahead of the game this evening, she said it was an incredible occasion to be part of.

It was just incredible to see. It’s what we’ve been waiting for. You got the chills coming and turning your head to see every corner.

Even the difference between walking out on the pitch and the game starting, it was nearly full. They did the job for us that we needed them to do, especially in the second-half and you could feel that off them.

It’s great to be in the position of filling stadia and getting consistent backing from our fans.

5 September 2022; Manager Vera Pauw and Louise Quinn during a Republic of Ireland Women press conference at National Training Centre in Senec, Slovakia. Photo by Stephen McCarthy/Sportsfile

The game against Slovakia is likely to be a different occasion.

Not only will it be played in front of a far smaller crowd in the small village of Senec on the outskirts of Bratislava, but Ireland will also go into the the fixture knowing that their play-off fate is already sealed.

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That isn't to say that there will be nothing to play for. Not only are potential seedings for the play-offs on the line, but the players involved will also want to ensure their names will be on the team sheet when it comes to that period next month.

For us, there's plenty to play for. Also in the team, there's plenty to play for in terms of making sure you're in the next starting XI for a potential play-off, wherever that may be, for Vera to see us and the coaches to see us in the best of our light.

We're constantly competing, we constantly want to send messages to other teams about the strength and depth of our team. For us, we're thrilled to get a play-off, but now we have another chance to make it even better, make it even a better play-off spot, get that extra bonus for the hard work that we've done and to keep pushing through in this group like we always have.

Ireland will certainly be hoping for a better start to the game than they managed against Finland.

The visitors completely dominated the opening exchanges on that occasion and should have found themselves in front early on. Were it not for the efforts of Quinn and her defensive partners, the game may have already been out of reach by the time Lily Agg found the back of the net on the hour mark.

It made for stressful viewing for those in the stands and watching at home, although Quinn said the players themselves remained calm throughout. However, she did reveal that her mother struggled to keep her composure towards the end of the game.

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It’s not too stressful. I’d say it’s definitely more stressful for you and for those in the stands.

My mam wasn’t able to watch the last 15 minutes. She had a stressed head. She had to go for a walk. But it’s not as stressful, it’s what we’ve trained and learned to do. But maybe that was us a few years ago where we did let the stress get to us...

I just think we have that experience. Things are not going to always go right for us. Of course we want to play the best game of our lives in every international game, but it can be difficult to do that. It’s then about earning the right to play and to keep yourself in the game, and that’s exactly what we did.

Obviously this is me being the defender, the first thing I said when we came in was, we did great, we kept a clean sheet in the first-half. Even though we weren’t at our best, it wasn’t how we wanted to go in after that first-half, but I was like, ‘It’s zero-zero right now, they’ve had chances to score and we have done so well to keep them out and to figure it out.

1 September 2022; Louise Quinn celebrates after the FIFA Women's World Cup 2023 qualifier match between Republic of Ireland and Finland at Tallaght Stadium in Dublin. Photo by Stephen McCarthy/Sportsfile

Ireland have certainly learned lessons from the previous campaign, when they failed to capitalise on their strong position in the Euro qualifying group by playing out a disappointing draw against Ukraine and ultimately missing out on the tournament.

It was a group of players that had been accused of being 'too nice' in the past, with Quinn comparing it to an old adage about Tottenham Hotspur's soft underbelly that has been doing the rounds for a number of years.

That comes up, doesn’t it, like it’s very Spursy. That’s what it sounds like but we’re not very Spursy.

That’s what Antonio Conte is in for, to bring that.

The team will want to secure a kinder route in the play-offs, with a win against Slovakia ensure that Ireland will receive a bye in the first round of the process. That was made possible thanks to some favourable results in other fixtures over the weekend, including in England's victory over Austria on Saturday.

Louise Quinn knows some members of that Euros winning squad quite well, including former Arsenal teammate Beth Mead. She revealed she had been in contact with the England forward in the buildup to that game.

I spoke to Beth, yeah. I was like ‘for once, will yous do us a favour?’

She text me back and was like ‘no problem’. It was just the same stuff, contact with her just to see how their experience was. It seems so strange that they’re back in camp already after playing their final.

It was just general chitchat at first, then we started realising that they could help. There was a few jokes back and forth, but it was nice of them to do so. I think she has her own cans of beer, so we will cheers with one of those.

The Ireland squad will certainly be delighted with favour granted to them by England and others in recent days, although that will count for little if they can't get the job done against Slovakia.

Judging by the noises coming out of the camp, they certainly won't be lacking in motivation.

SEE ALSO: Vera Pauw Wary Of Challenge Of Getting Players' Feet On The Ground For Slovakia Showdown


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