Ireland is dreaming of qualification for a first World Cup in women's football, and they need your support for the two huge qualifiers coming up against Slovakia on the 6th of April and Holland on the 10th of April, which will have a massive bearing on whether we qualify for France in 2019.
Ireland have made a blistering start to World Cup qualifying, but with two massive home matches coming up - including a visit from the reigning European champions - the stakes are very high indeed.
Here’s why you really need to catch this Ireland team play at Tallaght Stadium in the coming weeks.
Things Are Shaping Up Nicely
When Ireland were drawn in Group 3 of UEFA qualifying for the World Cup, the challenge looked daunting for Colin Bell and his players. Holland are the European champions, Norway are perennially one of the top sides in Europe and any games with Northern Ireland have an added spice given the proximity of the two teams. A quick look at the table shows how well-positioned Ireland is after three fixtures, all of which were played away from home.
While home and away matches against Norway may ultimately prove vital for Ireland's qualification chances, a resounding win against Slovakia and any result against the Dutch will keep the positivity bubbling into the vital matches this summer.
The European Champs Are Coming To Dublin
The last time we saw the Girls In Green in World Cup qualifying, they'd secured a brilliant and bruising draw against the European champions Holland in Nijmegen. It was an inspiring defensive performance from Ireland, who nullified the star-studded Dutch attack in front of a packed partisan stadium. Fittingly, there was bedlam in the Irish changing room afterwards.
The Dutch team will arrive in Dublin seeking revenge, so turning Tallaght Stadium into a fortress will give the Girls in Green a massive boost.
Best of all, if we could secure a famous victory, we can legitimately dream of automatic qualification.
The Team Is Full Of Stars And Future Legends
Ireland's performances in World Cup qualifying are no fluke. This Ireland team is young, hungry and supremely talented. Several members of the squad have plied their trade in the top leagues of Europe and in the UEFA Women’s Champions League.
Louise Quinn for instance, is a defensive player with a knack for scoring goals and was one of the best defenders in Sweden before earning a move to traditional powerhouse Arsenal. She’s already scored four goals in her first thirteen games for the Gunners, and has eight to her name for Ireland. Elsewhere, Niamh Fahey lines out for French side Bordeaux and has previously played for Chelsea, Megan Campbell - currently nursing a cruciate injury - is at English champions Manchester City, who have built one of the strongest women’s teams in Europe, while Denise O’Sullivan plays for the North Carolina Courage in America’s NWSL. And then there's viral star Megan Connolly of Florida State University.
The squad has a good mix of experienced and fresh faces however, including 16-year-old Tyler Toland. The Donegal youngster made her debut as a substitute against Northern Ireland last year before starting in an impressive away win over Slovakia. Ireland’s youngest ever full international is leading the way for the next generation of Irish stars.
The Team Is On A Roll
Ireland are undefeated three games into this campaign, despite each of those matches being away from home, making it all the more remarkable. This run includes two 2-0 victories over Northern Ireland and Slovakia, the latter of which was particularly impressive as Ireland had far less of the ball away from home, but used it more wisely than their opponent.
The most notable result so far however, and the one that gives Colin Bell’s side the belief that they can take a real shot at qualification, was the 0-0 draw with Netherlands, which we mentioned above.
Along the way this Irish team has also put Portugal to the sword with a 3-1 friendly win in the Azores. Momentum is with them, something they will be hoping to continue in these two crucial qualifiers. They’ve done the business so far, but the players need you, the fans, to help push them over the line and make history.
Women’s Football Is Growing At An Incredible Pace
The 2015 World Cup in Canada and 2016 Rio Olympics showcased the world’s finest talent in two wonderful festivals of football. The Euros in Netherlands last summer enjoyed widespread mainstream coverage and exceptional ratings. The United States WNT even bring in greater gate receipts than the men’s team.
Women’s football is flying at the moment and continues to grow its audiences and popularity with increased TV and media coverage around the world. With the ever-growing talent and traditional football following we possess in this country the trajectory is only going one way – up !
Live Elite Football At A Great Price
One of the great joys in life is being able to watch football matches in person. As sports fans, some of our best memories are of going to live events with friends and family. Even better when tickets to such events are extremely good value -- it will only cost you €5 through the turnstile at Tallaght Stadium for each game, while under 18s go free on the night..
The cost of football seems to be increasing all the time and ticket prices, especially to see the biggest teams and leagues in world football, can often exclude many fans from seeing their favourite teams. Thankfully that’s not the case for our women’s national team, who will line out on the pitch this week to roars of "Come On You Girls In Green". Get your tickets here.