DUBLIN, Ireland. – The Irish are coming to Portland and they are bringing a strong roster for the unique exhibition game on November 28 against the USWNT as part of the USA Women’s Fans Tribute Tour.
While the large support expected to turn up at JELD-WEN Field will primarily be there to see the recently-crowned Olympic Gold champions, the Rose City’s Irish contingent may also be represented to see their Republic of Ireland Senior Women’s team in action.
Head coach Sue Ronan has selected an 18-player roster for two friendly games against the USA – one in Portland, the other in Glendale, Arizona on December 1 – and included are some top-quality personnel.
Arsenal trio Emma Byrne (above), Yvonne Tracy and Niamh Fahey have won all of the major honors at club level in Europe with Arsenal and this week progressed through to the semi-finals of the UEFA Women’s Champions League. And they are amongst the most experienced players in the squad with a combined total of 205 international caps between them.
Six Irish players in the travelling party are attached to clubs in the United Kingdom, three in Scandinavia, one in Germany, five in Ireland, and two in the US as goalkeeper Eve Badana plays for Drexel College in Philadelphia and defender Mary Therese McDonnell is with Chicago Red Stars of the WPSL Elite League.
“This trip presents a fantastic opportunity for the squad. It’s not often that you get to go up against the world number one seeds, but it’s an experience that each player will relish,” said Ronan upon revealing her roster.
“The players are not fazed by their opposition one bit, and I’m confident that they can pull together and give two strong performances.”
Ireland plan to use the two-game tour to the US to prepare for their upcoming qualifiers for the 2015 World Cup, which will be staged in Canada, after failing to reach the UEFA European Championships as they finished fourth in Group 4. But coach Ronan is upbeat about this month’s trip.
“Obviously, we were disappointed with how we finished in our Euro 2013 qualifying group. I don’t think second place was very far from our reach. However, with the World Cup campaign just around the corner I’m confident that we can re-group and strive towards qualification. These two games are ideal opportunities for the players to pick up experience against some top-class opponents,’ said Ronan.
Republic of Ireland Women’s squad
Goalkeepers: Emma Byrne (Arsenal), Eve Badana (Drexel College).
Defenders: Yvonne Tracy (Arsenal), Sophie Perry (Chelsea), Louise Quinn (Peamount United), Megan Campbell (Raheny United), Mary Therese McDonnell (Chicago Red Stars), Meabh de Burca (Amazon Grimstad FK).
Midfielders: Shannon McDonnell (Unattached), Diane Caldwell (Avaldsnes FC), Niamh Fahey (Arsenal), Ciara Grant (Raheny United), Julie-Ann Russell (Peamount United), Ruesha Littlejohn (Glasgow City FC), Aine O’Gorman (Doncaster Belles).
Forwards: Shannon Smyth (Amazon Grimstad FK), Fiona O’Sullivan (SC Frieburg), Denise O’Sullivan (Cork Women’s).
Gareth maher currently writes for the Irish Daily Mail on both domestic and international football.