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'There's a chance to do something here' | What is next for Irish women's football?

The FAI and Irish football cannot simply rest on the exhilaration of Tuesday's World Cup qualification, but must use it to strengthen and grow the women's game.

The FAI and Irish football cannot simply rest on the exhilaration of Tuesday's World Cup qualification, but must use it to strengthen and grow the women's game.

Katie McCabe's Ireland side did something that no other women's football team from Ireland have ever done: secure qualification for the World Cup finals.

A historic 1-0 victory over Scotland in Hampden Park was enough to book a spot on the plane for Vera Pauw and her players to Australia for next year.

While the euphoria from that victory is still fresh, there is little time to rest on the laurels and enjoy it. In fact, Ireland's most capped player and former captain Emma Byrne believes that Irish football needs to strike while the iron is hot and put their full weight behind strengthening women's football.

Women's football needs to be independent

Speaking on The Saturday Panel, Byrne explained what she hopes to see develop off the back of the euphoria of Tuesday night.

"It's all about developing facilities in Ireland, trying to develop solely-women's clubs," Byrne said.

"I'm not sure whether it's to help out the clubs that are already there like Shelbourne and St Pat's and stuff like that. I don't think it's good enough.

"I don't think that women feel that they have a place. It's always borrowing things from the men, it's always borrowing time slots. That's the same with Gaelic football.

"We need to be independent. We need to have our own place to train. I believe it's an academy, a national academy, that needs to be set up for women only, for girls.

"Get the right coaches in, get the right specialists in, and encourage young kids to motivate them to want to go there. Set up a proper education system, so you're also educating them alongside their football. That encourages parents as well."

Ireland's progress does not stop here

For the Independent's Dan McDonnell, who was speaking on Football Saturday, the responsibility to get behind all women's football programmes rests on everyone.

"There is a chance to try and do something here," McDonnell said. "Whether that be an academy or whatever way they choose to go.

"You could be starting off in a position where actually you could meaningfully qualify and be competing for tournaments on a regular basis if you get stuff right.

"I would hope that's where this discussion goes as opposed to the natural exhilaration of, 'let's all get on board with this'.

"Everyone has a responsibility, and that includes media, to think, 'okay, how can we push this on?' We all saw what a brilliant boost and lift we all got from Tuesday. What can we do to make this more regular?"


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Aine O'Gorman Amber Barrett Arsenal COYGIG Chloe Mustaki Courtney Brosnan Denise O'Sullivan Emma Byrne Football Hampden Park International Football John Duggan Katie Mccabe Niamh Fahey Olivia O'toole ROI Republic Of Ireland Saturday Panel Scotland Scotland V Republic Of Ireland Sky Ireland Soccer The Saturday Panel Vera Pauw World Cup 2023