Aviva pitch redevelopment denies Irish women historic first versus France

Vera Pauw’s side will play France at Tallaght Stadium on July 6th before leaving for Australia

The Republic of Ireland women’s team have been denied a World Cup send off at the Aviva Stadium due to “pitch redevelopment work”.

Instead, Vera Pauw’s charges face France at Tallaght Stadium on July 6th, two days before flying to their pre-tournament camp in Brisbane.

“We did explore the possibility of hosting this game in Aviva Stadium but it was not available due to scheduled pitch redevelopment work,” said Jonathan Hill, the FAI chief executive. “We are now aiming to sell out Tallaght Stadium for what will be the perfect way to send the Ireland team off to the World Cup.”

An Irish women’s side has never been accommodated at the Aviva while the men first played at Lansdowne Road in 1927.


The Aviva surface will manage to accommodate the men’s European Championships qualifier against Gibraltar on June 19th before two Rugby World Cup warm-ups against Italy and England in August. The pitch must also be ready for the money-spinning American Football event between Notre Dame and Navy on August 26th.

Overall in 2023, the Aviva hosts 10 male matches across three sports, including the Champions Cup final on May 20th, the same day the undisputed lightweight world champion Katie Taylor is set to fight Amanda Serrano at the 3Arena.

Despite Taylor’s long-stated wish, Croke Park is unavailable due to boxing promoter Eddie Hearn baulking at a €500,000 security charge.

With the 18,500 capacity RDS Showgrounds also unavailable for Ireland against France in July, Katie McCabe’s history makers hope to be the first team to play at the newly renovated Tallaght arena. If the new stand is completed in time, the capacity will jump from 8,000 to 10,000, but this is by no means a certainty.

The record attendance for a women’s football international in Ireland was broken last September when 6,952 turned up for the 1-0 defeat of Finland despite 7,500 tickets being sold.

“It is fantastic that we will get to play in front of our fans in our home of Tallaght Stadium before going to Australia for the World Cup,” said Pauw. “I’d like to thank everyone at the FAI who has helped to organise this game because we need to test ourselves against a high-quality opponent in order to prepare us for the World Cup.”

France are drawn in Group F with a potential classic tie against Brazil, also in Brisbane at Suncorp stadium on July 29th.

The FAI are still to confirm two more friendlies in April, with the build-up for the World Cup opener against hosts Australia starting against China at Estadio Nuevo Mirador in southern Spain on February 22nd.

Gavin Cummiskey

Gavin Cummiskey

Gavin Cummiskey is The Irish Times' Soccer Correspondent