Big week for Katie McCabe ends on a sour note as Liverpool shock Arsenal

Megan Connolly’s league debut as captain for Bristol City marked by a 4-2 home defeat by Leicester

While Arsenal set a new Women’s Super League attendance record on the opening day of the season, 54,115 turning up at the Emirates to see their surprise 1-0 defeat by Liverpool, the figures were less cheery from an Irish point of view, just two of the 13 Republic of Ireland players with WSL clubs starting on Sunday.

And both of them, Katie McCabe and Megan Connolly, ended up on losing sides. Things can only get better.

It was the first time in 10 years that Arsenal lost the opening game of their league campaign, putting a dampener on what had been a nigh on perfect week for McCabe who led Ireland to a Nations League victory in Budapest before signing a new contract with the club.

Liverpool, for whom Miri Taylor scored a second-half winner, were without Niamh Fahey and Leanne Kiernan, the pair part of a lengthy Irish injury list which also includes Manchester United’s Aoife Mannion. All three players will miss next month’s Nations League games against Albania.


Connolly, appointed captain of newly-promoted Bristol City after joining them from Brighton during the summer, saw her league debut marked by a 4-2 home defeat by Leicester City, Chloe Mustaki an unused sub for Bristol.

Everton and West Ham’s Irish contingent suffered opening day defeats too, Heather Payne coming off the bench to make her Everton debut in a 2-1 loss to Brighton, her team-mate Courtney Brosnan having to sit the game out after Emily Ramsey was selected in goal, while Megan Campbell, only signed on Friday, wasn’t part of the Everton squad.

Megan Walsh, Izzy Atkinson and Jess Ziu also watched from the bench for West Ham’s 2-0 defeat to Manchester City, but that was progress for Ziu a year since she suffered an anterior cruciate ligament injury. Jessie Stapleton, who signed for West Ham from Shelbourne during the summer, missed out with a quad injury.

In the Championship, Tyler Toland was part of the Blackburn team that made it four wins out of five against Lewes to stay top of the table, while Louise Quinn, Lucy Quinn, Lily Agg and Jamie Finn all contributed to Birmingham City’s first win of the season, 3-0 away to Southampton.

Kyra Carusa and Caitlin Hayes, meanwhile, got their names on the scoresheet again five days after being among the goals in Budapest, Carusa getting San Diego Wave’s first against Portland Thorns in a 2-1 win that saw them seal a place in the NWSL play-offs.

And Hayes was among Celtic’s scorers in their 6-0 Scottish Cup win over Hamilton, Abbie Larkin making her Glasgow City debut in the same competition when she came on in their 11-1 trouncing of St Johnstone.

Mary Hannigan

Mary Hannigan

Mary Hannigan is a sports writer with The Irish Times