Katie McCabe: ‘We are trying to develop a different philosophy of playing’

Announcement on a permanent successor to manager Eileen Gleeson expected imminently

There is a neat circle to the Republic of Ireland beginning their Nations League campaign with a 3-0 defeat of Northern Ireland at the Aviva Stadium and a 6-1 victory at Windsor Park.

Victorious in six matches, scoring 20 goals and conceding two, Eileen Gleeson’s charges proved what many already suspected. This Katie McCabe-led team were too slick, too professional, too far down the tracks to be troubled by European football’s second tier.

What comes next, in 2024, is the Nations League proper. Scotland and Wales failed to cope, both were relegated. Even Sweden and Portugal have struggled against France and Spain.

At least Ireland make the step up with a distinct plan, and an imminent managerial announcement.


“We are trying to develop a different philosophy of playing,” said McCabe after scoring her 26th international goal. “We don’t see each other that often. When we do, we have 10 days to work with each other which is a couple of training sessions.

“With not a lot of time together, I am very pleased with how we have tried to implement [tactics] and try to make the right decisions on the ball.

“When you change the way you want to play you are going to make mistakes,” she continued with a nod to an inaccurate opening half-hour. “There was talk around us lacking motivation for this game which was incredible to think people were questioning that. We were always motivated, wanting to make sure we finished this campaign with six wins from six. I am very proud of the girls for doing that.”

Whatever comes next, this year goes down as a special time in Irish women’s football, with McCabe at the vanguard.

“We want to play with intensity, we want to play on the front foot, we want to put teams under pressure and we got the capabilities to do that.

“We brought in youngsters. You see Jess Stapleton coming on, Izzy Atkinson and Abbie Larkin. We were able to make these changes once we got in front. 16-year-olds, like Freya [Healy], kids coming in.

“It has been really excitng. I knew we had that in our locker tonight, we played some really nice football and hopefully we gave fans and people at home something good to watch.”

McCabe gave short shrift to talk of history, to the sight of tricolours in Windsor Park, to Amhrán na bhFiann and God Save the King being respected before kick-off, to events that happened here 30 years ago.

“Bit before my time.”

It is also worth noting that the attendance was full of young Irish girls, only aware of recent historic events.

“I think it is really nice the way we started in the Aviva and finished here,” McCabe added. “Eileen [Gleeson] spoke about that full circle. Great stadium to play at. Really happy to see how many Irish fans were there in that top left hand corner.

“The fans know how much they mean to us. We are delighted we could finish the campaign with a win for them.”

Gavin Cummiskey

Gavin Cummiskey

Gavin Cummiskey is The Irish Times' Soccer Correspondent