Irish women footballers hit the heights overseas in weekend’s action

Amber Barrett, Abbie Larkin and Caitlin Hayes helped themselves to goals, while Niamh Reid-Burke really peaked

As if inspired by the Republic of Ireland’s Nations League campaign, Irish players abroad were hot on the goal trail over the weekend. Amber Barrett did her damnedest to earn an international recall by bringing her season’s tally to eight in 11 games with a hat-trick for Standard Liège against Mechelen on Saturday.

Interim manager Eileen Gleeson left Barrett out of her squad for the last two Nations League fixtures, but the Donegal woman will hope that her club form gets her back into the fold next year.

Abbie Larkin, meanwhile, helped herself to a double for Glasgow City in their league win over Hibernian, her first goals for the club. Caitlin Hayes also scored twice in Celtic’s 7-0 trouncing of Spartans.

In England, the Irish in the third round of the FA Cup all ended up on the winning sides against lower-league opposition, Blackburn captain Tyler Toland scoring in a 4-0 win over neighbours Darwen, while Eleanor Ryan-Doyle and Saoirse Noonan were on the scoresheet for Durham in their defeat of West Brom. And Ruesha Littlejohn’s perfect cross set up Niamh Farrelly for her goal in London City Lionesses’ victory over Billericay.


And it was also, on the whole, a good weekend for the Irish in the WSL, not least for Katie McCabe, who was part of the Arsenal side that thumped champions Chelsea 4-1 in front of a record crowd of 59,042 at the Emirates.

Courtney Brosnan had a most excellent day too, keeping a clean sheet in Everton’s 1-0 win away to West Ham. Heather Payne also started that game, with Megan Campbell coming on as a late sub. Megan Walsh, Jess Ziu and substitute Izzy Atkinson all featured for the London club, Ziu making her first start since suffering an anterior cruciate ligament injury 14 months ago.

Megan Connolly and Chloe Mustaki had a positive Sunday too, both part of the Bristol City side that drew 1-1 with Liverpool, a result that lifted them above West Ham and off the bottom of the table. A frustrating day for Liverpool, but Leanne Kiernan at least got some more minutes under her belt, coming on for the last half hour.

But perhaps the finest performance by any Irish footballer on foreign shores came from Peamount United goalkeeper Niamh Reid-Burke. You’d imagine after a lengthy campaign with her club, which ended with them winning the league and her earning the Golden Gloves gong, she’d be taking it easy. What did she do at the weekend? She only went and climbed Kilimanjaro with her Da. Like you do.

Mary Hannigan

Mary Hannigan

Mary Hannigan is a sports writer with The Irish Times