Katie McCabe faces long-distance commute for Ireland’s double-header with Sweden

Eileen Gleeson plays down concerns about Arsenal star travelling to Australia for exhibition match

It’s a fair indication of the importance of Katie McCabe to this Republic of Ireland team that the bulk of the focus when manager Eileen Gleeson named her squad on Wednesday for the upcoming Euro 2025 qualifying games against Sweden was on the captain’s ability to recover from jet lag.

Gleeson could really have done without Arsenal including McCabe in the squad that left for Australia on Sunday to play an exhibition match in Melbourne on Friday, giving the player less than a week to recover before the game against Sweden at the Aviva Stadium on Friday, May 31st. The nations meet again in Stockholm four days later.

But Gleeson tried to play down any concerns about McCabe’s schedule, although it’s hardly ideal that she will arrive in Dublin one to two days later than the rest of the squad.

“We knew this trip was coming so we’ve been planning for it,” she said. “We’ve had a lot of communication with the club around recovery and sleep strategies for when she returns. We have to manage these situations, they’re out of our operational control.”


The two notable absentees from the 26-strong squad are Niamh Fahey and Heather Payne who are both ruled out with Achilles injuries. Fahey hasn’t played for Liverpool since March while Payne has missed Everton’s last four games. She had an outstanding first season with the club and was named their young player of the year on Wednesday, while her team-mate Courtney Brosnan won their players’ player of the season award.

Denise O’Sullivan had been a doubt with the knee injury she picked up against Kansas City Current on May 12th, forcing her to miss North Carolina Courage’s game last Saturday. But Gleeson said that the injury was less serious than first feared and she is feeling “positive” about the midfielder’s availability. There is, meanwhile, a first call-up for another Cork native, 19-year-old Eva Mangan rewarded for her impressive form for Cork City this season.

McCabe’s Arsenal team-mate Stina Blackstenius misses both games against Ireland with a hip injury, but manager Peter Gerhardsson has still been able to call on a wealth of experience, his squad including six players who have just won league titles in England, Germany and Spain with Chelsea, Bayern Munich and Barcelona.

Ireland opened their campaign with a 1-0 defeat away to France last month before losing 2-0 to England in Dublin four days later. The Swedes started theirs with a bang by drawing with England at Wembley, but they then lost at home to France.

The French, then, top the group, two points ahead of England, and they could yet play Ireland in Cork in July in the return game. The Aviva and Tallaght stadiums will both be unavailable and after GAA’s Central Council approved the use of Páirc Uí Chaoimh for the match, the FAI are awaiting approval from Uefa for the use of the ground.

IRELAND: C Brosnan (Everton), G Moloney (London City Lionesses), S Whitehouse (Lewes); J Stapleton (West Ham), D Caldwell (FC Zurich), Louise Quinn (Birmingham City), C Hayes (Celtic), A Patten (Aston Villa), A Mannion (Manchester United), M Campbell (London City); K McCabe (Arsenal), D O’Sullivan (North Carolina Courage), M Connolly (Bristol City), R Littlejohn (London City), T Toland (Blackburn Rovers), L Agg (Birmingham City), J Ziu (West Ham), Lucy Quinn (Birmingham City), E McLaughlin (Peamount United), E Mangan (Cork City), I Atkinson (Crystal Palace); K Carusa (San Diego Wave), L Kiernan (Liverpool), E Murphy (Wake Forest University), A Larkin (Crystal Palace), A Barrett (Standard Liege).

SWEDEN: J Falk, J Rybrink, R Kafaji, A Sandberg (BK Häcken), Z Mušović, N Björn, J Rytting Kaneryd (Chelsea), J Andersson, E Wangerheim (Hammarby IF), S Jakobsson, H Lundkvist (San Diego Wave), M Janogy, P Hammarlund (Fiorentina), L Sembrant, M Eriksson (Bayern Munich), J Zigiotti Olme, E Kullberg (Brighton), T Enblom (Vålerenga), M Vinberg (Tottenham), F Angeldahl (Manchester City), H Glas (Kansas City Current), M Cato (IFK Norrköping), H Bennison (Everton), F Rolfö (Barcelona), K Asllani (AC Milan).

Mary Hannigan

Mary Hannigan

Mary Hannigan is a sports writer with The Irish Times