Arsenal’s title overshadows hard times for Louise Quinn

Blessington footballer has taken a roundabout route to earning league winner’s medal

The Arsenal Women players celebrate winning the FA WSL League. Photo: Steve Bardens/Getty Images

The Arsenal Women players celebrate winning the FA WSL League. Photo: Steve Bardens/Getty Images

 

There’s a fair chunk of 2019 to go yet, so we’ll just trust that we’ll have a few more Irish sporting stories that’ll warm our chilly hearts, but if any of them prove more gladdening than the sight of Louise Quinn celebrating on that pitch at Brighton on Sunday afternoon, after Arsenal had wrapped up their first English league title since 2012, we’ll be doing mighty well.

It was only a few weeks back that the 28-year-old from Blessington reflected on the predicament she found herself in precisely two years ago and concluded that it turned out to be “a blessing in disguise”, although at the time it felt like anything but, the Republic of Ireland defender left without a job and fearing her professional football career might be over.

And the irony isn’t lost on her – two years ago she was due to make her league debut for Notts County against Arsenal, having joined the club after four years with Eskilstuna in Sweden, when County pulled the plug on its women’s team, leaving Quinn and her colleagues jobless, high and dry.

“God yeah, it is literally almost two years to the day,” she says. “What a turnaround. It’s hard to describe at the moment, the ups and downs of it all, there were some tough times in there, but Sunday made every step of it worthwhile.”

Arsenal gave her a lifeline back in 2017, signing her on a short term contract, one that has since been extended, Quinn having convinced Australian coach Joe Montemurro that she was good enough to be a mainstay of the team’s defence.

Irish tradition

And along with Republic of Ireland captain Katie McCabe, Quinn has helped maintain a strong Irish tradition at the club, predecessors like Emma Byrne, Yvonne Tracy and Ciara Grant having contributed towards making Arsenal the dominant force in the women’s game in England, winning 11 league titles in the 12 seasons between 2001 and 2012. Chelsea and Manchester City then took over, though, once they began investing in their women’s teams, Arsenal unable to challenge them these past seven seasons. Until now.

“We have a roll of honours board at the training ground that lists all the trophies the club has won, so just to see every day that there hadn’t been a league title for seven years, we wanted to fix that. That’s what we’ve always wanted, to put Arsenal back on top where they belong. And now we’ve done it.”

“It’s definitely my proudest moment. When I look at where I’ve come from, it’s amazing. I never even dreamt about it, winning a title with Arsenal was never even in my thought process when I was going through the ranks, playing at home and then playing in Sweden.”

“Myself and Katie had our little moment after Sunday’s game, telling each other we were glad we’re both here together, doing it for each other, representing Ireland, thinking of the likes of Emma, Ciara and Yvonne and Niamh Fahey too, people who really set the standards for us and all Irish players.”

Feeling good, then?

“Feeling great …. well, better than I did this morning.”

A good night?

“A great night,” she laughs. Good times.

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