Ireland boss Vera Pauw believes Sky deal ‘a statement for women’s sport’

Four-year agreement will cover the next two qualification campaigns

Ireland women’s football manager Vera Pauw at the launch of a new sponsorship deal with Sky for the senior team. Photograph: Harry Murphy/Sportsfile

Ireland women’s football manager Vera Pauw at the launch of a new sponsorship deal with Sky for the senior team. Photograph: Harry Murphy/Sportsfile

 

For every mention of the unsponsored men’s shirt, FAI chief executive Jonathan Hill and Sky Ireland chief executive JD Buckley highlighted a record deal for women’s sport in this country.

No figures were released about the four-year agreement that will see Sky branded on the Republic of Ireland female jerseys for the next two qualification campaigns, and with a lot of luck and even more investment, manager Vera Pauw might guide Katie McCabe’s team to a major tournament.

Sky have not considered sponsoring both jerseys, like BT Sport do with England, but Hill is adamant that the FAI’s search for a major commercial partner is progressing.

“When I heard it was Sky, I have goose bumps even now,” said Pauw, “because a partner like Sky will inspire all of the girls because there will be features, all the games are already live on TV but there will be much more around that.

“It’s a brand that has recognition all over the world and it’s a statement for women’s sport, not only women’s football.

“We are aware we have not qualified yet for a finals tournament. You trust the potential of these fantastic players and I can only say we will do our part to support you in any way.”

Pauw’s emotional reaction could not gloss over the fact that Ireland’s opening World Cup 2023 qualifier in Tbilisi on September 17th has been bumped to June 2022 as the UK government has Georgia on its red list. Fifteen of the current Irish squad are on professional contracts in England or Scotland so quarantining on their return is not an option.

It is also hard to forget that Ireland have lost their last seven internationals.

“To succeed you must have the guts to fail,” replied Pauw to these concerns, before revealing that the FAI has created a scouting system across Ireland, Australia, the UK and the US along with a ‘goalkeeping project’ to address historical problems in the position. “I have never chosen myself in my career, I will always do what is best for the players.”

The squad gathers for a friendly against Australia in Tallaght on September 21st before the qualifier campaign belatedly starts at home to Olympic silver medallists Sweden on October 21st with Finland away five days later.

There is still no place for Tyler Toland, the 20-year-old Celtic midfielder, after Pauw previously accused her father Maurice Toland of “harassment and intimidation”.

“Tyler is not playing [for Celtic],” Pauw said, “she is not on their team sheet. She has not made herself available yet, but she is not playing so there is no reason for any steps.”

REPUBLIC OF IRELAND WOMEN’S SQUAD

Goalkeepers: Grace Moloney (Reading), Courtney Brosnan (Everton), Eve Badana (DLR Waves)

Defenders: Harriet Scott (Birmingham City), Niamh Fahey (Liverpool), Diane Caldwell (North Carolina Courage), Louise Quinn (Birmingham City), Claire Walsh (Glasgow City), Savannah McCarthy (Galway WFC), Áine O’Gorman (Peamount United), Éabha O’Mahony (Boston College)

Midfielders: Denise O’Sullivan (North Carolina Courage), Megan Connolly (Brighton & Hove Albion), Jamie Finn (Birmingham City), Ruesha Littlejohn (Aston Villa), Ciara Grant (Shelbourne), Niamh Farrelly (Glasgow City), Roma McLaughlin (Central Connecticut State University), Jess Ziu (Shelbourne), Katie McCabe (Arsenal)

Forwards: Heather Payne (Florida State University), Rianna Jarrett (London City Lionesses), Amber Barrett (FC Koln), Kyra Carusa (HB Hoge), Clare Shine (Glasgow City), Emily Whelan (Birmingham City), Saoirse Noonan (Shelbourne).

International Friendly: Republic of Ireland v Australia, Tallaght Stadium, Tuesday, September 21st, 7.0 – Live on RTÉ2

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