Katie McCabe relishing prospect of first FA Cup final

More than 40,000 tickets sold for the game at Wembley between Arsenal and Chelsea

Katie McCabe of Arsenal in the Wembley Stadium dressing rooms. Photograph: David Price/Arsenal FC via Getty Images

Katie McCabe of Arsenal in the Wembley Stadium dressing rooms. Photograph: David Price/Arsenal FC via Getty Images

 

Republic of Ireland captain Katie McCabe says she is relishing the prospect of a first FA Cup final in which she is set to play a part with both the Dubliner and Blessington born Louise Quinn firmly in contention to start for Arsenal as they take on Chelsea at Wembley on Saturday afternoon.

More than 40,000 tickets had been sold for the game, which is a repeat of the 2016 final (which Arsenal won 1-0), by the middle of the week, 7,000 more even then than attended the one two years ago and another new record after last season’s 35,000.

“The whole build up the game, the day is fantastic,” says McCabe who was involved to that extent two years ago as a recent arrival at the club but then didn’t make even the bench.

“It was a huge disappointment but there were a lot of good, experienced players at the club and a few of them missed out too. To get another chance now is great.

“I’m not going to say that playing at Wembley is something that you have dreamed of as an Irish kid but you see that huge stadium there now and you do think ‘some day I want to play there myself’. If I can get to do it on Saturday then it would be really special. I think it would be for Louise too, she been around a while and for us both to play a part would be great for the Irish.”

Quinn scored the injury time winner against Everton that got Arsenal to the final and the 27 year was a central figure in the club’s League Cup success (they beat Chelsea’ big title rivals Manchester City in the final) a couple of months ago when McCabe got on for a couple of minutes at the end.

“So this would be my first real final here,” she says, “although we have to wait and see what happens, I’m not taking anything for granted.

The former Raheny United and Shelbourne player has been a regular starter of late under current coach Joe Montemurro who she describes as “a breath of fresh air” but results have not been great in the last couple of weeks with just one point taken from the visits to Yeovil and Birmingham, disappointments that have all but ended any hope of Champions League football next season.

“Birmingham (last weekend) are always tough but we really slipped up in Yeovil,” she says. “It’s been a good week, though, and we’re very focussed on how we are going to beat Chelsea. The line up will depend on how we end up setting up against them so we’ll just have to wait and see.”

There will be some big league games to come after that including one next weekend against new leaders City that could play a big part in deciding the title and some time shortly after that, McCabe’s future at Arsenal will be sorted with the Dubliner currently in talks about a new contract (her current one will be up in a few weeks) but coy about whether it is going to be agreed or not.

Either way, she will take some time at home with family, something she sounds as though she is relishing, and join up with the Irish squad for the World Cup qualifiers next month against Norway.

“I’d always push for people to get out of their comfort zone,” she says of her decision to move away three years ago. “You look at Diane (Caldwell) in Germany, Niamh (Fahey) in France; it’s possible to go and play in these places. And the training you get, the games you get to play in, you are going to be fit; you are going to be ready to play against the big nations. But it’s difficult for some people; people have things going on at home and so it’s not for everybody just to get up and go.”

For her, being back at home will, she says, be really good. Does she like London? “Ah yeah,” she replies quickly, “I like it but...I mean.... it’s no Dublin.”

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