Kiernan loves slow life in fast London

Kiernan loves slow life in fast London
West Ham striker Leanne Kiernan shows her skills during a Republic of Ireland training session at Johnstown House, Cn Meath. Picture: Seb Daly/Sportsfile.

Cavan native Leanne Kiernan is blending right in as part of West Ham United’s foreign legion.

The Cavan native 20-year-old Ireland women’s international is now in her second season at the English top-flight outfit which has developed a policy of recruiting from abroad.

An insight into the club’s approach was revealed earlier this year in a behind-the-scenes television documentary featuring Jack Sullivan, son of the club’s co-owner David Sullivan.

Snaffling bargains from overseas represents the value-for-money option, as evidenced by an early move for Cavan native Kiernan.

The striker had just broken into the Ireland senior team on the back of her hat-trick in the FAI Cup final and was attracting interest from various football powerhouses.

Relocating from the rural setting of her family pig farm in Bailieborough to the bright lights of London was a challenge for Kiernan, but it’s one she wasn’t meeting alone.

“Only two of the players in our squad are English; the rest of us are foreign,” she says, back home preparing for Tuesday’s trip with Ireland to Greece.

“This is my second year at the club and our manager Matt Beard strengthened the squad in pre-season with a lot of additions from abroad.

“Now we have German, Dutch, French, Norwegian, Canadian, and American players. The captain of South Korea, Cho So-hyun, is also with us.

“I live with three of them, including the American goalkeeper Courtney Brosnan, who plays for Ireland.

“It was difficult moving away from home so young because everything was done by my family.

“I had to catch up with learning to cook, but am well used to it now.

“I’ve made lots of lifelong friends. It’s great craic, as we definitely have the best banter.

“We don’t really discuss football at home, much preferring to relax by going for coffee and a piece of cake.

“We are not in the rush of London City, which for someone like me coming from Cavan, is nice.

“I’ve my car over there, so I can potter around the place and drive towards the country.”

Along those journeys, Kiernan’s mind could wander into her first real challenge at international level.

Although she was the star of Colin Bell’s side in the last campaign, breaking into the side as his main striker, new boss Vera Pauw last month caused a surprise by dropping her for the crunch Euro qualifier against Ukraine.

She had no reason to complain as her replacement Rianna Jarrett scored one and created another in the 3-2 victory over the group’s second seeds.

Given the Hammers star’s ability to occupy a wing role, she could return to the starting line-up in Tuesday’s third qualifier of the campaign in Greece.

Ireland will be favourites to rack of their third win of the campaign on the spin and so chart a course for at least a play-off in their bid to reach the 2021 finals.

“Vera made the right decision to start Rianna in the last game,” Kiernan said of the trip to Athens.

“I came on in the second half and Vera called me up afterwards.

“She said the intention was to bring me on for Rianna at half time and I said: ‘Why would you take her off when she was doing so well?’

We need to beat Greece to qualify and I’d be willing to play anywhere — even in goal!

“This is our best chance of becoming the first Ireland team to qualify for a major tournament.

“People are on about Germany hammering everybody in the group, but realistically, that’s not the point.

“The bigger picture is us having to beat Greece, Ukraine and Montenegro.

“If we don’t get goals and wins against them, then everything else is irrelevant, as we won’t qualify.”

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