Niamh Fahey says Ireland must grasp chance

Success on the club front has proven relatively easy for Chelsea defender Niamh Fahey but it’s fixtures like today’s European Championship qualifier which will define whether she can add international progression to her repertoire.

Niamh Fahey says Ireland must grasp chance

Top seeds Spain visit Tallaght Stadium (2pm) for Ireland’s third fixture of the 2017 qualification campaign with Fahey aware even a point could sway the outcome eventual of the group in their favour.

An expanded tournament in the Netherlands presents nations like Ireland with the greatest chance of breaking their qualification duck. Having claimed three points from their opening two games against Finland and Portugal, something snared off the classy Spaniards would be considered a massive bonus.

“We probably didn’t really have any expectations in previous campaigns but then going so close in the 3-2 loss to Germany during the last series makes you learn,” explained Galway girl Fahey.

“This is definitely the best equipped we’ve been in terms of trying to qualify. Some of the younger players from the last campaign are that bit older and we’ve got the fresh blood in there as well.

“Even their players in the English league don’t like the tackles, so they won’t like coming here to play on a November afternoon.”

Fahey has become a mainstay of the English game since moving from Ireland in 2008. Six trophy-laded years with Arsenal were the precursor to her move across London to Chelsea last year. The colours might have changed but the silverware didn’t.

“It was a great first year with Chelsea by winning the English Women’s Super League and the FA Cup,” she said.

“I’ve just signed a new two-year contract and it’s an exciting time to be at the club. Instead of being part of the Chelsea foundation, we’re now directly under the club’s wing, meaning our manager Emma Hayes answers directly to the top guys like Bruce Buck (Chairman) and Michael Emenalo (Director of Football).

Like Fahey, Ireland manager Sue Ronan admits holding the Spanish to a draw has to be deemed mission accomplished.

“A point would be a great result - actually a fantastic result because I can see this lot beating everyone in the group,” she notes.

“Our underage squads have got results against them in recent years. They’ve never liked our style of play, getting in their faces and that.”

IRELAND (probable):

E Byrne (Arsenal); S Perry (Brighton), L Quinn (Eskilstuna), N Fahey (Chelsea), C Rossiter (Wexford Youths); R Littlejohn (Celtic), D Caldwell (Avaldsness); JA Russell (UCD Waves), D O’Sullivan (Glasgow City), S Roche (Sunderland); A O’Gorman (UCD Waves).

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