It will take another Shane Long moment to topple the mighty Germany in Tuesday’s women’s Euro 2022 qualifier (5pm, live on RTÉ2) and Amber Barrett is hoping there’s an equivalent female hero in their ranks.
Long’s winner against the then World champions in 2015 sealed Ireland a Euro play-off. The stakes are just as high for the women because only victory in the final qualifier at Tallaght Stadium will deliver the same outcome for the finals in 2022.
As the Donegal native has been based in Germany since the start of last season with Cologne, she’s well aware of the strength within their national team. Martina Voss-Tecklenburg’s side are tipped to become the ninth German side to lift the Euro title. They’re also undoubtedly the superpowers of the club circuit, with Bundesliga sides contesting 16 of the Uefa Champions League finals since they started in 2002.
“Everybody is very aware that we are going to need something very special on Tuesday night,” said the 24-year-old attacker.
“Our manager Vera Pauw sent the clip of Shane Long’s goal into our group after last month’s defeat in Ukraine.
It just resonates a lot because it is going to take something like that. Unfortunately, we won’t have 50,000 in the stadium cheering us on, but it certainly is going to be one of those games where anything could happen.
“As long as we stay in the game, the chances of us getting something will obviously increase.
“I would certainly have the bragging rights for a while back in Cologne if we get the result. Things aren’t just handed to you on a plate in football, so we will definitely have to earn it on Tuesday night.”
If Ireland are to cause the biggest shock across the entire qualifying series, they’ll need to breach Germany’s defence for the first time in the campaign.
Megan Campbell’s ferocious throw-ins led to both of Ireland’s goals in the 3-2 defeat at the same stadium back in 2014, so her return from injury provides hope of a repeat.
“With that throw-in, we could win the ball back in our own half and suddenly then we have a throw that goes up the field,” Barrett said of the Manchester City defender.
“We are going to have to take that as well. Of course, the throw-in is probably her best asset, but she is a very good footballer as well.”
Barrett can only hope that Ireland’s requirement for goals will increase her involvement. Since scoring against Greece last November on her only start for Pauw, mere cameo roles from the bench have been afforded to her.
“The fact that we didn’t score in Ukraine, people were questioning the decision a bit,” Barrett said of her 86th minute entrance.
“It’s difficult to get up to speed coming on for the last five minutes, especially with the Ukrainians playing so deep at that stage, but Vera doesn’t need to explain her decisions to me.”