After a couple of injury-enforced absences hampered her progress, Cork girl Clare Shine is eager to end 2015 by earning her competitive debut against Spain in tomorrow’s European Championship qualifier.
The 20-year-old striker had long been tipped for stardom from her early teens, only for two leg breaks within 18 months to interfere with a career many believe will culminate with her becoming Ireland’s main striker for many years to come.
This season has seen the Douglas native overcome a second fracture to seal a move to Glasgow City and crown her debut season by bagging all three goals of their 3-0 Scottish Cup final triumph over Hibernian.
International recognition has been more difficult to secure. Despite getting fast-tracked into the senior Ireland squad at 18 almost two years ago, Shine’s first action in a qualifier still awaits.
The visit of top seeds to Spain to Tallaght Stadium tomorrow (2pm) represents an ideal introductory point, especially considering the form she’s in.
“I know the Spanish well, so it would be nice to be involved,” Shine said yesterday.
“I was only 15 when we played Spain at the U17 European Championship final back in 2013 and I then a scored the winner against them at the U19 Euros last year.
“There’s definitely a space in the team for me if I work hard. Spain will have some good players, their midfielder Amanda Sampedro (from Atletico Madrid) ripped us apart when we played them at underage level, but we’re going into the game looking for the win.”
Should manager Sue Ronan involve Shine against Spain, she’ll have a player in tip-top condition.
Becoming a professional footballer was always her ambition and, after linking up with fellow Leesider Denise O’Sullivan at the Scottish champions, she’s part of an environment conducive to fulfilling her potential.
“I was never really into school, university or college, although I tried college and it wasn’t for me,” she explains.
“I like the full-time training, football and the lifestyle. Glasgow City really look after their players, it is all laid out on the table for us.
“We train four days per week and the rest periods help. It gives you time to think about the game and what’s expected of you.
“Maybe in the new year I’ll look at getting a part-time job as well, perhaps a bit of coaching, because there is a lot of free time.”
As Shine discovered when facing Chelsea in the Champions League earlier this year, the English Super League is another notch up. That’s why she plans gracing the multi-cultural league in time.
She said: “Hopefully in the next few years I can go one more step by moving to England.
“All of the top players in Scotland have eventually moved on. One girl, Rachel Corsie, came back on loan for the Champions League. She plays for Seattle Reigns in America alongside the likes of Hope Solo.”
Ronan remains a big admirer of Shine, noting the success of her move to Scotland following a series of setbacks.
“Clare was a full year out of the game, so it’s a big step-up to international football,” reasons the manager.
“Still, all the goals she’s scored in Scotland have got her confidence back. Clare is a natural goalscorer and part of a young group in the squad with no fear.”
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