McCabe on a mission to make European semi-finals

Katie McCabe (Picture: SPORTSFILE)

Football success has visited the McCabe household over many years but Katie has designs on taking it to the European pinnacle with Ireland’s U19 women’s team.

Her brother Gary scored important goals against Partizan Belgrade and FK Ekranas for Shamrock Rovers in their historic run to the Europa League group stages in 2012.

Now Katie is aiming for a place in the annals of Irish football too as she faces into tonight’s European Championship tie against England in Mjondalen, Norway (KO 6pm, Irish time).

Tuesday’s opening win over Spain propelled Ireland into a position whereby another three points this evening would confirm progression into next week’s semi-finals even before the concluding Group B match against Sweden.

Like her strike partner Clare Shine, McCabe has battled back from breaking her leg earlier this year to feature at European football’s biggest stage. League of Ireland commitments prevent Gary supporting her in Norway for now but she wants to give him reason to travel next week.

“Hopefully we get the win tonight which puts us into the semis,” said the 18-year-old Raheny United ace.

“With his matches and training, he can’t travel this week but he said there’s a good chance he’ll get over here for the semis if we make it.”

As England lost their opener to Sweden, McCabe reckons they’ll try anything tonight to try to salvage their campaign.

“England will be out to beat us, probably trying to pull our jerseys and the like, but we go into every game thinking we’ll win it,” she said.

“Any game at the European finals is big but there’s that bit extra involved against England. We were the eighth seed of the eight teams here but showed against Spain what we’re capable of. Our manager Dave Connell has us prepared well for England too.”

England striker Claudia Walker is wary of the challenge Ireland will pose. The Liverpool recruit said: “It’s a game both teams will have that extra bit of drive for, and Ireland will be on a high after beating Spain. I’ve heard about how the Irish girls are looking forward to today and we’re no different. We know a handful of them through our clubs so it will be a memorable game.”

Connell will have defender Keeva Keenan available after she missed the first game through injury, while striker Sarah Rowe is nursing a foot injury but should be fit.

IRELAND (probable): Dunne (Peamount Utd); Wright (Texas University), McCarthy (Listowel Celtic), O’Connell (Wilton), Mustaki (Peamount Utd); Dwyer (Wexford Yths); O’Connor (Wilton), Connolly (College Corinthians); McCabe (Raheny Utd), Shine (Raheny Utd), Rowe (Castlebar Celtic).


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