County Wicklow has produced yet another Irish International much to the heartache of Wicklow Ladies Gaelic Football fans as Kilbride and Wicklow Ladies ace Claire Walsh has followed in the footsteps of West Wicklow neighbour Louise Quinn from Blessington in lining out for the Irish Women’s National Team.
Its one hell of an achievement to be selected as one of Ireland’s elite ballers but to make your international debut against the Women’s World Cup Champions, the USA in your first game for your country is pretty damn special and having your friends and family among the 37,000 fans in the iconic Rose Bowl stadium is truly the icing on an extremely sweet cake. We caught up with Claire to chat with her about her International Debut and she shared her emotions on such a major milestone in her career:
It was an amazing experience. Playing against the World Cup Champions in front of 37,000 fans is something I’ll never forget. I got on at the end of the game which was an unbelievable way to make my international debut. I went in for Louise Quinn, who is a fellow West Wicklow head and is someone who i’ve always looked up to so that was a pretty cool moment. It was mad playing with & against players who you’ve looked up to since you were a kid, the likes of Tobin Heath, Carli Loyd, Kelley O’Hara. 3-0 was a decent result for us too, they obviously are in top form after the world cup, and we are preparing for the Euro 2021 qualifiers which kicks off at home in September against Montenegro.
We played at the Rose Bowl stadium which was unreal. I think it holds 95,000 people and the superbowl has been on there so it was a deadly stadium and the atmosphere on the night of the game was great. The US Women’s team have such a massive fan base so they really put on a show for the first game of their victory tour.
I have to give a special mention to my dad Bill, who made the trip over. He’s an absolute legend and never misses my games, even when they’re half way across the world. It was such a special night for me to make my debut, but to have him there after made it even better.
It was my first time being in the senior squad since June 2018. I struggled with injuries and illness for a lot of last season but I’ve put everything into soccer this year so it was nice to get back into the squad for this game. Club football in Peamount has been going really well this year too and we have such quality in the team so the standard of training has been high. Putting 100% into soccer meant sacrificing a lot of other things, the biggest one being playing GAA for my club Kilbride and for Wicklow.
I love that team and it was really hard to walk away this year but I knew that if I wanted to get back in the squad and stay healthy that I would need to give it absolutely everything. The next challenge is to qualify for the European Championships in 2021, so I’m really looking forward to that campaign kicking off in the next few weeks.
IRELAND 2 MONTENEGRO 0
Ireland opened their Euro 21 Qualifying Campaign with a 2 goal win over Montenegro at Tallaght Stadium with Blesso’s Louise Quinn bossing the defense and Claire making her competitive debut off the bench. We got Claire’s view on the superb win:
Delighted to get some game time in a competitive game & to play in front of a big home crowd, I think there was around 3,500 there. Good start to the campaign and looking forward to Ukraine at home in October.
A great start to the campaign and a win over the Ukraine will put Ireland in a good position in the group alongside Germany. The naming of new Ireland coach Vera Pauw will bring a fresh new approach and hopefully Claire can play a pivotal role for Ireland alongside Louise in the Euro Qualifying campaign and we wish them all the very best. There may also be a little skills challenge to come in a few weeks with the West Wicklow Rivalry between Blessington and Kilbride played out by our two internationals so that will be a battle of the ages not to be missed if it comes to pass so stay tuned😉
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