A 1-0 victory over Scotland in October 2022 was one of the most memorable days in Irish football; the Republic of Ireland women booked their place at the Women’s World Cup for the first time in the nation’s history.
Amber Barrett’s second-half strike was enough to send The Girls in Green to Australia and New Zealand, following an equally important penalty save earlier in the game from Courtney Brosnan. The margins were incredibly fine, but history was made.
They weren’t done making history, though. Not when the margins are so fine and when there is a chance to put Irish football on the world stage.
And certainly not with Katie McCabe wearing the captain’s armband heading into the tournament.
Arsenal’s industrious left-back-turned-left midfielder is not only the beating heart of Vera Pauw’s side but the technician, the creator, the tackler, the complete all-rounder. The absolute boss. And boy does she make sure the opposition knows it.
It’s no surprise, then, that the 27-year-old is absolutely thriving with all eyes on her at the Women’s World Cup. It takes serious guts to pull on the armband and lead out the underdogs at their first-ever tournament, slotted into a group of death which includes the co-hosts and the 2020 Olympic gold medallists.
In more simple terms, some can, some can’t. McCabe went some way in proving that she absolutely can against Australia on matchday one, by nailing just about everybody who stood in her way and trying to score from improbable angles such as the corner flag.
But she cemented her status in matchday two against Canada by going one further and scoring the Republic of Ireland’s first-ever goal at a Women’s World Cup – from a corner kick.
Seriously. An Olimpico goal. The kind of goal that hasn’t been seen at the men’s World Cup since 1962. And it was a scorcher.
🚨🚨🚨 Katie McCabe scoring directly from a corner🚨🚨🚨pic.twitter.com/jKBKtqBaFI
— Planet Football (@planetfutebol) July 26, 2023
That is outrageous. Whip in abundance. Pure technique. Goal of the tournament? Quite possibly.
Canada goalkeeper Kailan Sheridan ought to do better, she knows that. But come on. To even have the stones to try and beat the keeper directly from a corner. At your first World Cup? Insane. McCabe deserves all the credit for such a strike.
The best part is that McCabe meant it. Completely. Fans of Arsenal Women won’t be surprised by that, with the 27-year-old known for exclusively scoring worldies, but this has taken that reputation to another level.
Celebration says it all. Captain charisma. Completely unshaken. Arms out, smile as wide as the sun. That was brewing. Several of them have gone in on the training ground, we can only imagine. Serious aura.
Regardless of what happens next for the Republic of Ireland at their maiden Women’s World Cup, nobody can take away such an iconic moment from McCabe, the rest of the team and the fans who watched it live in Perth and from around the world.
Tournaments are remembered by winners, but also by moments. And McCabe delivered an all-time moment in Irish football history, by bagging an Olimpico goal against the Olympic gold medallists.
Whether that’s the consolation prize in a group stage exit or the catalyst for surprise is irrelevant at this moment; what is relevant is giving a truly tremendous footballer her flowers, and using it as a means to continue progressing forward.
By Mitchell Wilks