Wednesday 16 January 2019

A legend retires

O'Gorman calls time on wonderful international career

Aine O’Gorman during the 2019 FIFA Women’s World Cup Qualifier Group 3 match against Northern Ireland in Lurgan. Photo by Stephen McCarthy/Sportsfile
Aine O’Gorman during the 2019 FIFA Women’s World Cup Qualifier Group 3 match against Northern Ireland in Lurgan. Photo by Stephen McCarthy/Sportsfile
Aine O’Gorman of Republic of Ireland prior to the 2019 FIFA Women’s World Cup Qualifier match between Republic of Ireland and Norway at Tallaght Stadium. Photo by Stephen McCarthy/Sportsfile
Aine in action against Gunnhildur Yrsa Jónsdóttir of Iceland. Photo by Matt Browne/Sportsfile
Aine and other team-mates during a women’s national team press conference at Liberty Hall in Dublin. Photo by Cody Glenn/Sportsfile

Daniel Gorman

One of Co. Wicklow's most inspiring heroines, Aine O'Gorman, has called time on her wonderful international career after 100 appearances for the Republic of Ireland's WNT.

The Enniskerry woman's decision was announced on Monday evening and the tributes poured in for the 29-year old from her current and former team-mates.

Over a span of 12 years, O'Gorman amassed 100 caps and found the net 13 times as she played in almost every position on the pitch for the Girls in Green.

It was way back in 2006 at the Algarve Cup against Denmark that a fresh-faced O'Gorman made her debut at the age of 16 and the rest is history.

Her 100th cap came in June as Ireland fell to a 1-0 defeat to Norway.

Following the announcement, WNT manager Colin Bell paid tribute to Aine's international service. "Aine has had a fantastic international career and has had a profound impact on the growth of the sport in this country," Bell said.

"For any player to get over 100 caps is a fantastic feat and she should be very proud of her achievements. Ever since I began my management of the team, Aine has been a fantastic person to work with.

"She has been a fantastic role model to the young players who've come into the squad over the past year or so, and I would like to thank for her professionalism in every camp. I really hope that Aine will stay in the game and contribute even further to women's football.

"She has fantastic experience and knowledge which would be invaluable to young players, and I really hope to see her look to pursue the coaching pathway."

FAI CEO John Delaney also paid tribute to her contribution to the rise of women's football in Ireland. "Aine has been one of our star players for the women's national team over the past decade and has been a terrific servant to her country.

"Aine has shown great loyalty to the team since her debut in 2006 and when she played for Ireland, you could tell how much it meant to her with her passion, pride and energy.

"Aine gave 100% effort in every game she played for Ireland and for any player to receive a Golden Cap is a huge achievement. She retires from international football as one of the most decorated footballers to serve her country and I wish her well in the future."

Chairperson of the Women's Football Committee and FAI Board Member Niamh O'Donoghue spoke glowingly of her work off the pitch as well. "I'm sorry to hear of Aine's decision to retire from international football. She has given her country a fantastic 12 years of service and has been a huge part of the development of the game", O'Donoghue said.

"Aine has not just contributed on the pitch but has worked tirelessly with our Aviva Soccer Sisters scheme to help promote women's football at grassroots level. The sport is now one of the fastest-growing in the country and Aine can take huge pride from that having contributed so passionately to it's success.

"I look forward to continuing to watch Aine play for Peamount United in the Women's National League and I sincerely hope she continues to contribute to the development of the game. Her experience and expertise would be invaluable and I look forward to seeing what the future holds for her."

O'Gorman penned a rather touching open letter to reveal her pride in all she achieved and to thank all the people she'd whilst living out her childhood dream.

"After 12 years of representing my country at senior level and 100 caps for the Republic of Ireland Women's National Team, it is with great sadness and joy that I'm retiring from international football.

"It has been an incredible journey with the team over the years and one which has been such a huge part of my life. Every time that I've pulled on the Ireland jersey, it has been a moment of incredible honour for both my family and I. But now, I feel it is time to step aside and let the next generation make their mark.

"Back in 2006, I could never have imagined that my international career would see me reach 100 caps when I made my debut at the Algarve Cup against Denmark. Despite only being 16 years of age, head coach Noel King believed in me and brought me into the senior squad. I will always be thankful to him for giving me the opportunity and platform to begin my international career.

"Of course, there will always be a tinge of sadness that we were never able to qualify for a major international tournament. We came close on a few occasions but it wasn't to be. I've no doubt that the work currently being done with the national team now will see them achieve that qualification in the future.

"Winning my 100th cap back in June against Norway will always be one of my proudest moments, despite the result. To get to lead the team out on that special occasion was a privilege and it was an incredible milestone to reach for my country. I've scored 13 goals during my international career and whilst I thoroughly enjoyed scoring each one, my goal against Portugal, in particular, is the one which will always stick out. It was such a difficult game against a tough team away from home and that goal kept our qualification hopes alive at the time.

"Not only have I enjoyed my time with the national team because of the football, but also because of my fantastic team-mates down the years. When I first came into the national team, the players I looked up to, like Olivia O'Toole, Ciara Grant and Yvonne Tracy, made me feel so welcome. It can be quite a daunting place to come into but I was able to learn so much from those players and it was a privilege to share a pitch with them. Emma Byrne was a fantastic captain over the many years we played together and also, I'd like to thank Stephanie Roche for being a fantastic best friend and room-mate, and for putting up with me!

"Now, as I look to the future, I'm determined to give something back to the game I love. I'm hoping to take my UEFA B Licence very soon and begin my journey in coaching. Having come through the player pathway myself, I think it's incredibly important to have the guidance of former players and I feel like my experiences could benefit future generations.

"I'm going to continue playing in the Women's National League with Peamount United and thoroughly enjoy my club football. It's been a fantastic club to me during my career and I'm looking forward to concentrating on my club football. I've always enjoyed playing in the league and I'm determined to lead Peamount back to the top of the table once again.

"I want to thank Noel King, Sue Ronan and Colin Bell, all the coaches and backroom staff throughout the years, and I wish the current team all the best for the future. There was so much progress made during the last qualifying campaign and the amount of young talent coming through the underage sides is a great sign for the future of the game in this country. I'll be the Women's National Team's biggest fan from now on and I'll be the first through the turnstile at Tallaght Stadium to cheer on the girls in green.

"Finally, I want to thank my family and friends. The support they've shown me over the years has been incredible and without them, all of this would not have been possible."

Bray People