Farrelly happy to keep on 'track' to help Euro prospects
Niamh Farrelly doesn't mind operating a tracking device if it helps Ireland bridge the gap within the two-tier women's international football hierarchy.
The FAI remain at a competitive disadvantage by the absence of a professional league, a deficit senior boss Colin Bell has tried to address by improving the conditioning of his part-time personnel.
That entails them working from agreed training schedules, both in the gym and with their clubs, and a tracker has been introduced to monitor the workload.
Farrelly, as a first-year student sports science student in Dublin City University, has dedicated herself to eventually becoming a professional and welcomes the rigour she's now subjected to.
"I noticed the difference playing against the bigger nations at underage tournaments," said the Peamount United midfielder now promoted to Bell's senior squad.
"Holland thrashed our U-19 side 8-1 last season but their players are programmed to train every day. They live and work with each other. Our international squad only get together once a week, so we've to build fitness levels outside of camp.
"The Metrifit applications allows us log what activities we've been doing every day for the manager and medical staff to view. All of the underage international squads are using it now which is brilliant because we had to raise standards."
That's been the battle cry of Bell since his appointment two years ago. It resulted in a promising start to his first World Cup campaign as Ireland claimed 10 points from their first four games, including a draw against European champions Holland away from home. The second half of the qualifiers disappointed, meaning Ireland remain without a major tournament appearance at senior level.
Germany are certainties to claim the one guaranteed spot in the Euro 2021 from their group, which kicks off in September against Montenegro in Cork. Second spot, however, is up for grabs, given they have drawn Ukraine, a nation that claimed the same amount of points (13) as Ireland in the last campaign.
"My goal was to get into squad and now I want to keep my place," Farrelly explains. "Then, I'd look to push on for a place in the team.
"Ireland have never reached a major senior tournament and I know how much that would mean to women's football in Ireland. We'll have to knock a big gun out to qualify for the Euros but we're capable of doing it." The FAI and Aviva have announced a revamped Soccer Sisters programme, which will see up to 6,000 girls aged between 6 and 14 learn and play football for free over the Easter holidays this year. For more information, see www.soccersisters.ie