Monday 16 September 2019

'If you like to use the term, 'dinosaur'' - McCabe hits back at Souness over referee comments

Katie McCabe was joined by her sister Lauryn and Holly Gobbet (11), who both play for Kilnamanagh AFC U-13s, at the launch of Boots Ireland’s three-year sponsorship of the Ireland women’s team. Photo: INPHO
Katie McCabe was joined by her sister Lauryn and Holly Gobbet (11), who both play for Kilnamanagh AFC U-13s, at the launch of Boots Ireland’s three-year sponsorship of the Ireland women’s team. Photo: INPHO

Aidan Fitzmaurice

For Katie McCabe, the fact that her recent decision to 'come out' and the revelation that she is in a longterm relationship with a team-mate from the international side passed without comment was a welcome sign that Ireland had moved on.

But not everyone in 2019 is so enlightened and the Ireland captain has hit out at the "dinosaurs" from the pundit brigade who struggle to take women's football seriously.

TV viewing figures for the summer World Cup in France were impressive, the all-female refereeing team for last week's European Super Cup was a boost to the women's game as a whole, and from an Irish viewpoint, there is hope that the senior side can deal with the vacuum created by the lack of a manager for the team, just two weeks out from the start of the Euro 2021 qualifiers, and make a push for qualification.

But some remain to be convinced. Liverpool legend Graeme Souness queried the decision to appoint that female team to the Super Cup while former England boss Glenn Hoddle wondered, aloud on TV, if ref Stephanie Frappart and her assistants (including Irishwoman Michelle O'Neill) would be able to "keep up" with the pace in extra-time.

"Obviously I don't like hearing it," says McCabe. "If you like to use the term, 'dinosaur.' I definitely think they should maybe come out and watch a few more women's games and see we're not as bad as they think.

"Those comments just show their attitudes towards women's officials and football, even looking back at Alex Scott last season putting it up to Graeme Souness in terms of their on-screen relationship.

"She was able to say everything back to him because she has such knowledge of the game. She has such experience. When Sky Sports get more players like that on the TV, it will definitely help our image as women's footballers," added the Tallaght native.

Of more immediate concern to team captain McCabe and her team-mates is the impending start of the Euro 2021 qualifiers.

The Irish side face Montenegro in their opening qualifier, in Dublin, in just 13 days' time but more than eight weeks after the surprise resignation of Colin Bell, the manager's hot seat remains vacant, with no indication of a replacement.

Bell must now surely regret his decision to quit his FAI role and take up a post as assistant manager at Huddersfield Town as boss Jan Siewert was sacked less than a month into the new season last Friday. Bell's status at the club remains unclear.

But a successor as Ireland manager has yet to be found and Tom O'Connor, who filled in as caretaker for a friendly in the USA earlier this month, will also be in the dugout for the Montenegro game in a fortnight.

Former manager Dave Connell has been linked with the post but McCabe says the appointment cannot be rushed.

"I think the FAI are taking the right amount of time needed to find the best person for us to take us forward," McCabe reasoned. "I know before Colin came in, that was a long process as well. And this will be a long process. The time isn't really a concern for me, I know they're doing all they can."

Irish Independent

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