Irish captain Katie McCabe is hoping that the 3-2 win against Australia last month can help her side achieve lift-off when their World Cup qualification campaign kicks off against the second-best side in the world, Sweden, in Thursday’s sold-out Tallaght encounter.
reland should already have three points on board but after the postponement of their initial qualifier against Georgia, a trip to Helsinki to face Finland next week means they must open their campaign with ties against the top two seeds.
"That's what international football is about, testing yourself against the best, and no better way to start than against Sweden,” said Arsenal’s in-form star McCabe, speaking as the FAI announced a new sponsorship partnership with Cadbury’s.
"I’ve watched them during the summer in the Olympics, we know the quality they have.
"I'm absolutely confident in this squad and what we're capable of.
"Obviously we worked on certain things in the last camp against Australia and got the rewards, it's about working as best we can to get a positive result.
"I'm enjoying my football of course, it's been a great start to the season for Arsenal, it's been a pretty tight schedule but I'm hoping to bring that form into the next week and hopefully get results over the line.”
McCabe returned to her old haunts in Kilnamanagh and Raheny over the weekend as the FAI welcomed on board another major deal which will provide a boost to the emerging sport in this country.
"When I started playing the internationals in Tallaght, we were only getting a couple of hundred but you'd always feel their support, then see them after the game and give autographs, and even now you'd see those faces but even more now,” she said.
"It's nice to get that sold out ring going. I'd love to see more going when the restrictions lift. Hopefully we'll see Tallaght Stadium rocking on Thursday.”
McCabe appreciates that after missing out on the Euros in the UK next summer, her side must be doubly determined to break their major tournament break and reach the next World Cup finals.
"I came in 18, 19 at the time and we spoke about getting to a major tournament, always wanted to do it for the players, the Emma Byrnes, we still haven't done it and it's frustrating but I know where we're at in the journey.
"In the last qualifying campaign the games were tough, especially with Covid, but we've got used to playing in those stress situations against top teams and we're ready for Thursday.
"I think the confidence we can take from the Australia game, that's something we'll look at this week. We're confident in ourselves, we have great players and organisation, we'll prepare well and see what happens.”
Midfielder Roma McLaughlin has linked up with the Republic of Ireland’s Women's National Team squad ahead of their 2023 FIFA Women's World Cup qualifiers.
The Donegal native replaces forward Kyra Carusa who picked up a knock on club duty
Cadbury are due to take an active role in supporting the FAI’s strategy to continue to raise awareness and grow the women’s game in Ireland through acts of generosity, synonymous with the brand.
Cadbury, whose Irish manufacturing operation is based in Coolock, will seek to support women’s football at a grassroots level by enhancing club facilities while raising the profile of women’s players in Ireland.
Raheny United FC senior women’s side will be the first of many grassroots women’s teams around Ireland to receive funding from Cadbury in a bid to boost participation among women. The funding will provide the team with new kit and assist the club and players in covering running costs and fees for a year, making it more affordable for individuals to get involved in the sport.
Speaking at today’s partnership announcement, Managing Director of Mondelez Ireland, Eoin Kellett, said: “At Cadbury, we are delighted to announce our partnership with the Republic of Ireland Women’s National Team. We’ve seen the team go from strength to strength in recent years and are looking forward to supporting them as they aim to reach the World Cup in 2023 and beyond.
"We believe this partnership also bestows a responsibility upon us to help in growing the women’s game – a challenge we look forward to supporting the FAI in taking on.
"According to Nielsen research, 73% of the general population agree that greater visibility of women’s sports and athletes is crucial to grow women’s sport.
"This is something we will look to support the FAI in addressing through the enhancement of football facilities for women and raising the profile of the exemplary role models playing the sport.”
Also commenting on today’s partnership announcement, FAI CEO, Jonathan Hill, said: “We are delighted to be partnering with Cadbury at what is an exciting time for women’s sport in Ireland. There have been significant strides taken, both on & off the pitch, in recent times and we are continuing to develop all areas of the game in order to improve structures, increase participation and enhance the profile of women’s players in Ireland, which is in line with the 2022-2025 Draft FAI Strategy.
“Cadbury is a world-renowned brand who will bring a huge amount to this partnership to help us continue to move forward as we aim to affect women’s football from all levels – Grassroots all the way up to the Republic of Ireland Women’s National Team. It is exciting to launch this partnership ahead of our 2023 FIFA Women’s World Cup qualifying campaign and we look forward to working closely with Cadbury.”
To mark the launch of Cadbury as an Official Partner of the Ireland Women’s team, captain Katie McCabe visited her old club Raheny United, whose senior women’s side will be the first of many grassroots women’s teams around Ireland to receive funding from Cadbury in a bid to boost participation among women.