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O'Gorman sets sights on qualification following comeback

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But Áine O’Gorman. Photo: Sportsfile

But Áine O’Gorman. Photo: Sportsfile

SPORTSFILE

But Áine O’Gorman. Photo: Sportsfile

Having to give up some work this week as a TV pundit, and also surrendering a seat on the FAI Council, could be seen as paying a high price for making one decision.

But Áine O'Gorman is just glad to be back in the fold as a Republic of Ireland international, ahead of a double header in the qualifiers for Euro 2021, even if her call to come out of retirement had a cost.

Still only 30, the Dubliner had quit international football in 2018, having reached the 100-cap mark. But this week she's involved with Vera Pauw's outfit as they prepare for Thursday's game at home to Greece and then a trip to Montenegro. She had been due to do analysis for Eir Sport for this week's game, but the microphone has been put away, the boots back on. "I was booked in for the match on Thursday," she says.

"I just texted and said, 'Sorry, my circumstances have changed'."

It was a similar story with her role as a member of the newly-expanded FAI Council. O'Gorman had been elected as one of the two reps from the players' union, the PFAI.

"There'd be a bit of a conflict of interest so I'll step back as long as I'm involved in the international setup," she says.

O'Gorman had been focusing on her club career, in the wake of an unusually early retirement after she won her 100th cap against Norway.

A combination of factors, including a tense relationship with the previous manager, led to her quitting.

"I had a little break and now I'm ready: back with a bang," O'Gorman explained.

"I think it's a really good environment to be in now. Everyone's really happy and positive and focused. We're clear in the way we're going to play."

A call from manager Pauw, and the lure of a first-ever qualification for a major finals at senior level, convinced her to don the green jersey again.

"After the new management came in, I probably started to get itchy feet. I was watching the girls play in Tallaght and it was something in the back of my mind, especially off the back of a good club season," she says.

"So when the opportunity presented itself, I grabbed it with two hands.

"There's a few injuries in the squad, so Vera gave me a shout and it was an opportunity I wasn't going to turn down. I'd probably regret it if I had," O'Gorman added ahead of a double header which will have a big say in the race for Euro 2021 qualification. Germany are streets ahead in the Group I table, with four wins from four games, 31 goals scored and none conceded. So they will clearly win the group.

However, Ireland are very much in contention for a playoff spot. Pauw's side is currently three points ahead of Greece.

"That's the breakthrough that everybody is looking for ever since you've been playing. It's the dream you have when you put on that Irish jersey, playing in a major tournament.

"We have the opportunity now to live that dream and make that breakthrough for all of the young players coming through."

Irish Independent