‘I never would have thought that I could be playing against the US in America’

Abbie Larkin of Shamrock Rovers during the SSE Airtricity Women's Premier Division match between Shamrock Rovers and Wexford Youths

Sean O'Connor

Shamrock Rovers forward Abbie Larkin admits she never would have believed she could be facing four-time Women’s World Cup winners United States.

The 17-year-old made her Ireland debut in February 2022 and netted her first senior goal in last June’s 9-0 win over Georgia, and she's in contention to earn her latest call up when manager Vera Pauw names her squad tomorrow for the upcoming trip to the United States.

Larkin says the double-header (April 8 and April 12) will be a good opportunity to see where the team is at heading into Ireland's first finals in Australia and New Zealand, and while the Ringsend native is aware there are no guarantees, she believes she has started the season well with the Hoops.

“Obviously you can’t be certain of things but I thought I played well in the last few games,” said Larkin, after Rovers extended their unbeaten start to the season with a 2-1 win over Wexford Youths on Wednesday evening.

“You never know what will happen, but fingers crossed I’m in the squad. It would be unbelievable. I never would have thought that I could be playing against the US in America.

“It’s going to be an unbelievable experience for the team. The girls are going to want to play and get a boost going into the World Cup. The US are a top class team so it will be a battle, but the girls are excited and it will set us up for the opening game against Australia in Sydney.”

Hoops forward Áine O’Gorman netted her third of the season against Wexford, assisted by Larkin, and hopes to be included too, while Pauw anxiously awaits scan results on captain Katie McCabe who left the Emirates Stadium in a protective boot last night following an injury.

“Look, everyone wants to be on the plane with the World Cup coming up, but you just have to keep focusing on every training session and every game and hopefully do enough to be in the squad,” added O’Gorman.

Rovers’ victory over Youths took them to joint-second with champions Shelbourne in the Women’s Premier Division, and two points off leaders Peamount United heading into the international break.

Larkins says that while Collie O’Neill’s new-look side are still gelling, they were pleased with the three points at Tallaght Stadium.

“We knew it would be a tough game as Wexford are a top club. We’re a new team and have worked so hard for this, so I think we deserved the three points,” said Larkin, who was one of six players to sign from Shelbourne over the off-season.

“We have worked our socks off. Sligo Rovers was a tough game (2-1 win ) as we were just gelling together at that point. We played Shels (1-1) and that was another tough game, but we proved ourselves against Wexford.

“It’s been amazing here, it's such a homely club. Training is top class too and that’s what I came here for, the facilities as well. Its shown in what we could do on Wednesday.”

O’Gorman’s 65th-minute strike proved to be the difference, and although she admitted it wasn’t the Hoops’ finest display, she praised her side’s character to see out the win.

“We probably didn’t have our best game but we’re delighted with the result,” added the 113-cap forward.

“We showed our resilience and character to get the result. Obviously it’s our first season together but we have great young talent, so it’s a good mix of youth and experience and we’ll keep gelling.

“It’s so far so good. We’re just trying to instil Collie’s philosophy week on week. I’m really enjoying it. Shamrock Rovers are one of the best clubs in the country with such good resources so we are looked after very well.”

“I hope both of them are in contention (for a call up). Both of them are just two top pros. If they get called up to the senior squad, it would be absolutely no surprise to me,” added Rovers boss Collie O’Neill.

“I guess it’s a good sign when you don’t play overly well but are still winning. The quality of the goals were very good but we're looking for that on a more consistent basis.

“I’m not looking anywhere near the league table. All we’re concentrating on is getting good performances. If that gets us there in the end great, if not, it’s a work in progress.”