Friday 14 December 2018

Bright Amber spells red alert for Wexford

Amber Barrett. Photo: Tony Gavina
Amber Barrett. Photo: Tony Gavina

John Fallon

Previous match-winners Katie McCabe and Leanne Kiernan have shown the FAI women's Cup final can represent a precursor to a move abroad but Amber Barrett won't rush to flee the country after Sunday's decider.

The Donegal native, as top scorer in the league for the past two seasons, will be main Peamount United threat Wexford have to thwart at Lansdowne Road for their ambitions of a double to be realised.

Barrett is still only 22 and has this academic year to go studying at Dublin City University to attain her master's degree in education.

Instead of marching the school corridors, she could be roaming on the pitch of a professional club in the UK next year based upon the strides made for club and country in the last 12 months.

The striker was one of the success stories in Colin Bell's first campaign at the helm as Ireland women's team manager.

From her competitive debut in the opening game against Northern Ireland, Barrett was relied upon to make an impact either starting or from the bench.

Her late winner against Slovakia in April kept the Girls in Green in the mix for a World Cup play-off spot heading into the business end.

Plotting a career on the domestic scene, however, is not feasible, given how poorly funded the women's game remains. Showcasing your talent at the national stadium, on live television, is one method of attracting attention from foreign suitors.

McCabe wasn't long waiting for an approach by Arsenal after helping Raheny United win the 2014 Cup final and has since progressed to become Ireland captain.

Likewise, the prodigious talents of Leanne Kiernan were there for all the appreciate two years ago when the teen's hat-trick claimed the trophy for Shelbourne. The Cavan native is now a regular for West Ham United in the top tier of English football.

Barrett, with 30 league goals, including seven hat-tricks, and the winner in the semi-final win over Shels, could be Ireland's next export. With college assignments to occupy her time between training and matches, time for her mind to drift into wanderlust mode has been limited.

"I've had no contact from clubs but I know people are watching," said the Milford native, who represented Donegal in the Ladies GAA championship. "The main thing is getting my master's and I'll take it from there. It doesn't always work out going to England."

Although Wexford retained their league title, losing just one game along the way, Peamount prevailed against them in the League Cup final in September.

With recently-retired Ireland internationals áine O'Gorman and Karen Duggan adding more experience, they'll fancy lifting a trophy they last won in 2010.

Supplying Barrett with the service to strike will be key.

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