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‘It is a real honour and privilege’ – Brighton’s Megan Walsh delighted to answer Pauw’s Ireland call

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Goalkeeper Megan Walsh during an Ireland training session at the FAI National Training Centre in Abbotstown, Dublin. Photo: Stephen McCarthy/Sportsfile

Goalkeeper Megan Walsh during an Ireland training session at the FAI National Training Centre in Abbotstown, Dublin. Photo: Stephen McCarthy/Sportsfile

Goalkeeper Megan Walsh during an Ireland training session at the FAI National Training Centre in Abbotstown, Dublin. Photo: Stephen McCarthy/Sportsfile

Vera Pauw’s Ireland have rubber-stamped the addition of Megan Walsh to her squad for this month’s 2023 FIFA Women's World Cup qualifiers against Slovakia and Georgia.

Having represented England at Under-17, U-19 & U-23 level, the experienced goalkeeper required international clearance from FIFA to make the switch and become eligible for selection by Ireland manager Pauw.

The Brighton & Hove Albion stopper - who holds the WSL record for most saves - qualifies for Ireland through her Wexford-born Grandfather, William Walsh, and finally got the green light.

"It is a real honour and privilege to be called up into the Ireland squad. I was with Rianna Jarrett, Denise O'Sullivan and Megan Connolly at Brighton last year when my Irish heritage came up and things went from there," said Walsh.

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Megan Walsh in action for Brighton

Megan Walsh in action for Brighton

Megan Walsh in action for Brighton

"It has taken about 12 months to finally get here. I am excited at the opportunity to be part of the Irish Women's Team and to work with Vera.

"My Grandparents, on my Dad's side, were from Enniscorthy, County Wexford, where we still have family. I know they would be so proud of me being part of the Women's National Team."

Originally from Bromsgrove, Walsh started out in the Aston Villa Centre of Excellence before starting her professional career with the same club in 2011.

The 27-year-old has since lined out for Everton, Notts County, Yeovil Town and Brighton & Hove Albion, where she has been a regular starter since 2019.

Walsh reported into Ireland camp following Sunday's game away to Reading, where she was up against Grace Moloney who is one of the other goalkeepers, along with Courtney Brosnan, in the current squad.

"I realise I will have to fight hard for a place on the team but that’s always the case in elite football and I have had to do that wherever I have been in football," said Walsh.

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"The main thing is to qualify for the World Cup and I know all the squad will want to make sure we get out of the Group."

Midfielder Jess Ziu has also been added to the squad after the earlier additions of 16-year-old Shelbourne defender Jessie Stapleton, Celtic's Isibeal Atkinson and Birmingham City forward Emily Whelan.

Stapleton is included for the first time following an impressive debut season in the SSE Airtricity Women's National League and stand-out performances at Ireland training sessions.

She was player of the month for October and featured three times for the Irish Under-19s last month.

Injuries rule out Glasgow City's Claire Walsh, Wexford Youths midfielder Ellen Molloy, who starred for her team in the victory over Shels in Sunday’s FAI Cup final, and Liverpool forward Leanne Kiernan.

The squad will train at the FAI National Training Centre on Monday afternoon ahead of taking on Slovakia on Thursday November 25 and then Georgia on Tuesday November 30 - both at Tallaght Stadium.

Both games are live on RTÉ2 and RTÉ Player.

Third seeds Ireland have made a solid start to their Group A qualifying campaign, recording a 1-0 home defeat to world second seeds Sweden and winning 2-1 at higher-ranked Finland.

Republic of Ireland squad

Goalkeepers: Courtney Brosnan (Everton), Grace Moloney (Reading), Megan Walsh (Brighton & Hove Albion).

Defenders: Louise Quinn (Birmingham City), Niamh Fahey (Liverpool), Diane Caldwell (North Carolina Courage), Jessie Stapleton (Shelbourne), Savannah McCarthy (Galway WFC), Éabha O'Mahony (Boston College), Áine O'Gorman (Peamount United).

Midfielders: Katie McCabe (Arsenal), Denise O'Sullivan (North Carolina Courage), Megan Connolly (Brighton & Hove Albion), Ruesha Littlejohn (Aston Villa), Jamie Finn (Birmingham City), Niamh Farrelly (Glasgow City), Ciara Grant (Shelbourne), Aoibheann Clancy (Wexford Youths), Roma McLaughlin (Central Connecticut State University), Jess Ziu (Shelbourne).

Forwards: Heather Payne (Florida State University), Amber Barrett (FC Koln), Kyra Carusa (HB Koge), Emily Whelan (Birmingham City) Isibeal Atkinson (Celtic), Saoirse Noonan (Shelbourne), Lucy Quinn (Birmingham City).


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