On Friday, the Football Association of Ireland released the eighteen player roster for its Women’s National Team which will face the United States Women’s National Team in two friendlies, on November 28th (10:00 p.m. ET, FOX Soccer) and December 1st 9:30 p.m. ET, TV to be determined). The Republic of Ireland is bringing seven or six players* born in 1990 or later, including a few who were members of Ireland’s 2010 Under-17 Women’s National Team, which knocked off Germany in the UEFA semifinals and advanced to the quarterfinals of the 2010 Under-17 Women’s World Cup in Trinidad & Tobago. At least four of the eighteen players were born in the United States, all of whom who played collegiate soccer. At least three more players have also played NCAA soccer.
*See “The Two Ciara Grant(s)” under Roster Notes for an explanation of this uncertainty.
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THE TWO CIARA GRANT(S) – According to the write-up for the roster, the only uncapped player is midfielder Ciara Grant, who currently plays for Raheny United and was a member of Ireland’s 2010 U-17 WWC squad (FIFA.com). There is also a veteran defender/midfielder named Ciara Mary Grant, who is Ireland’s most experienced player, with over 100 caps (Wikipedia bio). The veteran Grant makes more sense, as she still appears to be active, having played in Ireland’s last Euro qualifier (UEFA.com), while the other Grant does not appear to even have a senior squad call-up.
PLAYERS BORN IN THE USA — Forward Fiona O’Sullivan, who played for the University of San Fransisco; sisters Mary Therese and Shannon McDonnell, who both played for the University of Illinois; and forward Shannon Smyth, who played at the University of Louisville.
OTHER AMERICAN CONNECTIONS — Canadian-born goalkeeper Eve Badana is a Freshman at Drexel University… Ireland native Diane Caldwell is a Hofstra alumna… Ireland native Meabh De Burca played for the University of New Haven.
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Offensively, the standout young player is 18 year-old DENISE O’SULLIVAN who scored both goals in her debut senior international match, a 2:0 win against Wales in Ireland’s opening match of this cycle’s UEFA Women’s Euro qualifying (September 2011) (FAI.ie). Overall, in Women’s Euro qualifying, she scored four goals in seven matches. O’Sullivan is the captain of Ireland’s U-19 WNT and is age-eligible for the 2014 U-20 Women’s World Cup. (Wikipedia bio)
One of Ireland’s most experienced players, 33 year-old goalkeeper EMMA BYRNE, has over 90 caps for Ireland and nearly 400 matches for her club squad, Arsenal Ladies.
Canadian-born goalkeeper EVE BADANA was a member of Canada’s 2010 Under-17 Women’s World Cup squad, but has been part of Ireland’s senior squad since at least September 2011. She has at least two senior international caps. Badana currently attends Drexel University in Philadelphia, where she just wrapped up her Freshman season for their women’s soccer team. (Drexel Athletics bio page, Wikipedia entry)
Defender DIANE CALDWELL played for Hofstra University’s women’s soccer team from 2006 to 2009 (Hofstra bio) and played for the University’s field hockey team in 2010 as a graduate student (Go Hofstra blog).
Defender MEGAN CAMPBELL is most notable for scoring the winning goal via a 30 yard free kick in a 2010 UEFA Women’s Under-17 Championship semifinal match against Germany* which sealed Ireland’s ticket to the 2010 U-17 WWC (TheJournal.ie – According to the article, Campbell appeared to have an offer from Central Connecticut State University, but is not on their team’s current roster.). [*Germany went on to win the Third Place match by defeating the Netherlands, thus qualify for the U-17 WWC as the third team from UEFA.]
Defender MARY THERESE McDONNELL (Illinois bio) and her sister, midfielder SHANNON McDONNELL (Illinois bio), were both born in Illinois and played collegiately for the University of Illinois (2004-2007). Mary Therese was a tri-captain her senior year for Illinois.
Midfielder MEABH DE BURCA played collegiate soccer at the University of New Haven (bio).
Forward RUESHA LITTLEJOHN is most notable for an off-the-field activity. In the Spring of 2012, the English FA banned Littlejohn for six Women’s Super League matches (IrishExaminer.com).
Five-foot ten-inch striker FIONA O’SULLIVAN was born in California and played for the University of San Fransisco. After college, she eventually found her way to playing professionally in Europe. First, in Sweden, then in France, and is currently in Germany, playing for SC Freiburg. (Wikipedia)
Forward SHANNON SMYTH was born in Milwaukee, Wisconsion, and played collegiately at the University of Louisville from 2005 to 2008 (Louisville bio).
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The Women’s Euro statistics in the below table, specifically the “EMP” and “EGS” columns are career statistics, which only includes qualifying and play-off matches, as the Republic of Ireland has never qualified for the final competition of the tournament. The “EMP” column denotes the number of matches played, while the “EGS” column lists the number of goals scored. These stats are included as a substitute for career statistics, which are not readily available.
As noted above, there may be some confusion on who the correct “Ciara Grant” is. Data for both possible Grants are included below, at the bottom of the table.
TABLE: Ireland’s Roster, With Women’s Euro Qualifying Stats
PLAYER P. D.O.B. AGE EMP EGS Badana, Eve GK 07/09/1993 19.4 0 0 Byrne, Emma GK 06/14/1979 33.5 30 0 Caldwell, Diane DF 09/11/1988 24.2 3 0 Campbell, Megan DF 06/28/1993 19.4 5 0 Fahey, Niamh DF 10/13/1987 25.1 16 0 McDonnell, Mary Therese DF 08/26/1986 26.3 4 0 Perry, Sophie DF 11/11/1986 26.0 5 0 Tracy, Yvonne DF 02/27/1981 31.8 22 1 De Burca, Meabh MF 08/11/1988 24.3 8 0 McDonnell, Shannon MF 09/28/1984 28.2 0 0 O'Sullivan, Denise MF 02/04/1994 18.8 7 4 Quinn, Louise MF 06/17/1990 22.5 8 0 Russell, Julie Ann MF 03/28/1991 21.7 8 1 Littlejohn, Ruesha FW 07/03/1990 22.4 3 0 O'Gorman, Aine FW 05/13/1989 23.5 15 1 O'Sullivan, Fiona FW 09/17/1986 26.2 7 1 Smyth, Shannon FW 06/22/1987 25.4 7 0 ------------------------------------------------------------ Grant, Ciara MF 06/11/1993 19.5 0 0 Grant, Ciara Mary MF 05/17/1978 34.5 36 6
Positions, birthdates, and Women’s Euro statistics are all taken from UEFA’s website, except for the junior Ciara Grant, whose birthdate is from FIFA.com.
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THE USWNT-IRELAND SERIES
All time, the USA is 8-0-0 against the Republic of Ireland, scoring 30 goals and allowing only 1. Six of those eight matches were part of various post-victory tours. Those tour matches include three friendlies in September 2008, which was the last time that the two squads have met.
In the prior five matches, the USA scored five goals every time, but in the last three meetings, Ireland allowed no more than 2 goals (scorelines of 2:0, 1:0, and 2:0).