The recall of forward Stephanie Roche is one of the main talking points after Republic of Ireland women’s national team manager Vera Pauw unveiled her 27-strong selection for a forthcoming friendly against the Philippines and a crunch World Cup qualifier away to Georgia.
Despite having 55 senior caps to her name – and a tally of 15 goals to go with it – Roche hasn’t featured at international level since November 2019. The Shankill native was plying her trade for Italian outfit CF Florentia back then, but has since rejoined Peamount United in the Women’s National League and helped the Dublin club to complete a domestic double in 2020.
She is joined in the squad by her Peamount team-mate Aine O’Gorman, who is one of seven Irish-based players to make the cut for the upcoming matches. Reigning WNL champions Shelbourne have no fewer than five representatives in the set-up – defenders Jessica Ziu, Jessie Stapleton and Chloe Mustaki, as well as forwards Abbie Larkin and Saoirse Noonan.
There is a first senior call-up for goalkeeper Naoisha McAloon, who joined English Championship side Durham from Peamount at the beginning of the year. She is one of three uncapped players in the squad with Stapleton and Lily Agg also included after previously spending time in the senior camp.
Wexford Youths pair Aoibheann Clancy and Ellen Molloy have been ruled out of contention for the current window as they are currently sitting their Leaving Certificate examinations, while the likes of Savannah McCarthy, Megan Campbell, Aoife Colvill, Rianna Jarrett, Leanne Kiernan and Kyra Carusa are currently sidelined through injury.
Nonetheless, Pauw is still able to pick a squad that is packed with experience. O’Gorman and Niamh Fahey are already international centurions, while Louise Quinn (94) and Denise O’Sullivan (93) are on the cusp of joining this elite group.
Although Ireland will face the Philippines in an international friendly encounter on Sunday – which forms part of a training camp in Antalya, Turkey – their June 27th showdown with Georgia at the Tengiz Burjanadze Stadium in Gori is the most important date on the calendar.
Should Pauw’s charges come out on top in this fixture, they will move into the play-off spot in Group A with two games left to play. Given they recorded a record-breaking 11-0 win over the Georgians when the two sides clashed in Tallaght last November, the Katie McCabe-led Irish will be strong favourites to take command of second place.
Republic of Ireland WNT Squad
Goalkeepers: Courtney Brosnan (Everton), Megan Walsh (Brighton & Hove Albion), Grace Moloney (Reading), Naoisha McAloon (Durham).
Defenders: Jessica Ziu (Shelbourne), Louise Quinn (Birmingham City), Niamh Fahey (Liverpool), Diane Caldwell (Manchester United), Claire O’Riordan (MSV Duisburg), Jessie Stapleton (Shelbourne), Éabha O’Mahony (Boston College), Áine O’Gorman (Peamount United), Chloe Mustaki (Shelbourne).
Midfielders: Katie McCabe (Arsenal), Denise O’Sullivan (North Carolina Courage), Megan Connolly (Brighton & Hove Albion), Ruesha Littlejohn (Aston Villa), Jamie Finn (Birmingham City), Ciara Grant (Hearts), Lily Agg (London City Lionesses), Roma McLaughlin (Connecticut Fusion), Lucy Quinn (Birmingham City).
Forwards: Heather Payne (Florida State University), Amber Barrett (FC Koln), Abbie Larkin (Shelbourne), Stephanie Roche (Peamount United), Saoirse Noonan (Shelbourne).