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‘To play for Ireland was a dream that came true’ – Sinéad Farrelly retires from international football

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The US-born player made her debut in April 2023 and played in eight games overall, including all three of Ireland’s at the 2023 FIFA Women’s World Cup and in three UEFA Nations League fixtures.

Her calm authority on the ball has been a feature of her sadly short-lived career in green and, in her absence, Ireland have notably struggled to attain any semblance of control in that area.

Eligible through her Cavan-born father, Farrelly is still contracted to NJ/NY Gotham in the NWSL, but a series of niggling injuries, and the physical exertions of transatlantic travel, have conspired to hamper her.

A back spasm prevented her from linking up with the squad earlier this year and, despite both player and manager expressing optimism about her future involvements, the 34-year-old has decided to bow out.

Given her extraordinary back story, that the once-touted US star ever got the opportunity to play international football at all will comfort her as much as it did Ireland supporters who wallowed in her cool conviction.

Today’s Sport News in 90 Seconds – 29th April

In 2021, Farrelly and fellow North Carolina Courage player Mia Shim went public to describe in detail the various acts of sexual misconduct and coercion, including allegations she was forced to have sex with their former coach, Paul Riley, with Shim, and then all three at once.

She had also suffered a serious car crash in 2015, which prompted her retirement for a year in 2016, before making an emotional comeback to the sport with Gotham FC; 12 months ago, former Irish boss Vera Pauw recruited her to the Irish cause, debuting on the two-game tour to the US.

The sexual abuse had effectively destroyed any chances she had of fulfilling the predictions of many who had deemed her a future USA star. That she managed to play on the biggest stage of them, all, for the land of her father, was one of 2023’s most remarkable sporting tales.

“It is with a tremendous amount of sadness that I’ve made the difficult decision to retire from international football,” Farrelly said in a statement released by the FAI.

“Even though I was a late-comer to international football, it meant so much to me and my family. To pull on the Ireland jersey, sing the national anthem and represent the Farrelly family from Cavan (and beyond) was truly special.

“I’d like to thank Vera Pauw and Eileen Gleeson, all of the backroom and support staff, every player who I was proud to call a teammate and, of course, the amazing Irish supporters who welcomed me with open arms.

“To play for Ireland was a dream that came true and it is an experience that I will cherish forever. I got to play in a World Cup, but more than that, I got to play for this country and I’m just so grateful for having that opportunity because it is one of the greatest honours of my career.

“I will continue to support the team and will always hold close the fantastic memories that I made playing for Ireland.”

Farrelly’s father, Seán, hails from Virginia in Cavan.

Irish boss Eileen Gleeson commented: “I’d like to thank Sinéad for her time representing Ireland and we wish her the very best in her career going forward.”

Farrelly indicated last year that she was keen to help Ireland reach next year’s European Championships in Switzerland, for which it seems likely an autumn play-off will be required given they sit bottom of their extremely difficult Nations League group.

Farrelly had also dispelled any rumours of discontent with Ireland captain Katie McCabe following the latter’s highly publicised sideline spat with Pauw in the final game of last year’s World Cup against Nigeria.

Pauw suggested in a press conference following the game against Nigeria that captain McCabe’s angry insistence on introducing “fresh legs” had been a reference to Farrelly.

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