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Vera Pauw speaking to the media this morning. Ryan Byrne/INPHO
Women's World Cup

'I’ve broken dreams. It’s so hard for them because that World Cup will not come back'

Vera Pauw named her Ireland squad this morning.

VERA PAUW SAYS her call to leave Jamie Finn out of the Ireland squad for the World Cup was the hardest decision.

The Republic of Ireland manager revealed her final 23 this morning ahead of the tournament in Australia, which commences next month.

As reported by The 42 last night, defensive duo Aoife Mannion and Megan Campbell lost their respective races against time, while Finn and Leanne Kiernan were headline omissions.

“It’s been devastating days,” said Pauw, visibly upset at times, at the UCD Bowl this morning.

“It’s not so much celebrating the squad, it’s more the pain we all feel of leaving players out. I’ve broken dreams. It’s so hard for them because that World Cup will not come back.

“Yesterday was the worst day of my career. And hopefully from today onwards, it will become the best day of my career.”

While Liverpool striker Kiernan will play no part, Finn has been restricted to a training player role. The Birmingham City player featured heavily throughout the qualifying campaign, but appears to have fallen down the pecking order in recent months. Despite her impressive club form, she did not play a minute for Ireland in 2023.

“That has been the hardest, hardest decision,” Pauw explained. “She’s been part of that squad all of the time but we’ve changed our playing system. We have Kyra Carusa as a target player and we brought Heather Payne to the right side, with pace on the wing. There’s also players who have jumped up levels. These options mean you have to take tough decisions.

jamie-finn-celebrates-at-the-final-whistle Jamie Finn celebrating Ireland's win over Scotland last year. Ryan Byrne / INPHO Ryan Byrne / INPHO / INPHO

“Jamie, especially because she played and the credit that she has, we’ve got every single video moment of her, also in the last two weeks. You’ve seen Jamie has not been involved in the last few games. That’s tactical. It’s not because of her. That’s elite sport, that’s football, as much as we wanted her to be part of it.

“I’m so happy that she’s still part of our squad, that’s she’s travelling with us, that she, together with Harriet Scott, be a full member of the squad at every moment. It’s so important that Jamie and Harriet are involved.”

Pauw admitted that both Mannion and Campbell had ‘no chance’ of making the final squad. Mannion sustained a knee setback in training with Manchester United and was omitted from the extended training squad, while long-throw specialist Campbell has struggled with fitness of late. Both were largely absent from recent training camps.

Speaking specifically on Mannion, who impressed through her two caps to date in 2023 Pauw explained: “Not close at all. Zero chance. And that’s devastating.

“She flew in on Monday to have this last talk with medical staff, myself, with her. It was a very clear talk, she was very strong. We went back to all the specialists. ‘Is there any opening?…’

“But the full 11 contact would be just before the Australia game, or between the Australia and Canada games. That would be the first minutes of 11-a-side on the pitch, and that is too late.

“Unfortunately time ran out. She could play five minutes maybe in the second or third game, but that’s not enough for World Cup selection.”

Pauw also spoke about injury-prone Megan Campbell’s omission. “She will get fit again, but unfortunately there was no chance. With her throw you would even go maybe for 15 minutes, but even that… there was no chance. The risk would have been too big and she would not have been ready to fully go into the World Cup.”

megan-campbell Megan Campbell. Ryan Byrne / INPHO Ryan Byrne / INPHO / INPHO

Kiernan recently returned from a lengthy lay-off with a horrific ankle injury. She had shown glimpses of brilliance in last week’s friendly against Zambia and appeared sharp in training, but Pauw favoured Carusa, Abbie Larkin, Marissa Sheva and Amber Barrett  in attack.

“Leanne, unfortunately it’s the football fitness that’s part of that. We all know that she only played 30 minutes in a year, and then 45 minutes (v Zambia). We have given her the chance to fully train and to be with us. She did well.

“But the data showed that the time between explosive actions were already getting longer during the first half. That means that if other players are performing at a higher level, then technically you have to take that decision because it’s World Cup level. It’s even twice as high a level as what we had against Zambia. It’s just that bit too early, unfortunately.”

Sheva joins fellow US-born Sinead Farrelly in the squad, and the plan was always to include both. “You’ve seen her quality,” Pauw noted on Farrelly.

“USA game, first cap into a squad completely new, being so dominant. Remember she has done everything herself and after she got her passport we got contact, so her heart is she wants to be here. That was before we qualified that she started the process.

“We’ve had many players been dumped on my desk in my email then that try to jump on the bandwagon because there’s a World Cup that we qualified for. We did not go into that, we only went for the players who were there and fully, with a full heart.

“Sinead only get in contact after she got her passport, Marissa, before we qualified already that was process was going on. And the only thing that we helped with was the the clearance for playing for Ireland.” 

The Dutch native explained that the Zambia friendly had a big bearing on Barrett, Ciara Grant, Claire O’Riordan and Izzy Atkinson making the final cut. West Ham left-sided player Atkinson pipped Peamount United Leaving Cert student Tara O’Hanlon at the post.

vera-pauw Ireland manager Vera Pauw. Ryan Byrne / INPHO Ryan Byrne / INPHO / INPHO

Pauw has also opted to bring four goalkeepers. Sophie Whitehouse joins Finn as another of three training players, while Grace Moloney and Megan Walsh are named alongside number one Courtney Brosnan in the 23.

“The rules and regulations are that you have to have three goalkeepers on the team sheet. So if there’s a goalkeeper on matchday minus one that gets injured, we will not have three goalkeeper son the team sheet.

“So we have to bring an extra goalkeeper as a training player. If we didn’t have the decision from Fifa to be able to bring training players, we would have brought a goalkeeper anyway but not part of the squad – to be there in Australia because you cannot fly in a goalkeeper at the last moment.

“If the World Cup had been in Europe you could fly in a goalkeeper, but not in Europe. There’s another issue, when we’re there we must play seven-a-side so for training purposes you have to have four goalkeepers.”

Written by Emma Duffy and posted on

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