AMBER Barrett’s place in Irish football history is assured after she scored the historic goal to send the country’s women’s team through to their first ever World Cup.
It was a truly remarkable match-winning contribution from the Milford woman who gave her team a narrow play-off win over Scotland.
However, her post-match interview was even more stunning as she found the composure in her moment of glory to dedicate the result to the ‘ten beautiful souls who unfortunately perished’ in the Creeslough tragedy, just a few days earlier.
There has been a huge amount of good will from near and far since then, and she will cherish the memory of the goal and that night in Glasgow forever, even if the focus has now moved onto the World Cup itself this summer in Australia and New Zealand.
“It was an amazing moment,” said the affable Barrett, as she collected the Donegal Sports Star Award for October in conjunction with Brian McCormick Sports & Leisure.
“I probably do think about it a wee bit less now.
“For the first few weeks, it was one of those where you felt you had to pinch yourself to make sure it really happened.
“After that, you adjust and the attention turns to the World Cup and the preparations.
“But it was lovely over Christmas being home and celebrating the success with people I hadn’t seen.
“I took all the congratulations and enjoyed them but since I’ve come back over, it’s all about pushing on and making sure I make the squad and can contribute as best as I can.”
Barrett was given her chance off the bench at Hampden Park with the game delicately poised.
She used a great touch to control the ball, raced through and then finished smartly to the bottom corner.
“I think with any team you’re involved in, the most important thing is that you feel a part of it.
“The big compliment to our squad is that for pretty much everyone there is that opportunity to play if you can raise your game to a suitable level.
“I was very grateful to get the opportunity especially as I am not a guaranteed starter.
“I was delighted to score the goal and every bit of progress I can make is something that you take on board.”
Ireland will face Australia in their World Cup opener on July 20, and they will then take on Canada six days later before concluding their group with a fixture against Nigeria.
The Australia game has been moved from Sydney Football Stadium which has a capacity of 42,500 to Stadium Australia which holds 83,500.
Barrett says her family and friends are looking to ‘break out their communion and confirmation money’ to secure flights down under.
It’s a hugely exciting time but she’s not wishing away the months.
“To be honest yes I am happy to wait because I’m coming back from injury at the moment and I’m not near fit enough yet!
“It is very exciting to be looking forward to the World Cup and even getting the news that the stadium was changed was huge.
“It’s now double the size which just shows the demands for tickets.
“There are so many Irish people over there looking for tickets, and even family members so hopefully everyone can get sorted.
“I don’t want to say a World Cup is a once-in-a-lifetime experience, but you want to make the most of it.
“There’s so much to enjoy from the build-up to the training to the pre-game and everything else. It’s going to be a life-changing experience.”
It was confirmed this week that Ireland will play France at Tallaght Stadium in July 6 in a farewell game before the World Cup.
However, a lot can happen before then and Ireland will hold a training camp in Marbella this month and it will include a friendly against China PR. Barrett has been included in the squad for that trip.
Staying fit and in-form is now paramount for all players.
“Absolutely everybody has to perform.
“I don’t think there are too many players in the squad that would say they are definitely going. It’s football and anything can happen and that’s all part of it as well.
“You have to give yourself the best opportunity to make the squad.
“From my point of view, the best opportunity is by scoring goals.
“I need to get up to speed again and keep working and improving and everyone will be putting everything they have into it for the next six months.”
Barrett now plays her club football with Turbine Potsdam in the Bundesliga.
They are currently bottom of the table but are hoping to improve their fortunes.
“We’re only half-way through the season so there are 12 games to go.
“Vera (Pauw) keeps a close eye. She would be looking at videos and clips and even some of the friendlies we would have played
“She keeps an eye on everyone to make sure they are working on the little pointers that she gives because everyone needs to be performing to a suitable level.
“I really enjoy it here. It’s (Potsdam) a beautiful city and the team and environment and everything is great.
“Our league position could be a bit better so that is something we have to work on.”
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