Sinead Farrelly makes first appearance in Ireland more than six years after retiring from football, shares way back

On Saturday, Sinead Farrelly made her international debut for Ireland against the United States. Her switch to the Irish Women’s National Team was only announced on Friday, and it came as a shock to many — while she’d been training with the Girls in Green all week in Texas, the trip had been largely under the radar. Twenty-four hours later, she played 60 minutes in a 2-0 loss to the USWNT.

A player changing national teams tends to be a story, but Farrelly’s journey to play for Ireland is more remarkable than most. Farrelly returned to the NWSL after being signed by NJ/NY Gotham FC last March, nearly eight years after her previous league appearance in 2015. She was forced to retire in 2016 after a car accident, but another major reason her playing career ended early wasn’t made public until much later. Farrelly along with the former thorns Teammate Mana Shim, then-Portland coach Paul Riley was accused of coercion and sexual harassment at the club story on the athlete Published September 2021.

In the tunnel at Q2 Stadium, dressed in Team Ireland sports gear and needing to catch the bus for their trip to St. Louis, Farrelly was smiling in the mixed zone.

“I’m so tired,” she said. “Very happy, excited – obviously we wanted to win – but I’m really proud of the team. I’m also very tired.”

After joking that she expected to collapse within an hour of the climax of the game and her debut for Ireland, she focused on the bigger picture of her feelings of joining the team.

“I feel very supported here and this journey back into football has been quite frankly crazy,” she said. “I just try to stay centered and steady, and be in my body.”

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While she looked confident and ready in her NJ/NY Gotham FC debut upon her return to the NWSL, the casual viewer of her performance for Ireland on Saturday would never know she made the decision to only try again less than a year ago.

“In July, I decided I wanted to do this,” Farrelly said Saturday. “I was lifting, I was trying to run, I was at zero — I wasn’t doing anything.”

I hired a coach. Two months before the start of preparation for the NWSL season, she returned to playing pick-up. Then, she said, “I was thrown into the preseason,” and she did double days. She has said several times that she is still managing her pregnancy during this phase of her return, even now.

“Once the season started, it was like you’re in this and you can either get caught or you can’t,” she said. “I was crying every single day because I was like, ‘I can’t do this.'” “I actually felt really hard, physically and mentally, all of that stuff.”

Once she got over the initial shock of a demanding NWSL season, once she felt her body had adjusted, once she felt free to play, then something opened up. “But there was definitely a very, very high climb to get to that point,” Farrelly said.

As for Ireland, “it was always an option,” Farrelly said.

She played for the US youth teams, and was called up to the US National Team camps Before the 2011 World Cup With potential existing spot on line.

On Friday, the FAI announced that FIFA had agreed to swap her, and Farrelly wasted no time in making an impression.

“She’s only been here a few days, but it was really in training that she was an outstanding player to be quite honest,” Ireland’s Denise O’Sullivan said on Friday. “Her calmness on the ball is different from everyone on the team. Her ability to go into space, in the half-turn, she’s an excellent player with the ball at her feet.”

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Farrelly’s first touches in Saturday’s game confirmed this – she seemed relieved against pressure first from Andy Sullivan, then Sophia Smith.

Sinead Farrelly advanced the ball while Sophia Smith tucked away. (Photo: Brad Smith/USSF/Getty Images).

It is possible that the door has been opened for the World Cup team. Farrelly laughed and said that of course she was ready and willing to go, but that wasn’t her main focus right now.

“I don’t want to lose sight of why I’m back playing. It was just having the game back in my life, feeling that happy and passionate again, and not wanting to attach (myself) to any results.”

The pressures and expectations on the players will only rise in a World Cup year. Trying to balance the normal emotional battles of playing a sport at the highest level with Farrelly’s return after a six-year absence from the game is a dance no player has experienced in the same way.

She has no doubts about her ability when she’s on the field.

“It’s like no time has passed. I feel so comfortable and natural there,” Farrelly said. “The most important thing for me is my mentality – just the belief that I belong here, and have the confidence to show up and play for these players. Taking a lot of time off, I feel like I’m behind everyone. And I felt everyone’s support, but I’m someone who takes that as pressure, and things (need) to be perfect.”

At this point in her journey, the biggest challenge Farrelly said she had to overcome was her mind.

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“Total surrender and trust that all I have to do is show up and do my best, and that’s enough. In every training session, every game, I fight with my mind to get myself back to that place.”

But feelings on Saturday were good. this is important. Nor was this the case for Farrelly herself.

Farley with his first Irish cap. (Photo: Stephen McCarthy/Sportsfile via Getty Images)

USWNT head coach Vlatko Andonovski, who coached Farrelly in her first year of the NWSL with FC Kansas City in 2013, was beaming at the press conference when asked about her.

“I saw her after the game and gave her a big hug. It was great to see her on the field.” “Just in general, not just for the national team on the international stage. It’s obviously a good opportunity for her to earn a place for the team that will compete in the World Cup. But also just to see her back on the field because we know she’s a great player. She’s really skilful, a complete footballer.” So when I saw her after the game, I could see that joy in her eyes too.”

When Alex Morgan, her Portland teammate and key player who supported Farrelly and Shim in the process of telling their story, came through the mixed zone post-game, she couldn’t help but express her pride in Farrelly’s return to the NFL and her international debut.

“It’s the cinders I remember playing on the thorns with,” said she. “I really like her.”

Morgan will be on duty after the United States’ second friendly against Ireland on Tuesday.

“I told her she’s going to keep this shirt because it’s so special, but I want the next one.”

(Top photo: Stephen McCarthy/Sportsfile via Getty Images)

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