Emma Hansberry - A debut to remember!
Ireland play Japan in the FIFA World Cup quarter final in Trinidad on Friday, September 17 at midnight (Irish time.) You can see all of the action live on www.rte.ie and Eurosport while there will also be a live text commentary right here on www.FAI.ie.
When Sligo's Emma Hansberry received the call from Noel King at the start of August, calling her up to the Republic of Irelands 21 player squad for the FIFA Women's World Cup in Trinidad and Tobago, it was only the beginning of an incredible journey for the Strand Celtic midfielder who had only previously played one game for the Republic of Ireland U16 team in a friendly versus Northern Ireland.
With the team leading Ghana 3-0 with just five minutes remaining, Emma Hansberry was thrown into the action as she replaced Ireland's third goalscorer, Aileen Gilroy on the right side of midfield for her competitive international debut at the FIFA Women's U17 World Cup in Trinidad.
The 16 year old central midfielder forced her way into the Republic of Ireland squad following a successful season at domestic level with Strand Celtic and her performances in the Irish U17 pre-tournament training camp ensured her place in Ireland's World Cup squad.
Speaking after her side ensured qualification to the quarter-finals of the World Cup after topping Group D ahead of Brazil, Canada and Ghana, Emma Hansberry said, "I remember, Aileen (Gilroy) got a knock after she scored our third goal and our assistant manager, Harry Kenny told me I was going on. To be honest, I wasn't even thinking about making my competitive debut in the World Cup finals. The game was so tense and it was vital that we kept the game at 3-0 to ensure our progression to the next round as group winners. It was such a physical game against Ghana who were so strong and physical but we held out until the final whistle and then it hit me! I will always remember playing agianst Northern Ireland in an U16 friendly because representing my country is so important for me. To play in a FIFA World Cup is something everyone dreams about, I will always remember that moment and I am so pleased that my family were here to see me play," she said.
Hansberry added, "If you are in the squad, there is always a possibility that you will play and it is important for everybody to be ready to be thrown into the action and do your best for the team. I decided to work extremely hard in training and just be ready if the opportunity ever arose. I usually play in central-midfield but I would honestly play in any position for Ireland if I was needed with the exception of goalkeeper mayne! I am underage for the U17 team next year but right now I am concentrating on this World Cup and the game against Japan next Friday is the biggest game of all our lives so far. It is such a difficult team for players to break into with the quality that we have on the field. In my opinion, we probably have the best midfield in the tournament with the likes of Dora (Gorman), Ciara (Grant), Aileen (Gilroy) and Siobhán (Killeen). Their ability is world class and I will be working as hard as possible to learn from them over the coming weeks," she added.
FIFA World Cup - Quarter-final
Republic of Ireland v Japan
Friday, September 17, 2010
Larry Gomes Stadium, Trinidad
Kick-off: 12 midnight (Irish time)