Ronan selects WNT squad for US double header
The matches will mark the start of an intensive nine month period for the squad which will end in September with the final game of the EURO 2017 qualifiers at home to Portugal.
“Normally we go to La Manga at this time of the year for a Winter Training Camp but it is great to get the opportunity to play against the world champions and also have time to take advantage of the mild climate and get some good work done on the training pitch,” said manager Sue Ronan.
The squad features four changes from the 22 players named for the side’s last outing at home to Spain in November. Injuries have ruled out goalkeeper Grace Moloney, defender Niamh Fahey and midfielder Grace Murray while striker Carol Breen is in the process of emigrating to Australia. Breen is replaced by the experienced Fiona O’Sullivan who returns to the squad after missing the opening three games of the EURO 2017 qualifying campaign which clashed with her new role as a coach with the University of San Francisco.
Megan Connolly, who was part of the squad at last year’s Istria Cup in Croatia, returns in place of Claire O’Riordan after a hugely successful debut season with Florida State University. Connolly, who is the only uncapped player in the squad, scored nine goals and had 10 assists in 22 games for FSU and was named on the Team of the Year by the National College Athletics Association. She also helped the Irish U19 squad reach the Elite Phase of the European Championships during that period.
Defender Megan Campbell, who missed the Spain game due to college commitments, also returns as does Wexford Youths defender Jessica Gleeson who made her debut against USA last May. Niamh Fahey pulled out of the squad earlier today with a knee injury and Ronan will name her replacement later in the week to bring the squad up to its full complement of 22 players.
Commenting on the changes, Ronan said: “I am delighted that Fiona O’Sullivan is available again as she is a very experienced player and offers us a lot of different options. Megan Connolly is no stranger to the squad having been with us at the Istria Cup last year and is coming in on the back of an outstanding debut season with Florida State University. She is one of several young players that have forced their way into the squad over the past 12 months and I am looking forward to seeing them stake their claims for first team places over the six games we will play between now and the resumption of the EURO 2017 campaign in April.”
After the two games in the USA the side will head to the Cyprus Cup in March for four games before resuming the EURO 2017 campaign away to Montenegro and Spain in April. The match against USA will take place in San Diego on Saturday, January 23, with the game against the USA U23 team being played behind closed doors in Carson near Los Angeles on Monday, January 25.
Women’s National Team Squad (v USA)
Goalkeepers: Emma Byrne (Arsenal), Niamh Reid Burke (Shelbourne)
Defenders: Meabh De Burca (Galway), Megan Campbell (Unattached), Jessica Gleeson (Wexford Youths), Savannah McCarthy (Galway), Aine O’Gorman (UCD Waves), Sophie Perry (Brighton & Hove Albion), Louise Quinn (Eskilstuna United), Ciara Rossiter (Wexford Youths)
Midfielders: Diane Caldwell (Unattached), Karen Duggan (UCD Waves), Siobhan Killeen (Shelbourne), Ruesha Littlejohn (Glasgow City), Katie McCabe (Arsenal), Denise O’Sullivan (Glasgow City), Julie Ann Russell (UCD Waves)
Forwards: Megan Connolly (Florida State University), Fiona O’Sullivan (Unattached), Stephanie Roche (Sunderland), Clare Shine (Glasgow City)