MACROOM native Paul Dunton is very well placed to judge the strength of women’s soccer in Ireland.
Dunton is a professional football scout for the Republic Of Ireland team and was recently appointed as a scout for Glasgow City FC, who have won the Premier League in Scotland for the last 13 years in a row.
Glasgow have reached the latter stages of European competition in recent years and in the current edition of the UEFA Women’s Champions League, they are due to play a quarter-final tie against Wolfsburg of Germany.
Whenever the current Covid-19 crisis abates.
As part of his role, Paul will help the Scottish side in relation to the club’s sourcing of talent in Ireland.
It’s immediately clear when chatting to the Leesider that this is a role he’s hugely excited about.
“Basically I’ll be going out and identifying players for Glasgow City. I spoke with Peter Caulfield, the head of recruitment last year and stayed in touch since.
“There always has been a vested interest in Glasgow City with the Irish connection.
“Denise O’Sullivan was over there, Savannah McCarthy heading over there, Noelle Murray was over there.
“Clare Shine is over there at the moment for her second spell. I always kept an eye on the league and how the Irish players were doing over there.
“So I got talking to Peter and just went into a few details. He gave me a few specific areas that he is looking to try and improve.
“I compiled a list for the club of players that I feel they are more than capable of the level in Scotland and playing Women’s Champions League Football with Glasgow City.”
Dunton feels that the proof is in the pudding when it comes to the work being done to produce female players in Ireland, with the standard of the National League growing all the time.
“The evidence is there, we are producing players here in Ireland. In recent Irish senior squads, you have players playing in Portugal, England, Germany, the USA, Australia, Scotland, Denmark and here in Ireland in the Women’s National League.
“I have been scouting for the national team for the last five seasons. I think that there is an awful lot of negative press about the FAI.
“I tend to focus on the positives. What a lot of people wouldn’t know is that there is a group across all levels, from Ruud Dokter, Vera Pauw, Eileen Gleeson, John Flood, Sue Ronan, Dave O’Connell, James Scott and then the individual FAI scouts.
“So we have a group of about 13 scouts, led by the head of scouting Noel King, the ex-Irish U21 international manager.
“We get invited on a monthly basis to Abbottstown to discuss and send in our reports to the relevant managers.
“Say if you are watching an U17s game, the reports go to James Scott the Ireland U17 manager.
“We’d also have our own WhatsApp group and stay in contact. Through Live Scouting as well, we’d know who has done well within the group, on top of compiling the individual reports.
“From watching the games at all levels in Ireland, the game is getting stronger and stronger. The evidence is clear that we are producing high-quality players.
“Most recently Rianna Jarrett signing for Brighton, where Megan Connolly is also.
“You have Leanne Kiernan and Ruesha Littlejohn now with West Ham. Megan Campbell is with Man City and you have the two girls at Arsenal, Katie McCabe and Louise Quinn.
“The evidence is there. We are producing players here and also from the Women’s National League to play at a higher level.”
As part of his role with the Irish national side, Dunton has a strong knowledge of the landscape in Ireland. In the UEFA Women’s Euro 2021 qualifying Group I, Ireland currently top the group, albeit with two crunch encounters to be played against Germany.
Dunton feels that if Ireland were to qualify for the finals of a major tournament, it would help raise the game in this country to another level again.
“There is an incredible effort being put in by the FAI, by Vera Pauw, by Eileen Gleeson, to get Ireland to the next level.
“Colin Bell, during his time in charge, did absolutely fantastic and for me as a scout he was very approachable.
“He was very thorough in his approach. The same could be said for Vera Pauw.
“You have to give credit to the players themselves. The levels of commitment that they have sacrificed down through the years to get to where they are now is just absolutely crazy.
“I recall back in 2012, Denise O’Sullivan, who was in CIT at the time, came back from a ten day tour in the US to take part in an interprovincial colleges tournament Athlone.
“They are the type of players you want to work with and they are the type of players that young players coming through the ranks should be able to identify with.
“That professional attitude and application has been absolutely immense.”