Heidi Mackin leads the Cork City contingent on Ireland U17 duty

Maebh Russell and Ellie O’Brien are also in the squad that headed out to Norway earlier this week
Heidi Mackin leads the Cork City contingent on Ireland U17 duty

Heidi Mackin turns away from Carlow's Orla Woods for Cork during the U15 Gaynor Cup Plate semi-final in Lakewood last year. Picture: Howard Crowdy

CORK City FC are strongly represented in the Irish International U17 Women’s Side ahead of European Championship qualifiers taking place in Norway over the coming week. 

Maebh Russell, Ellie O’Brien, and Heidi Mackin all travelled to Norway this week ahead of games against Hungary today (1pm), Bulgaria on Tuesday (1pm), and hosts Norway on Friday (4pm).

Heidi Mackin made her debut in the recent training camp in Portugal and scored the winner to cap a fine 1-0 win against the hosts. 

“It was great to get the goal in Portugal and to score after winning my first cap was brilliant." 

A year younger than many of her fellow U17 squad members, she had been on standby before getting called up for the Portugal camp, and admitted she was a little nervous."

It was my first camp and the girls made it really easy to settle in."

Ellie O’Brien, her Cork City FC and former Cork Gaynor Cup team-mate helped the transition to what was a camp busy with meetings, training as well as specific time set aside to keep up on schoolwork assignments from home.

Irish U17 manager James Scott was delighted with Mackin, and the Portugal camp overall. 

Heidi was new to the group and playing a year up for her country which is a great achievement, she had been on standby and came in late and did a great job at left-sided centre-back. 

"She looked very comfortable, as though she had played 10 or more games at this level."

While they lost 3-1 to Portugal in the opening game of the camp, Scott was happy with the trip. 

“Portugal was to look at the starting 11 for the qualifiers and it served that purpose. We lost the opening game, but I was happy with the performance. We had travelled the day before and the game was played in 25-degree heat and we were a little sloppy in the final 20 minutes but we had a couple of very good training days and in the second game looked very solid defensively and created some great opportunities and Heidi scored that lovely goal on her debut.” 

With the confidence of the manager behind her, Mackin is looking forward to the week. 

“I hope to start Saturday but I don’t think I’ll play all of the three games,” she said. "Rotation in the squad will be important with three games in eight days." 

POTENTIAL

Ellie O’Brien and Maebh Russell will also be pushing for starting positions with Scott full of praise for both. 

“Ellie reminds me of Denise O’Sullivan in the way she plays, her ability to spot a pass that others might not, and she can dictate the tempo of the game and Maebh is tenacious, quick and strong and just doesn’t let anyone beat her, she’s also a good influence off the pitch, always relaxed and smiling."

The girls also have their Cork City manager, Sarah Healy in their corner, and she knows the girls as well as anyone and is absolutely delighted for them. 

“We are very proud of the players, it is an honour to represent your country and this is definitely an honour that Ellie, Heidi and Maebh deserve. These players are a pleasure to coach, great people, as well as great players, and we wish them all the best for the qualifiers” 

While international duty means being without the girls for the next two league games, Healy remains confident. 

“We continue our league games this weekend at home to Wexford, while Heidi, Ellie and Maebh will be wearing the other green jersey, we will be playing without them. We are lucky to have a very talented side with loads of players to help us to win this weekend and do the girls in Norway proud."

Coming off the back of a 2-1 victory over Shelbourne last weekend Healy intends to use the win in the cup “to drive us on this weekend to try and pick up the points to also qualify for the league semi-final”.

The Irish manager was full of praise for the Cork City FC U17 Women, naming a further three from Sarah Healy’s excellent squad on the fringes of the squad. 

“Grace Flanagan, Grace Fitzpatrick and Sarah Bell are there or thereabouts too, while we have a squad of 20, there’s maybe another 15-20 girls who are excelling at their clubs across the country, working hard to make these squads and are ready to step up."

Mackin's parents Jason and Lorraine say their daughter is loving her football at Cork City and Ireland but it comes as no surprise to them. 

She could never pass a ball in a shop without picking it up, her first coach was really her brother Miki, they were in the garden and the green in all sorts of weather before either of them ever joined a club." 

They also parents paid tribute to Carrigaline United coaches, particularly Brian O’Neill and Gus Bowen and Conor Meade of Maximum Football on Heidi’s development as she has moved from schoolgirls, through Cork’s Gaynor Cup teams and the FAI Centre of Excellence and now onto League of Ireland and Women’s National League. 

“So far, it has given her great opportunities and great friends,” said Lorraine “and it was great to see Maebh and Ellie celebrating with her after her goal in Portugal and helping her to settle into the team."

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