Cork soccer stars in the spotlight with Ryan Tubridy on The Late, Late Show

Denise O'Sullivan and Saoirse Noonan made an appearance last Friday night
Cork soccer stars in the spotlight with Ryan Tubridy on The Late, Late Show

Ireland made short work of Georgia last week and some marquee players appeared on The Late, Late Show. Picture: Eóin Noonan/Sportsfile

THERE has hardly been a clearer indication of the progress women’s football is making in this country than the sight of five members of the Republic of Ireland Women’s National Team taking their seats on The Late Late Show last Friday night.

On the pitch, the progress has been seen following the 11-0 demolition of Georgia at the beginning of last week which put them second in Group A and into the only playoff place at the halfway stage.

That was also the biggest winning margin in our nation’s footballing history, for both the men and the women, and it has increased the chances of this team qualifying for the Fifa Women’s World Cup in 2023, and therefore their first-ever major tournament.

Off the pitch, the sponsorship deals with Cadbury and Sky have been important while the agreement with the FAI for the men and women senior sides to receive equal pay has also been hugely significant.

In that hammering of the Georgians, a record domestic audience for a Women’s international tuned in with RTÉ reporting that an average of 209,000 viewers watched on.

Viewing figures also peaked at 340,000 towards the end of the game, while there were another 10,100 streams on RTÉ Player and there were just under 10,000 tickets sold for that game and the clash with Slovakia a few days earlier.

But the quintet of Irish stars appearing on the Late Late, where they were followed by Westlife no less, was a landmark moment.

And from a Cork point of view, it was great to see Denise O’Sullivan, who scored a hat-trick against Georgia, and Saoirse Noonan, who scored her first senior goal in only her second senior appearance, included and get the recognition they deserve.

“Thank you, it was an absolute honour,” began O’Sullivan when she was congratulated on her achievement by Ryan Tubridy.

“It was amazing. To get one goal for your country is fantastic but to get three on the same night is an honour. 

My nephew Jack was in the crowd, he absolutely loves football so I went straight over and gave him the ball. His mam sent me a photo that night and he was sleeping with it next to him!”

Noonan also had a special moment with her family that night as her brother Eoin, who works as a photographer, captured her celebration seconds after the ball hit the net. “It was nice to have him catch it, especially that moment,” she also told Tubridy.

It was a fitting finale to a landmark year for women’s football in Ireland and there could be more to come in 2022. “We’re going to the World Cup. hopefully,” concluded O’Sullivan.

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