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Louise Quinn on the festival of football about to get under way

Women’s Euros set to light up our sporting summer
Louise Quinn Headshot

Louise Quinn Headshot© SPORTSFILE

Louise QuinnIndependent.ie

I WOULD be perfectly happy if people jump on the bandwagon of women’s football over the next month as the European Championship finals kick off across the water.

What’s not to love about tournament football over the summer, and with the Euros being played close to home, in England, and all of the games being shown on RTÉ?

When I started watching football, it was so hard to see an event like the women’s Euros, it just wasn’t available.

So even though Ireland are not there, this is the best exposure we can get for women’s football.

It’s massively disappointing that the Republic didn’t qualify but if the bandwagoners are seeing these games over the next four weeks, that’s where it all starts.

I just hope that football is allowed to do the talking. With more exposure, from TV and other coverage, comes more scrutiny. We all know how harsh social media can be and I hope the opinions focus on the football, not the personalities.

If certain people do sit down to watch the Euros and then go on social media, or mouth off in the pub, about a mistake, just because it’s a woman involved, that’s ridiculous and frustrating.

This will not be a carbon copy of the men’s game, of the men’s Euros, it probably never will be.

So I’d like people to give their thoughts on the games, voice their opinion on what they see, I want those football chats to happen in the pub, in the car, sitting on the couch at home, hear it on the radio.

But constant personal criticism of players is not what we are here for, not what those players are trying to achieve in the Euros.

That ruins the game for me, the same in men’s football – if you’re are Harry Maguire and you just get lambasted on social media all the time it’s hard to recover from that, and these players at the women’s Euros are no different. You just listen to the people around who, people who believe in you, who understand that you are in the national team squad, you are at the finals of the Euros, for a reason.

England have to deal with this, as hosts and one of the favourites, all eyes will be on them so there is pressure to deliver.

I know many of the players, and I’m sure they can cope. But still, it will be a long month and I just hope that football will do the talking, because the quality on offer here is something really special.

This is the best group of footballers ever assembled in the women’s game. The technical side of has gone up a level and that will be clear to see.

Over the month it will be one of the tightest competitions there has been, the quality of players spread across the teams is phenomenal – you could easily pick six teams who could go on and win it.

Northern Ireland are the lowest seeds at the finals and they’ll find it tough. Our neighbours could struggle but I know their players will also relish being written off and will go out to prove a point.

It’s tough on Northern Ireland to have their first game against Norway, who are one of the outside chances for winning the tournament. Norway are just quietly going about their business, happy under the radar, and they could be dark horses.

Ada Hegerberg (left) was controversially off the scene for five years, she had her own protest at the way the national team were being treated by their FA, but it seems she’s happier now that things are better-run.

She won the first women’s Ballon D’Or in 2018, and she reminds me of another Norwegian, Erling Haaland. They both have that bit of attitude mixed with flair, she’s a poacher who can score from anywhere.

It’s so hard to pick the two teams who will be left standing on the last day. Even for the opening day today, England should win, but Austria have Viki Schnaderbeck, who is superb, and in Manuela Zinsberger they have one of the best goalkeepers in the WSL. England also have to cope with high expectations – that will be tough for them.

With the talent England have, they are well-placed to win it and in Sarina Wiegman they have a manager who knows how to win the Euros.

I’d expect England and Sweden to make it to the final, and for Sweden the disappointment of losing in the Olympics will be a driving force for the Euros. Norway are also contenders, and the Netherlands and Spain won’t be too far away.

Hegerberg could dominate the finals, England’s Lauren Hemp is one of the best wingers I ever played against, and at 22 she’s only going to get better, and Holland’s Vivianne Miedema is a joy to watch.

No shortage of reasons for us all to watch and enjoy.


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