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31st Jul 2023

Tension between Katie McCabe and Vera Pauw spills over into press conference after Nigeria draw

Niall McIntyre

There appears to be something of a power struggle in the Irish women’s camp.

Tension between players and management became evident in the closing stages of Ireland’s 0-0 draw with Nigeria in their final game of this World Cup.

This was the first point Ireland have ever won at a women’s World Cup but it wasn’t enough to keep everyone on the same page.

70 minutes had been played in the game when Katie McCabe called for “fresh legs” on her side of the pitch.

Upon hearing the request, manager Vera Pauw didn’t budge.

The manager waited 13 more minutes to make any substitutes, before Marissa Sheva and Abbie Larkin replaced Lily Agg and Heather Payne, who came into the game on the back of hamstring issues.

Vera Pauw was asked about the exchange by reporters after the game, and she was forthright in her response.

“She’s not the coach,” said Pauw.

“Why would we change? If Katie McCabe wants a change, it doesn’t mean…she’s not the coach, yeah?”

‘Everybody was doing so well. Was everybody wanting to take the best player off?” she said, apparently referring to Sinead Farrelly.

“A player is allowed to be emotional,” added Pauw. is allowed to say that, it’s fine. But during the game, I step back and analyse and make changes that are necessary,” said Pauw.

“And if you wanted to know why we made the changes? I’m happy to.

“We have brought on Abbie Larkin and Marissa Sheva, Marissa Sheva to have the power forward, to get the pace we needed over there.

Speaking with Tony O’Donoghue after the game, Katie McCabe rued a chance she missed in the first half but praised her side for their efforts.

“To be calm, composed and patient in our defensive work, to have a lot of the possession was really good,” she said, “it was just about utilising it in the right areas.”

“We did create some good opportunities and it was disappointing that we didn’t capitalise on it. But, yeah, I was really proud of it, and for Courtney to make that world class save at the end to help get us the point was really good.”

Pauw, meanwhile, was delighted with how the team executed their game-plan.

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