Rianna Jarrett: A Wexford hero every youngster can look up to 1 week ago

Rianna Jarrett: A Wexford hero every youngster can look up to

Rianna Jarrett: a Wexford girl made in Wexford.

From when she was a youngster playing with North End United and then with Curracloe, Rianna Jarrett always had it.

Mapped for stardom from her early years, Wexford Youths was the natural progression.

The biggest club in Wexford were first in and Jarrett jumped at the chance. In 2011, as an 18-year-old with stars in her eyes, Jarrett had high hopes and big dreams.

Just a year earlier, she'd first played with the Republic of Ireland under-17s. In two years time the American colleges had heard about this clinical forward and it wasn't long before she was breaking goalscoring records University of Tennessee. Jarrett was always a goalscorer.

But then came the tough years. In 2015, Jarrett suffered the injury every sportsperson dreads. The cruciate ligament knocked at the door for the first time and that signalled the end of the American dream.

Back home to Wexford. Back home to Wexford Youths. It's a long way from southeast America but Jarrett had tunnel vision. She was in the prime of her career now and she wanted to give herself every chance.

As the goals went in one after another in the sunny south east, Colin Bell and the Irish women's senior team couldn't but take notice. It was in 2016 when Jarrett made her debut off the bench against Italy at the Cyprus Cup.

Meant to be the biggest day of her life, meant to be the beginning of her dreams, it ended after nine minutes in heartbreak after just nine minutes. Another cruciate, the second time she'd suffered that, it would have broken a lesser person.

But Jarrett, who has a Wexford mother and a Jamaican father wasn't taking no for an answer. Not having come this far. By 2018, she was back. And we mean back.

27 goals for the Youths and named the WNL player of the season. Talk about bouncebackability. By 2019, her form had elevated even further and that's why Vera Pauw has her playing a key role for this Irish women's side.

And on a windy Tuesday night in Tallaght, Jarrett showed what she can do. She lived her dream. Having chased, hassled and harried from the word go, her just reward came on the stroke of the half hour when she jumped highest and hardest to head in Katie McCabe's corner.

Jarrett ran herself into the ground from then home, but the most striking part of her play was her link-up and first touch. By the end of it she was named the player of the match and no-one could have begrudged her that.

"It's something I've dreamed of since I was a little kid."

Rianna Jarrett is here, and still just 25, she's here to stay.