3 May 2023
~2 minutes read
Trailblazing Irish Soccer Women to be honoured this Friday night
50 years on from the official formation of a Women’s National Football League in Ireland and the official first International soccer game involving the Republic of Ireland, the squad of women who lined out on May 13th, 1973 away to Wales are to be honoured this Friday night with an appearance on The Late Late Show.
The Women’s League of Ireland began in 1973, with a strong Galway involvement from clubs like Elms United, Wasps, Beejays and Happy Wanderers. The very first competitive Women’s League of Ireland game was on March 4th, 1973 when Cahir Park from Tipperary defeated Galway side Elms United 1-0 at West Park (The Swamp) in Galway. The champions after that first season were Limerick, but when it came to selecting an Irish international team, two Galway girls made the cut for the first-ever International game against Wales on May 13th in Llanelli.
Sally Bowens from Dunmore, who played with Elms United in Galway, and Nora (Nono) McHugh from Galway would be selected for the historic game, with Nono having the added honour of being Ireland’s captain for the day. The Irish team travelled over by boat for the game and it was young Dundalk striker Paula Gorman who proved the hero as her hat-trick helped Ireland to a 3-2 win.
A second win followed a month later against Northern Ireland, but in the early years of Women’s International Football, most countries were restricted to playing friendly games, and it wasn’t until 1982 that Ireland would eventually play a competitive fixture when they lost out 3-0 to Scotland in a European Championship Qualifier.
This Friday, May 5th, those trailblazing Irish women from 1973 are meeting in Dublin for an afternoon of reminiscing on those formative years that ultimately laid the foundations for the current squad qualifying for the FIFA World Cup finals this summer. Later on Friday evening, they make their way to the RTE studios in Donnybrook for an appearance on the Late Late Show with Ryan Tubridy, and the FAI have invited them as guests of honour to Tallaght Stadium on July 6th when the Republic of Ireland Senior Women’s team play France in a friendly before they play their first match at the World Cup against Australia in Sydney two weeks later.