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Katie McCabe’s body language said more than her words during Ireland presser where Vera Pauw’s exit was discussed

KATIE McCABE made a zipped-mouth gesture when asked about her Arsenal future. Old habits die hard.

But her demeanour during this media engagement could not have been more different from when she last spoke in the capital.

The Irish skipper speaking on Monday at the FAI Headquarters in Abbotstown


The Irish skipper speaking on Monday at the FAI Headquarters in Abbotstown
Ireland play Northern Ireland in an historic Nations League encounter at the Aviva Stadium on Saturday


Ireland play Northern Ireland in an historic Nations League encounter at the Aviva Stadium on Saturday

Back then, prior to the World Cup farewell game against France, the Ireland captain voiced her displeasure about the pre-match press conference being dominated by historical allegations against Vera Pauw.

She was far more diplomatic in her appraisal of her former manager than Diane Caldwell.

But that was perhaps a conscious decision to defuse the situation that developed between her and Pauw.

That emoji was posted when Pauw said McCabe had asked for Sinéad Farrelly to be taken off in the final World Cup group game against Nigeria and she was reminded that she was not the manager.

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If the Dutchwoman won that battle of wills, McCabe won the war. Pauw is no longer manager.

But McCabe was at pains to say that was an FAI decision. Yet, it was one taken after input from players in a review.

Farrelly — who previously said attending in this international window would be ‘complicated’ because of her club schedule — is not here either.

But the danger of exacerbating back spasms on a long-haul flight was given as the reason for her omission.

And, for someone who was sitting uncomfortably on her last appearance before journalists in Dublin, McCabe could not have looked happier.

A timely Ballon d’Or nomination will do her no harm in negotiations about a new deal with Arsenal — with the current one to expire next summer — or attracting suitors.

But for now she is looking forward to leading the women’s team out at the Aviva Stadium for the first time.

And a crowd of 30,000 or more is expected for Saturday’s Nations League opener against Northern Ireland.


Pauw’s one-time assistant Eileen Gleeson has made a good first impression as interim boss with the addition of a nutritionist, a performance coach and a sports psychologist addressing some of the concerns the players had about the Dutchwoman trying to do and control everything herself.

McCabe said: “I have used sports psychologists before and we have got some at Arsenal.

“It’s funny. If you have got an injury, you go to the physio and they sort you out.

“But if you are struggling with something in your head, who do you turn to?”


The addition of the staff is taken as evidence that the FAI is now listening to players.

Caldwell also cited speaking to former CEO John Delaney once in 12 years whereas she has an open dialogue with Jonathan Hill.

And McCabe said: “Our voices weren’t really heard when we were coming in.

“We’ve now developed a relationship with the FAI that they do listen to us.”

She is open-minded about how long it takes to find a permanent manager but hopes that, whoever takes charge, is equally approachable.

She said: “It is a two-way street working with managers and coaches.

“They are always going to challenge us and we are going to challenge them.

“It is not a bad thing wanting more from each other because it is only going to raise the level.”


Among the changes she would like to see is a move towards an attack-minded style of play.

McCabe said: “If you take it back to Colin Bell, he wanted a defensive style of play and we worked on that.

“And when Vera came in she tried to develop that from an attacking point of view.

“I think we are ready for those next steps. We’ve shown snippets of it when we do get up there and create.

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“It’s a cohesive thing as a team. You need to have control from behind when you are up there in the final third.

“We need to have patience and mistakes will be made but you need to play with your chest out. It’s high-risk football.”

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