Tallaght Stadium. The final stages of a major European competition. Irish particpants for the first time. Heady days for the game here. And no, it’s not Shamrock Rovers. Peamount United Ladies face Paris Saint German in the UEFA Women’s Champions League on Wednesday and take another defining step for football in Ireland.
The women’s game is going from strength to strength here with Irish captain Ciara Grant, Emma Byrne, Niamh Fahey, and Yvonne Tracy forming part of the all-conquering Arsenal Ladies who added the Continental Cup this week to their haul of FA Cup and Women’s Super League titles this season, their eighth successive English league crown
The Republic of Ireland national side are currently second behind France with one win and one loss as they bid to reach Euro 2013.
Peamount are the first Irish club to qualify for the Women’s Champions League having come through as one of two best runners-up from the preliminary group stages.
The west-Dublin outfit’s FAI Cup triumph in 2010 earned them the right to represent Ireland in the UEFA tournament.
Wins against Slovenia’s ZNK Krka (7-0) and Estonians Parnu JK (5-1) saw them progress to the last 32 alongside group winners Rayo Valllecano de Madrid.
They now face Paris Saint-German, a professional side who were runners-up in Division 1 Féminine last season.
The newly-founded FAI National Women’s League begins this year with seven teams initially taking part including Peamount.
United had five players in the Republic of Ireland squad for the recent Euro qualifiers against Wales and France.
Their most famous former player was, of course, Katie Taylor. The world’s number one female boxer combined club and international football with her heroics in the ring before deciding to concentrate full-time on punching people instead of holes in the opposition defence.
With the Irish U17 side reaching the final of the European Championship in 2010 and going all the way to the quarter-finals of the World Cup, and now Peamount’s appearance in the last 32 of the Champions League, there’s proof that the women’s game in Ireland is making rapid progress.
Just as their hosts at Tallaght Stadium are blazing a trail for domestic Irish football, Peamount’s sisters are doing it for themselves.
Next week’s return leg in Paris will be screened live on Eurosport TV.