‘This is for Creeslough’: Ireland striker pays emotional tribute to explosion victims

After scoring the goal that sent Ireland to its first major women’s football tournament, Amber Barrett kissed the black band on her arm before being mobbed by delirious teammates.  

That goal sealed a 1-0 victory over Scotland at Hampden Park, sending Ireland to the World Cup in Australia-New Zealand next year.

Barrett, who is from Donegal, was also named player of the match, but said the events of last Friday in Creeslough, when an explosion at a petrol station claimed 10 lives — including that of Australian man James O’Flaherty, put the joy of qualification into perspective.

“I know Creeslough like the back of my hand, both my grandparents were Creeslough born and bred,” she told Irish broadcaster RTÉ while draped in a Donegal flag.

“I know people that died in the tragedy, I know people that were affected by the tragedy, I know people who were first on the scene at the tragedy and I’ve not been able to put into words about it.

“This is the best day of my life in terms of what we’ve done for football but when you put it into perspective, we don’t scratch the surface of what happened over there.

“This result, this game, that goal, this [player of the match] award, I’m dedicating it for those ten beautiful souls who unfortunately perished on Friday, for all their families.

“I know they touched their lives.They certainly touched ours.

“This is for Creeslough, this is for Donegal, this is for Ireland.”

The match started with a minute’s silence for the victims of the tragedy.

Barrett’s goal came in the 72nd minute, with the Turbine Potsdam striker coming off the bench to poke a perfectly weighted through ball from Denise O’Sullivan past the Scottish keeper for the only goal of the game.

Scotland had their chances, most tellingly from the penalty spot after Niamh Fahey was judged to have used her hand to deflect a Martha Thomas strike over the bar in the 12th minute of the game.

Courtney Brosnan though, guessed right and kept Caroline Weir’s effort out.

They also pressed hard for an equaliser in the dying moments but could not break down the Irish defence.

From sharing clothes to the World Cup in five years

Five and a half years ago, Ireland’s players threatened to go on strike after accusing the Football Association of Ireland of failing to provide the most basic levels of support, including having to share tracksuits and get changed in public toilets on their way to matches.

Now, they’re heading to the World Cup for the first time.

“I do not know what we have just done, I cannot believe it,” Barrett said.

Switzerland also qualified for the tournament proper after they beat Wales 2-1 in stoppage time at the end of extra time.

Portugal, meanwhile, goes to the 10-team intercontinental play-offs round in February in New Zealand.

The draw for the 2023 Women’s World Cup will be conducted by FIFA on October 22 in Auckland, with three of the 32 teams still yet to be confirmed.

Australia and New Zealand are hosting the first 32-team Women’s World Cup from July 20-August 20.

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