‘It’s a lot more real now seeing it’ – Abbie Larkin hopeful as World Cup trophy visits Dublin

Republic of Ireland international Abbie Larkin with the FIFA Women’s World Cup trophy. Photo by Stephen McCarthy/Sportsfile© SPORTSFILE

Seán O'Connor

Ireland forward Abbie Larkin admits seeing the Women’s World Cup trophy visit her native Ringsend has made the country’s first participation in the finals feel all the more real.

The biggest prize in women’s football made a visit to Irishtown Stadium this week as over 100 schoolkids got the chance to get up close and personal with the trophy.

With a little over two months to go until Ireland’s opening game against co-hosts Australia in Sydney, Shamrock Rovers star Larkin says she would have never expected to see the trophy just a stone's throw away from where she grew up.

“It’s a lot more real now seeing it,” said Larkin, with Ireland boss Vera Pauw also in attendance.

“It’s a great motivation to have. We could literally win that trophy. There's a chance for us here to do that. It’s a great opportunity to see it in person.

“When I had tournaments here I never got an opportunity like this, the World Cup trophy coming around. I think it’s an amazing opportunity for the girls coming up just to see it. I wouldn’t have believed it, it’s crazy.

“Women’s football has grown a lot. A while ago, you wouldn’t have seen so many girls at a tournament. It’s amazing how interested they are.”

Before challenging for the trophy, Larkin must first convince Pauw she is worth a place in her 23-player squad, which is likely to be finalised before their send-off friendly against France on July 6 in Tallaght Stadium.

Larkin says he has one mission between now and then, keep her head down, continue working hard with the Hoops and hope she makes the cut.

“Seeing that trophy is a lot of motivation to keep working harder and harder each day, just to keep my head down and hope for the best,” said the 18-year-old.

“Yeah she (Vera) has been good. We have home based sessions. It’s great a few of the players who are based in Ireland can come in and we can all train together, gel together, see the coaches and Vera, so it’s good. They (home-based sessions) are on nearly every week.

“I’m just focused on now, performing well in the league. Obviously, coming up the camps before the World Cup, fingers crossed I’m in them. I just have to keep working hard and show what I can do.”

A strong few weeks with Shamrock Rovers will boost her chances of getting on the plane. The Women’s Premier Division newcomers are one point off top spot after eight games, and are the only remaining team yet to be defeated in 2023.

The forward hit her first goal for the Hoops in last month’s Dublin derby victory over Bohemians, which also saw her earn the club’s Goal of the Month award for April, and she says she’s loving life at Tallaght Stadium.

“We’re doing well,” added Larkin, ahead of this evening’s trip to 2022 runners-up Athlone Town (7.0).

“It was a bit tough with all the new players coming in together but we have bonded well and I think we’re doing pretty good. We got our win against Cork (5-0) so that was great. We have Athlone tonight so hopefully we’ll get a few more points there.

“I think it (Rovers) is a great opportunity for me as a player to develop. I think it’s benefitted me a lot. A new environment, new players, a new manager. The facilities are amazing as well.

“Collie (O’Neill) is amazing, he’s a great manager. He looks after the players and wants what is best for you. He’s obviously doing something right with us doing well in the league

“The table is fairly even, you never know what could happen. We are third now so hopefully we can make it up to first soon.”

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