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Friday 9 December 2016

'Stephanie Roche a godsend for women's football in Ireland'

Stephanie Roche with Houston Dash team-mates
Stephanie Roche with Houston Dash team-mates

THE rise to prominence of Stephanie Roche has been a godsend for women's football in Ireland, according to John Delaney.

Speaking after news of a €142,000 grant for the development of women's grassroots football initiatives from the FAI's €2.7m Youth Field Sports Government funding, Delaney agreed that Roche's global exposure will pay big dividends closer to home.

"Stephanie Roche's goal was a great talking point. It was a great goal and a great moment to see and it probably created an awareness of the women's game that wasn't hitherto seen in this country," said Delaney..

"But you only get benefits if you progress from that. and the real changes for us have been pragmatic things like the Emerging Talent programme for the girls, the women's national league which has been big success to date," he added.

Delaney believes that the first senior tournament qualification success will produce the same buzz the Six-Nations women have created around rugby.

"When the senior team qualifies for a major tournament? There's no question but this will happen in time. You can see how the women's rugby team got great attention when they won the Six Nations.

"I look forward to the day when the senior women's football team go to a major tournament like the 19s and 17s have done," he said.

"Back in 2005/6 there were eight and a half thousand registered girls. Now it's up around 25,000. Having more girls playing will lead to even better days at senior international level."

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