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Jarrett making right call

Euro 2021 qualifier: Rep of Ireland v Greece, Live RTE2 (KO 7.15)

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Rianna Jarrett is so happy to have turned professional by joining Brighton

Rianna Jarrett is so happy to have turned professional by joining Brighton

SPORTSFILE

Rianna Jarrett is so happy to have turned professional by joining Brighton

A move to England is already bearing fruit for one of the key players in Vera Pauw's senior Ireland squad after Rianna Jarrett quit her call-centre day job to become a full-time professional across the water.

And England is very much the goal for Wexford native Jarrett and her team-mates in the Republic of Ireland squad. That's where the 2021 European Championship finals are being hosted with some games being held in Brighton - Jarrett's current place of employment since a January move from Wexford to the Women's Super League

The next few days will have a big say in whether Pauw's side stay in the race for one of the qualification slots open to group runners-up - either directly or via a play-off.

Group I has, effectively, already been won by a Germany side who have scored 31 goals without reply in four games to date. Therefore, the idea of the Germans slipping up is fanciful (they have lost just one of their last 22 matches) but second place is up for grabs, and as the three best-placed runners-up will reach next year's finals automatically, a strong finish is important with the play-off route also on offer.

A win this evening in front of what's expected to be a record crowd at home against Greece - the side that frustrated Ireland with a draw in Athens last year - and another three points away to Montenegro on Wednesday will give Ireland a confidence boost for next month's trip to Germany.

Focus

The focus will then turn to June and a campaign-defining game in Ukraine.

"We have that one goal of qualifying for the first major tournament. That doesn't change," says Jarrett. "We were disappointed with the result in Greece (1-1). We have a lot to improve on but it's all a stepping stone, a learning curve. You always reflect on the previous game. Our focus is three points from Greece and I don't see why we can't do it, we have the players capable of doing it.

"Ukraine are second seeds, so beating them at home was a massive result to put us in a strong position. That doesn't mean we can take anything for granted. The job is not done yet."

Mick McCarthy said this week how club form will dictate a lot of his team selection for the Euro 2020 play-off in Slovakia later this month and while Pauw has some players still in pre-season, the early signs from Jarrett at Brighton are a major boost. She scored two goals on her debut for Brighton as she recovered from the third anterior cruciate ligament tear of her career.

"I was delighted to get my first game as I'd not played since the FAI Cup final in November, I was itching to go. I scored nice and early," Jarrett says. "It was nice to get on the pitch, remember what it was like to play again, it's been a long four months.

"As a striker I go into every game backing myself to score, if you are a striker and don't have that mindset there is something wrong. Nothing has changed I know I have the capabilities to score, if I get myself into those positions I back myself to put them away and thankfully my first strike in the game went in, that got rid of all the nerves."

The move to Brighton came late, meaning she had only a matter of hours to tidy up her affairs at her desk job in Ireland, in the call centre for credit reference agency Equifax. She decided to take up Brighton's offer on a Monday and by the following day, she was having an impromptu going-away party. Deciding to quit a role that involved dealing with the credit history of English clients wasn't so straightforward.

"Believe it or not, it was enjoyable to a certain extent as we had a good time and got on but I didn't want to be sitting on a phone for the rest of my life.

"It wasn't something I saw myself doing, it was just something for now, I was there two years and it served its purpose," Jarrett says.

"The opportunity to play full-time was fantastic.

"It's a step up from the WNL, even in training you are in with girls who have been full-time for a number of years. For me, I just wake up every day and it's a breath of fresh air not to have to sit at a desk for eight hours, that's the biggest difference."

An injury to Megan Campbell has hampered Ireland's plans for tonight's game while United States native Kyra Carusa - based in Denmark - hopes to make her debut, though she has players in her path.