Leanne Kiernan cuts a relaxed figure, as if the World Cup final call is just another step on the road.
Kiernan made her first appearance in a green jersey since February 19, 2022 in Pinatar Cup against Russia on Thursday night.
The Cavan woman had her chances on the night, an agreed 45-minute appearance in Tallaght stadium against Zambia.
“It’s been a while since I got on the pitch, but it’s really nice to be back with the girls” smiled Kiernan. “It felt nice to be back in Tallaght stadium, playing with the crowd. I’m looking forward to the next few days and see what it brings.”
“We had agreed on 45” minutes explains Kieranan. “There’s a few players (needing game time), so we had sorted that out before the game”.
“I’ve had a tough few weeks of training, hopefully there is more in the legs of course” added Kiernan. “I hope” to be on the plane, “fingers crossed”.
After a brutal period with injuries Kiernan is playing a waiting game. Although she gives no sense of a player with a big decision hanging over them.
“When you’re lying out in a gym for nine months and you just do anything to get the opportunity just to be here and prove a point and do well in training. I’ve worked hard the last nine months so let’s see what happens” smiled Kiernan.
“As a young kid, I always want to represent my country and represent it at a senior level” declared Kiernan. “So to have the chance of going to a World Cup is a dream come true. And us Irish it’s a great group of girls. I’m just looking forward to the next few weeks.”
Succesful return to training
Having come through the training camp and the first of two scheduled friendlies, boss Vera Pauw has given the team the weekend off.
The side reassemble in UCD on Monday with the clock ticking towards Thursday final announcement of the World Cup panel.
I’m just going to “Relax over the weekend and see what’s to come” explained Kiernan, showing no signs of nerves. “What can you do? It’s outside of your control”. So you just “relax and see what’s to come”.
“I think its sometime next week” added Kiernan, playing down the pressure of selection. “So we’re brought in for a few days and we’re told. I’m not sure when but there is a set date” the panel needs to be named, “so I’m sure you’ll find out when we do”.
“What’s meant to be will be, what’s for you won’t pass you!”
ᴍᴀᴍ ɪ’ᴍ ᴏɴ Fɪꜰᴀ ᴀɴᴅ ᴛʜᴇʏ ɢᴀᴠᴇ ᴍᴇ sᴏᴍᴇ ᴘɪɴᴇᴀᴘᴘʟᴇ ᴅʀɪᴘ 🍍 pic.twitter.com/sni3nwkAsr
— Leanne Kiernan (@kiernan_leanne) October 26, 2022
Impressing on return
On the pitch things went well for the Liverpool striker. Flashing a volley just wide after two minutes. Then seeing Zambia keeper Hazel Nali, racing out to shut down a Kiernan effort.
Overall, Kiernan gave Vera Pauw a lot to think about ahead of naming her final World Cup panel.
Trailing one-nil and coming off at half-time, Kiernan watched from the side line as Amber Barrett inspired Ireland back to a 3-2 victory. The turnaround pleasing the Cavan forward.
“We want to be going into a world cup with wins under our belt, so it’s positive” declared Kiernan. “It’s great to see all the girls been given their chance”.
The one dark spot on the Tallaght Stadium attendance was once again the empty seats. Billed as a sell-out, just 5,736 came through the turnstiles.
“It will be a great job when the fourth stand is open” said Kiernan of the crowd. “It was a great crowd, you could hear them roaring and shouting even from within the dressing room”.