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‘We knew we did wrong’ – €20k fine is the consequence of our actions, says Áine O’Gorman

Independent.ie logo Independent.ie 09/12/2022 Aidan Fitzmaurice

Irish international Áine O’Gorman says the Republic of Ireland squad have learned lessons from the saga over their controversial sing-song in Scotland.

UEFA yesterday informed the FAI that they had been fined €20,000 for “the violation of the basic rules of decent conduct”, arising from the ‘Up the ‘Ra’ line sung by members of the squad just after World Cup qualification had been secured.

That news, and penalty, had sunk in by the time O’Gorman was formally unveiled as one of Shamrock Rovers’ marquee signings ahead of the 2023 Women’s Nations League season, her long-time comrade Stephanie Roche also making the move from O’Gorman’s long-time home Peamount United.

For O’Gorman, the UEFA fine closes off what was a difficult time for players who came in for stern criticism after the song emerged.

“We owned up that we did wrong, we knew we did wrong, we accept that and that [UEFA fine] is the consequence of it,” said O’Gorman. 

“We learned from the situation . . . we’re looking forward to learning our lessons and putting it to bed, looking to the future and the World Cup.”

The 2023 World Cup, and her plans to win a place in Vera Pauw’s 23-strong squad, was among the reasons for her move to Rovers, as she becomes a semi-professional for the first time in her domestic career. The 33-year-old sees potential in the Hoops as a women’s outfit. 

​“It’s an elite club with a high-performance culture, something that’s a big positive to bring into the women’s game, the professionalism around the place as well,” she said, speaking at the club’s Roadstone training complex which the WNL squad will have access to.

“I have been at Peamount for five years, I had great times there, great people, staff, coaches, players but sometimes you need a new challenge, to keep the fire in the belly. It’s a World Cup year, having access to full-time training was important.”

Rovers participated in the first ever WNL season (2011/2012) but pulled out after three seasons, so 2023 will see their re-entry to that sphere. Taking on the powerhouses of Shelbourne, Wexford Youths and Peamount will be a challenge but those behind the project are already making statements of intent.

“We want to come in and change the game here. We want to raise the standards that exist already whether that’s facilities, strength and conditioning, the medical stuff, performance analysis. We want to reach the next level,” says Jason Carey, the club’s head of women’s football. “It’s been grown year on year, that expertise, but we want to take it to the next level and tap into what already exists in the club and get up to that level.”

Manager Collie O’Neill also knows that success is expected. “This is Shamrock Rovers. Once you walk in the door the expectation is to win the league. I’ve said it to all the players I’ve spoken to, the expectation is to win the league. If we win game after game after game, great. You have to own the expectation. That’s the standard here,” says the former UCD boss.

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