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EURO 2022

Northern Ireland squad for Women’s Euro 2022: player profiles - Furness, Nelson...

Euros debutants Northern Ireland have a largely domestic-based squad in which record goalscorer Rachel Furness is the stand-out individual.

Stewart McKinley
Euros debutants Northern Ireland have a largely domestic-based squad in which record goalscorer Rachel Furness is the stand-out individual.

As part of the Guardian’s Women’s Euro 2022 Experts’ Network, a collaboration between media outlets from 16 countries, AS is offering in-depth profiles of the players in all 16 squads at the tournament, which runs from 6 to 31 July. This lowdown on the Northern Ireland squad is written by the Belfast Telegraph’s Stewart McKinley.

Jackie Burns

Date of birth: 6 March 1997

Position: Goalkeeper

Club: Häcken

As a teenager Burns was an all-rounder when it came to sport. She was already an international in netball and hockey before making her senior debut for Northern Ireland in football aged 16 – as well as being a talented javelin thrower. She first played football at the age of eight and her future international teammate Simone Magill, despite being only three years older, was a big inspiration as she played for the same Mid Ulster Ladies club before joining Everton while still in her teens. Burns majored in exercise science at Carson Newman University in Tennessee, where she also won team and individual honours on the football pitch. Away from sport Burns’ talent is being able to complete a Rubik’s Cube.

Becky Flaherty

Date of birth: 6 March 1998

Position: Goalkeeper

Club: Brighouse Town

Born in Scotland, Flaherty grew up near Aberdeen and was capped by Scotland at both under-17 and under-19 level and even played against Northern Ireland in 2017 before former manager Alfie Wylie persuaded her to throw her lot in with the Green and White Army. She qualifies through her mother’s parents, who were born in County Antrim and County Londonderry. A graduate in science and football from Liverpool John Moores University while playing for both Everton and Liverpool. Flaherty was a very talented golfer in her teens and played off a 12 handicap when winning the Scottish Under-15 handicap competition, but now rarely plays. She also played badminton at a high level, being ranked eighth in Scotland at under-15 level and fourth in doubles.

Shannon Turner

Date of birth:

Position: Goalkeeper

Club: Wolves

Turner began playing as a striker at primary school – she still harbours hopes of a return to playing outfield one day in the future – and was picked up by scouts from her local club Birmingham City. Soon after joining their Centre of Excellence she was asked to play in goal against Aston Villa and has been there ever since. From Solihull, she qualifies for Northern Ireland through grandparents on both sides of her family. Joining Wolves last summer has changed everything for a player who had fallen out of love with the game and within a year she is in the squad for these finals having been out of the international scene since her teens. A big cricket fan, Turner played the game in her youth and is still a keen follower. She also has a passion for animals, in particular giraffes.

Rebecca McKenna

Date of birth: 13 April 2001

Position: Defender

Club: Lewes

Although it was her performances for Linfield that helped Bangor girl McKenna earn a dream move into full-time football with Lewes in the FA Women’s Championship, she actually cut her teeth at senior level with Belfast rivals Glentoran before moving across the city in 2017. She shone against Belgian giants Anderlecht in the Women’s Champions League in 2020 and that led to Kenny Shiels putting his faith in her for the key Women’s Euro 2022 play-off against Ukraine. She repaid that with two outstanding performances and those displays also went a long way to winning her that move to Lewes. Like teammate Ashley Hutton, she is a past pupil of Bangor Academy, which also boasts Keith Gillespie among its alumni.

See also:

Abbie Magee

Date of birth: 15 November 2000

Position: Defender

Club: Cliftonville

Magee comes from the same County Down village of Killyleagh as men’s record goalscorer David Healy. She progressed through the age groups at Linfield alongside international colleagues Megan Bell and Kelsie Burrows and won consecutive Northern Ireland league titles from 2018 to 2020. She was thrown in at the deep end at senior international level, making her debut as a half-time substitute in the crucial Women’s Euro 2022 qualifier away to Belarus and was outstanding in helping to see out a 1-0 win with only 10 players on the pitch. A cruciate ligament injury in March 2021 threatened her involvement in this tournament, but she returned within 12 months to start in both the April World Cup qualifiers and has since joined Cliftonville Ladies. When not playing she coaches with the Rangers Academy in Northern Ireland.

Kelsie Burrows

Date of birth: 22 February 2001

Position: Defender

Club: Cliftonville

Burrows’ talent was spotted early and she made her senior debut for Linfield aged just 15, winning her first under-17 cap in the same year. Her and international teammate Abbie Magee are former school friends from Nendrum College in the County Down town of Comber. Their career paths have almost run parallel since Burrows joined Linfield from local club Comber Rec, bar a short spell when she played for Blackburn Rovers during a stint at university, with both now playing their club football at Linfield. She won her first senior cap in March 2020 and the manager, Kenny Shiels, showed enough faith in her to hand a first competitive start against England at Wembley 18 months later.

Ashley Hutton

Date of birth: 2 November 1987

Position: Defender

Club: Linfield

Inspired by a footballing father, who played just outside the top level in Northern Ireland, Hutton’s playing career has taken her from her home town of Bangor, to England, America and Iceland – where a number of her international colleagues past and present also played. She attended the same school as the men’s international Keith Gillespie had a few years before and played hockey and netball there before then spending some time at Arsenal as a teenager. In September 2019 she became only the second female player to win 100 caps for Northern Ireland and marked the occasion by scoring a late equaliser to give the team a 2-2 draw in Wales. That goal would go on to prove crucial as the point and two away goals put Northern Ireland ahead of Wales on head-to-head record and put them into the play-offs for Women’s Euro 2022. Has recently battled back from cruciate ligament surgery.

Julie Nelson

Date of birth: 4 June 1985

Position: Defender

Club: Crusaders Strikers

Born in Somerset to parents who were both born in South Africa, Holloway became a Northern Ireland international purely by chance after being invited to play a match while visiting her grandmother in Ballymoney, County Antrim, where she was spotted by former senior manager Alfie Wylie. A product of Bristol City’s academy, Holloway spent four years at Cumberland University in Tennessee where she starred for Cumberland Phoenix in the NAIA, winning two player of the year prizes and being named in the Team of the Season three times. She was first called into the Northern Ireland squad in August 2019, but it was not until February 2021 that she made her debut, due to her making the decision to focus on club football, having just joined Birmingham City, as well as protecting her own mental health.

Sarah McFadden

Date of birth: 23 May 1987

Position: Defender

Club: Durham

As a child McFadden persuaded her father to buy her first pair of football boots because her brother was getting a pair at the same time, but was told that she couldn’t play for the school football team because girls weren’t allowed to take part. That was part of the reason why she began to play netball and progressed to win international honours for Northern Ireland, but when the choice had to be made over which sport to pursue when she got older football was her choice. Combines playing for Durham Women with being a teacher in a further education college in Newcastle upon Tyne and being a mother to four-year-old Harper. One of a number of members of the squad who attended the University of Southern Mississippi, she played for three different teams during spells in Iceland before settling in England and overcame a cruciate ligament injury to return to the international stage.

Demi Vance

Date of birth: 2 May 1991

Position: Defender

Club: Rangers

Vance has had a hugely varied journey throughout her football life, from playing on boys’ teams before joining Glentoran Women in her teens to college in Chicago and then three years in Australia. She is one of the most decorated players in the squad, winning five league titles and seven Irish cups as part of 19 medals won with Glentoran as well as league and cup success with Perth club Redbacks while in Australia. She gave up her job as a personal trainer to join Rangers Women in 2019 and after recovering from a cruciate ligament injury sustained right at the end of the Women’s Euro 2022 qualification campaign – an injury that put her out of the play-offs – she was part of the team that won the Scottish Women’s Premier League for the first time in 2022.

Rebecca Holloway

Date of birth: 22 August 1995

Position: Defender

Club: Racing Louisville

Born in Somerset to parents who were both born in South Africa, Holloway became a Northern Ireland international purely by chance after being invited to play a match while visiting her grandmother in Ballymoney, County Antrim, where she was spotted by former senior manager Alfie Wylie. A product of Bristol City’s academy, Holloway spent four years at Cumberland University in Tennessee where she starred for Cumberland Phoenix in the NAIA, winning two player of the year prizes and being named in the Team of the Season three times. She was first called into the Northern Ireland squad in August 2019, but it was not until February 2021 that she made her debut, due to her making the decision to focus on club football, having just joined Birmingham City, as well as protecting her own mental health.

Laura Rafferty

Date of birth: 29 April 1996

Position: Midfielder

Club: Southampton

Born in Southampton, her goal is to play for Northern Ireland in her home city this summer. Rafferty qualifies for Northern Ireland as both of her parents were born in Belfast and she has worn the green shirt since the age of 15 in the under-19 team. In her younger years she was prevented from playing in a boys’ league – maybe because she had racked up 50 goals in just eight matches. She has played at the top level in the Women’s Super League with both Chelsea and Bristol City, as well as a four-year stint at Brighton, which was badly impacted by a cruciate ligament injury and Covid-19. She joined hometown club Southampton last summer and she and club and international colleague Ciara Watling have their own YouTube channel.

Nadine Caldwell

Date of birth: 24 January 1991

Position: Midfielder

Club: Glentoran

Caldwell excelled as a sportswoman in her school days, when she won an award as the pupil who participated most in extra-curricular activities. She grew up in the shadows of Windsor Park and joined Linfield, but later moved across Belfast to join rivals Glentoran. After making her Northern Ireland debut aged 17 Caldwell missed six years of international football from 2014 to 2020, partly due to joining close friend Demi Vance in Australia, where they both played for the Redbacks in Perth. She has also represented Northern Ireland in futsal while off the pitch she has been employed in Belfast City Hospital for a number of years, taking a break from her job to go full time in preparation for the Euro 2022 finals.

Chloe McCarron

Date of birth: 22 December 1997

Position: Midfielder

Club: Glentoran

McCarron’s potential was spotted early and she won international honours before ever playing in an all-girls team when she was picked for the Northern Ireland Under-15s when still only 13 years old. Despite going on to win caps at Under-17 and Under-19 level there was a four-year gap between her initial senior appearances in friendly matches and her competitive debut at the start of the Women’s Euro qualifying campaign in 2019. Less than a year later she became the first player to transfer from a senior club in Northern Ireland to the English top flight when she moved from Linfield to Birmingham City in August 2020. Sadly that move only lasted a short time as she was released from her contract nine months later and returned to Glentoran, where she won another league title in 2021. She is a big coffee lover and regularly enjoys a cup before training or a match.

Marissa Callaghan

Date of birth: 2 September 1985

Position: Midfielder

Club: Cliftonville

Callaghan puts her beginnings in football down to childhood friend Roseanne, who she spotted playing in the street after moving into a new area at just seven years old. From playing at a youth club she progressed to Newington in the north-Belfast area before joining Cliftonville, where she has been for 20 years. Along the way she had a spell at college in the USA and almost walked away from the game entirely after graduating. After playing for Northern Ireland at Under-19 level Callaghan only began to take international football seriously after a conversation with former senior manager Alfie Wylie, who made her realise that she may regret it if she didn’t fully commit. She is also employed by the Irish Football Association as a Girls’ Participation Officer and has James as her middle name – named after an uncle on her mother’s side of the family.

Joely Andrews

Date of birth: 20 April 2002

Position: Midfielder

Club: Glentoran

Andrews was once a young fan watching her now international teammates Julie Nelson, Ashley Hutton, Sarah McFadden and Rachel Furness playing for the team. Although just turned 20 she has already started her coaching journey and has taken on a role with one of the younger teams at her club Glentoran. She played at under-17 international level alongside Caitlin McGuinness and only appeared a few times for that age group before making her senior debut against the Faroe Islands in September 2020. Despite back-to-back defeats for the team the April World Cup qualifying double-header was a special one for Andrews as she scored her first international goal against Austria and was then handed her first competitive start against England a few days later. Joining the full-time training programme in January meant she had to balance her studies for a psychology degree at the University of Ulster with football.

Northern Ireland's Rachel Furness tracks Belgium's Hannah Eurlings during the teams' friendly match on 23 June.
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Northern Ireland's Rachel Furness tracks Belgium's Hannah Eurlings during the teams' friendly match on 23 June.DAVID CATRYGetty

Louise McDaniel

Date of birth: 24 May 2000

Position: Midfielder

Club: Cliftonville

Although aged only 22 McDaniel is already a history maker twice over in Northern Ireland women’s international football. Back in 2017 she scored the country’s first goal in a major tournament in the Under-17 Euros – the draw against Scotland also gave Northern Ireland a first point at that level. In September 2021 her opening goal in the World Cup qualifier against Latvia made her the first female to score for Northern Ireland at Windsor Park. She enjoyed success at Linfield before earning a move to Blackburn Rovers, but was only there a short time before she headed to Heart of Midlothian in Scotland. However, Covid-19 spoiled that move and she returned home to join Cliftonville in April 2021.

Rachel Furness

Date of birth: 19 June 1988

Position: Midfielder

Club: Liverpool

Had things been different in her teens Furness could have been lining up against Northern Ireland this summer rather than pulling on the green jersey. Born in Newcastle upon Tyne she was overlooked by the Lionesses as a youngster because she was not at a club with a recognised academy at the time. That was Northern Ireland’s gain and since making her debut aged just 17 back in 2005 she has gone on to be the country’s record goalscorer. She qualifies for Northern Ireland through her Belfast-born mother and acknowledges her late grandfather – who sadly died before she won her first cap – with her goal celebrations. Like McFadden and Hutton she also had a spell playing in Iceland, where she worked in a fish factory and for the local council while a part-time player before earning full-time professional contracts with Reading, Tottenham and now Liverpool.

Lauren Wade

Date of birth: 22 November 1993

Position: Forward

Club: Glentoran

Wade’s name was flashed all across Europe back in 2020 when she scored a stunning goal for Glasgow City in a Women’s Champions League quarter-final tie against Wolfsburg. Unfortunately the German giants netted eight at the other end meaning her wonder strike did not receive quite as much attention as it deserved. Hip surgery as a teenager threatened to curb her career, but she was able to take up a university scholarship in the USA and played professionally in America before making the move to Glasgow. Her grandfather, Hugh Wade, is a former chairman of Irish League club Coleraine and was a high-ranking official in the Irish FA as well as running a prominent family business. Wade now combines working in the funeral directing business, which goes back a number of generations, and she is also the player to beat on the pool table when the squad is in camp.

Simone Magill

Date of birth: 1 November 1994

Position: Forward

Club: Free agent

Magill made history aged just 18 when she became the first female Northern Ireland player to sign a professional contract when she joined Everton. In the months prior to her move she combined trips to Merseyside with her A Level studies, often only flying back on a Monday morning and rushing into school. In June 2016 she set a new world record, scoring after just 11 seconds in a European Championship qualifier against Georgia to become the fastest goalscorer in women’s international football. She has been an ambassador for the Northern Ireland Children’s Hospice since her early 20s and has undertaken many fundraising activities for the charity. Alongside playing for Everton she earned a first class degree in coach education at Edge Hill University and is now studying for a PhD. She is a currently a free agent after leaving Everton on the expiry of her contract.

Kirsty McGuinness

Date of birth: 4 November 1994

Position: Forward

Club: Cliftonville

McGuinness’ sporting success isn’t just limited to the football field, she has won Gaelic Football County Championship medals with west-Belfast club St Paul’s, as well as the Ulster intermediate club title and an All-Ireland junior medal with Antrim a decade ago. She came through the same St Oliver Plunkett club that produced male internationals Jim Magilton, Anton Rogan and Philip Mulryne before tasting success with both Glentoran and Linfield, whom she captained to the Northern Ireland league title in 2019. Made her senior international debut aged just 15 and after a break from playing for the team timed her comeback perfectly for the final Women’s Euro 2022 qualifying games, appearing alongside sister Caitlin and making history when they both scored in the final group game against the Faroe Islands.

Caitlin McGuinness

Date of birth: 30 August 2002

Position: Forward

Club: Cliftonville

Caitlin and her older sister Kirsty are almost inseparable. Despite an eight-year age gap they have played on the same teams together for some time now, with their Gaelic Football club St Paul’s and then Linfield, Sion Swifts and now Cliftonville in the Northern Ireland league. Her full competitive international debut, however, came without her elder sibling beside her when she started the Women’s Euro 2022 qualifier away to Norway in October 2019. They played together for the first time a year later, becoming the first sisters to appear for Northern Ireland and went on to score in the same game when they both netted in the 5-1 win against the Faroe Islands that sealed their play-off place.

Emily Wilson

Date of birth: 26 August 2001

Position: Forward

Club: Crusaders Strikers

Wilson is among a batch of players that includes Abbie Magee and Louise McDaniel who have experienced the finals of a European Championship before, when Northern Ireland hosted the Under-19 finals in 2017. Despite her young age she has already played over 30 times at international through the various age groups, making her senior debut in the crucial home victory over Belarus, the penultimate Women’s Euro 2022 qualifying group game in the absence of Simone Magill. A sports studies student at the University of Ulster, she played hockey in her younger days and football for local boys’ club Antrim Roves before joining Glentoran and then moving on to Crusaders Strikers, where she has become established as their main striker. She was also a talented 100m sprinter at school.


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