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Promising duo follow success of siblings

By Gareth Maher

SISTERS really are doing it for themselves as Julie-Ann Russell and Katie Mc Cabe continue to prove that the footballing genes in their families were not just given to their respective brothers.

 

Two of the most promising Irish youngsters in the women’s game, both are quickly catching up on theirRussel _McCabe siblings — John Russell and Gary McCabe — who are recognisable, and successful, Airtricity League players.

Yet, their rise has more to do with the growth of women’s football on these shores rather than any sense of familial rivalry. And the creation of the Women’s National League has been key. Currently second in the league with Raheny United, McCabe has been one of the stand-out players since it all kicked off last November, while Russell recently clinched a move to England after impressing with Peamount United.

Still in its early stages, the domestic league has a long way to go. But it does provide a platform for the best young girls around the country to further their development and help raise the overall standard. However, women’s football does not yet offer the kind of security that the men’s game does — unless they are playing in the USA’s professional WPS League — and that’s why Russell has put her studies first.

 

The Galway native, who spent time in the league below the WPS playing for LA Strikers, joined Doncaster Belles this month to double up as their new marquee attacker and part-time marketing assistant. ‘I’m in college in Limerick doing Business Studies and majoring in Marketing. So when the opportunity came up at Doncaster to do the work experience and play football, I jumped at it,’ said Russell. You can’t rely on women’s football alone, so that’s why I want to get my academics done and have something to make a career from. ‘I’m aiming to play professional football — that would be the big target. But college is really important right now and I don’t want to let that slide even though the football is going well.’

Russell, now a full Republic of Ireland international, has the talent required to reach the professional level and shares coolness in possession with her brother John, who will sign for St Patrick’s Athletic this week.

The 20-year-old has already made some noticeable strides, including playing in the Women’s Champions League with Peamount, but McCabe still has some way to go. After all, she is still in fourth year in school. Both clearly have benefited from growing up alongside football obsessed brothers. So surely McCabe has been picking up tips from Gary, who plays for Shamrock Rovers?

‘Yeah, Gary has been a big influence. He was always telling me not to be afraid when I played with boys all the way up to Under 12’s. He has been a role model for me,’ said McCabe.

‘I would mirror my game on him — watching how he moves because he plays in a similar position.’

With the domestic league expected to grow over the coming years and stars like Russell and McCabe already shining, women’s football in Ireland is most certainly on the rise.

 

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