Courtney Brosnan says playing for Republic gives her a ‘connection’ to family

Goalkeeper Courtney Brosnan is sure her grandparents would be beaming with pride if they had lived long enough to see her play in the Republic of Ireland’s World Cup debut.

The Girls in Green kick off their campaign against tournament co-hosts Australia at 1100 BST in front of a sold-out crowd at Stadium Australia after a lawsuit forced organizers to move the meeting to the competition’s largest venue.

The Everton goalkeeper is eligible for Republic through her paternal grandparents Margaret and Brendan, who were born in Roscommon and Kerry but later emigrated to the United States, where Brosnan was born and raised.

When asked how she balances her dual identities as a New Jersey native by wearing a Republic jersey, Brosnan said: “I think it’s amazing. I feel like it’s really special because I feel like I can learn a lot about my family.

“They are both passed away now, but I think it’s amazing for me to see it.

“I know how close my father was to them too, and to be able to play for Ireland and still have that connection to them, even if they’re not here, it’s really hard to put into words how special it is.

“It just gives me an amazing opportunity to see all the different parts of my family’s history. They passed away when I was 15 or 16, but growing up it was weekend trips all the time and we were very close.

“They were from a place called Springfield, Massachusetts and they grew up there when they came from Ireland. They lived in the same house all their lives, so it’s great.”

Brosnan recorded five clean sheets in World Cup qualifiers, also denying Real Madrid’s Caroline Weir the vital first-half penalty that would have given Scotland a 1-0 lead in the Cup play-off of the World to decide which team would make it to the tournament.

Instead, Brosnan’s save allowed substitute Amber Barrett to dive in after the restart and score, her strike being enough to ensure Republic won 1-0 and seal the momentous result.

She said: “Amber and I laugh because people come up to her and say, ‘Oh, you’re the best goalie I know,’ and people come up to me and say, ‘Oh, what an ending!’ and I’m like, ‘Okay, I know we’re both redheads, but we’re different people!’”

Surely more people will notice the difference after the Republic leave Stadium Australia to begin the next exciting chapter of their story, before taking on Canada and Nigeria to conclude the group stage.

Brosnan added: “I think it’s a very, very special moment that we get to be a part of.

“This is something we’ve always dreamed of, then there’s the added bonus that you’re playing the host country, that the crowd is so big, that this is our first World Cup.

“We have discussed very openly about how we know the quality of the group we are in and the competition is really fierce. I think being an underdog is part of being Irish, that you love that challenge and to step up, take on a big dog and show what you’re capable of.

“We are not here just to participate. This is something we’ve been working on for years and years. We are doing everything we can to put ourselves in the best position to get results.”

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