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Saturday 16 November 2019

Jarrett's goal-den joy

Rianna hits net and adds two assists in victory

Wexford’s Rianna Jarrett celebrating her first-ever goal for Ireland against Ukraine in Tallaght on Tuesday
Wexford’s Rianna Jarrett celebrating her first-ever goal for Ireland against Ukraine in Tallaght on Tuesday

Wexford striker Rianna Jarrett had the game of her life before a bumper crowd in Tallaght Stadium on Tuesday, with her first international goal plus two assists inspiring the Republic of Ireland Senior women's team to a 3-2 victory over Ukraine.

It was an outstanding display from the Youths player, the only non-professional in the winners' starting eleven.

And to cap a week to remember, she added a brace of goals for her club in Ferrycarrig Park four nights later when they defeated Galway 4-2 to qualify for another FAI Women's Cup final in the Aviva Stadium on November 3.

Rianna, whose battle back from three cruciate ligament injuries has been well documented, posed early problems for Ukraine before a record 5,328 crowd in Tuesday's Euro 2021 qualifier.

While her half-volley sailed over the bar, she played the key role in the opening goal in the 25th minute.

After breaking down the left and patiently waiting for support, she pulled the ball back for captain Katie McCabe to guide it to the net.

Four minutes later, Jarrett was celebrating her first-ever goal for her country after heading home a corner from the right taken by McCabe.

While Ukraine hit back to go in at half-time on level terms (2-2), the talented Wexford attacker crowned her player of the match performance in the 53rd minute with a second assist for the decisive goal.

She broke down the left and her cut-back caused panic, with Denise O'Sullivan getting a touch on the ball before a defender deflected it into her own net.

'To be honest, words can't even describe the week I'm after having,' she said after her club's semi-final win in Ferrycarrig Park on Saturday.

'Tuesday was fantastic, definitely a night I won't forget for a long time.

'I was delighted to get my first goal Tuesday, but once that finished all focus turned to today,' she explained.

'We knew that Galway were going to come and give us a battle, they always do, and credit to them, but two wins in the one week and into the final now in the Aviva, so it's definitely been a week to remember.'

Looking back on her first goal for her country, Jarrett said: 'I probably won't score an easier goal or a handier goal in an Ireland jersey, but what a feeling when I saw it go in the back of the net.

'I think that was my ninth international cap now, and as a striker you always want to score goals. I suppose the longer you go without a goal, the more you start to question yourself, but I've been decent enough in front of goal for the club this year so it's nice that I can get that in an Ireland jersey as well.

'Hopefully it's not the last, hopefully I can get a few more, but the most important thing from Tuesday is that we got that win.

'We're six points from six now in our qualification campaign, and we're looking to end this year with a win against Greece away as well,' she added.

'I've been back in the set-up a while and I've had dribs and drabs, and I got my first start against Northern Ireland last year.

'Looking back on it, I didn't really touch the ball as much I would have liked to even though we won 4-0, and even going back to the Montenegro game, we won 2-0 and likewise I just felt I didn't get on the ball enough for my liking.'

Explaning that new manager Vera Pauw wanted her side to be more purposeful on the ball, Jarrett felt that the team followed her guidelines.

'I think I did myself justice, I was good on the ball, and offered a threat in behind which up until this season wouldn't have been a strength of mine.'

While Jarrett's likely progress to the professional game was halted by those unfortunate injuries, she's quite happy to keep giving her all for Wexford until a potential offer comes along.

'There's no interest that I know of, but naturally you're always looking to make that next step, you're always looking to push yourself,' she said.

'I do feel like maybe now I am ready to go and see if I can test myself against the best and see if I can get a move somewhere in Europe.

'If something comes calling and it's the right offer and it's good for me as both an individual and a player, then by all means I'd definitely take a serious look at it.

'But we've got a cup final to go and win and we've also got three league games to finish off the season, so that's where my focus is now.'

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