It has been a season of firsts for football in the Republic of Ireland, and Peamount United will join the list of pioneers when the Dublin club take on Paris Saint-Germain FC in the UEFA Women's Champions League round of 32.
The suburb of Tallaght has, until now, been known mainly as a breeding ground for players, as senior men's Irish internationals like Robbie Keane, Richard Dunne and Keith Fahey all grew up there. However, the 9,500-capacity Tallaght Stadium hosted the historic UEFA Europa League meeting between Shamrock Rovers FC and FC Rubin Kazan, the first time an Irish club competed in any senior club group stage, and the venue will also be the home ground for Peamount on Wednesday as they embark on a remarkable journey.
"It is great to have Tallaght Stadium as the venue and it will be a good showcase for us," said Peamount's Ann Meehan, with the club – who were only founded in 1983 – still celebrating their achievement in getting through August's qualifying round. "We are still on a high. There is a lot of excitement and we are ready to go for it. We are positive and confident."
Peamount pulled off a major coup in securing Tallaght Stadium for their home games, and the Dublin outfit are leaving nothing to chance in their preparations for the tie, as team manager Elaine Gleeson and director of coaching Jason Carey travelled to France to spy on European debutants PSG in a league game. It is a sign of Peamount's success this season that the club are making an impact on the international stage; they had five players in the Republic of Ireland squad for last week's UEFA Women's EURO 2013 qualifiers against Wales and France.
Glesson's side had to work hard for their place in the knockout stage, starting with a last-gasp 1-0 loss to highly rated Rayo Vallecano de Madrid but then beating ŽNK Krka 7-0 and Pärnu JK 5-1 to go through as one of the two best runners-up. Peamount's progress in Europe is timely, as the newly-founded National Women's League has also kicked off in 2011, with seven clubs participating, including Shamrock Rovers.
"This is a very exciting time for women's football in Ireland," said national coach Susan Ronan. "The new National Women's League will continue to nurture and develop the women's game at domestic and international level. This new National League will be a cornerstone in the future success of our game."
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