Sports Review 2023: Katie McCabe’s magical touch lights up Tallaght Stadium

The Republic of Ireland captain and Arsenal star showed her true quality with a mesmerising run in the victory over Albania

Nations League, Republic of Ireland 5 Albania 1, Tallaght Stadium, October 27th

Memories from 2023 stray to Perth and Katie McCabe’s goal from a corner in the teeming rain. Or we can return to Sydney as Abbie Larkin and McCabe terrorised a back-pedalling Australia defence in the stadium where Sonia O’Sullivan won Olympic silver.

But, for me, the lasting memory is a Tallaght night in October when a local street ‘baller performed seven touches and one little shimmy.

Count them because they about sum up McCabe.

Sprinting to the right back position to dispossess an Albanian on the edge of the Ireland box, most Irish internationals would then have put their foot on the ball. Some might look to switch the play. Plenty would go long. McCabe though took off on a run reminiscent of Diego Maradona.

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Four toe-jabs and a feint had her over halfway, bursting past two Albanians before slowing so Kyra Carusa’s support was rewarded with a simple pass.

“Aw, yes, two taken out with one little shimmy,” said George Hamilton on commentary as Carusa chipped the goalkeeper. “Let’s remember that begun with a corner for Albania. Absolutely magnificent from Katie McCabe.”

Sublime, solid, freewheeling too. McCabe actually made a good attempt at one-upping herself in Belfast in December. Languidly evading four Northern Ireland players before punching a right-foot effort to the top corner. Even her team-mates were caught unawares.

“Awww,” went George as Carusa covered her head with both hands as if to say: “Did You See That?” We did.

Honourable mention: Séamus Coleman keeping Kylian Mbappé under wraps during the Euros qualifier in Dublin last March. One clean page in an otherwise blotted campaign for the senior men.

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