Michelle O'Neill has come a long way from Rackard League

August 16, 2019

Referee Michelle O'Neill. ©INPHO/Laszlo Geczo.

The first girl to play football in the Rackard League (Wexford’s Cumann na mBunscol) many years ago, Michelle O'Neill overcame another gender barrier when she was part of an all-female officiating team at Wednesday night's Super Cup in Istanbul.

Stephanie Frappart from France became the first woman to referee a major men's European soccer game when she handled the Liverpool-Chelsea final, which the Reds won on penalties, and she was ably assisted by lineswomen O'Neill and Manuela Nicolosi of Italy.

It was a proud moment for the 40-year-old from Enniscorthy who referees in the FAI Continental Tyres Women's National League and is an assistant referee in the SSE Airtricity League.

Liverpool manager Jurgen Klopp was full of praise for the female officials, telling the club's website: "I told the ref team after the game that if we'd played like they whistled, we would have won 6-0.

"That was my absolute opinion. They played a brilliant game. They were really good. Whatever you could have thought before the game, there was pressure on them like hell with an historic moment.

"Staying by yourself, staying calm and do what you have to do, decide very important things in a very difficult and intense game, I couldn’t have more respect, to be honest. It was really a brilliant performance."

Follow live coverage of Sunday's All-Ireland hurling finals on the hoganstand.com match tracker.

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