In an exclusive interview with Irish Football Fan TV, Republic of Ireland international Megan Connolly shared her thoughts and emotions as she prepares to represent her country in the upcoming Women’s World Cup. With the squad announcements made and the tournament on the horizon, Connolly expressed her excitement, gratitude, and the sense of accomplishment within the team.

“It’s still quite surreal,” Connolly admitted, reflecting on her selection for the World Cup squad. “We’ve been training for the last few weeks, and everyone has been fighting for their places. Finding out the team just two days ago made it feel more real. It’s the greatest honor, and I believe it will truly sink in when we arrive in Australia, stepping foot on that plane and experiencing the enormity of one of the biggest tournaments in the world.”

Connolly expressed her pride in the team’s journey, acknowledging the remarkable progress they have made in recent years. “We’ve come a long way, especially after the Ukraine game where we didn’t qualify for the Euros. That was a turning point for us. We knew what we could achieve and what we could do, and this campaign became our focus. Despite the challenges we faced, we all believed we could make an impact. The support from sponsors like Skye has been incredible, making us more visible and garnering support from everyone.”

When discussing significant moments from the campaign, Connolly highlighted the away game against Finland as a turning point. “After losing to Sweden, we knew we needed results against Finland. Scoring an early goal in that game and sensing the shift in the atmosphere, it felt like a moment where we realized we could accomplish something special. It gave us confidence and propelled us to keep pushing forward.”

The midfielder also touched upon personal setbacks, including an injury that prevented her from participating in the crucial Scotland game. “Breaking my ribs during the Finland game was tough, but I accepted it quickly. I was fortunate to have my family there to celebrate with me at home. It was surreal to be with them during that moment, as they’ve been a significant part of my journey. Although I couldn’t be in Scotland, sharing that experience with my parents was truly special.”

Connolly acknowledged the tremendous growth and attention Irish women’s football has garnered in recent years. “Everything has grown exponentially. The media coverage, the crowds, the anticipation surrounding the World Cup. Playing at the Aviva Stadium after the tournament will be an incredible experience with so many people attending. It’s still surreal to see the support, like the art piece near my house, reminding me that I’m part of something significant.”

When asked about her favorite tournament moments, Connolly mentioned the USA’s victory in the 2015 World Cup, which occurred just before she headed to America to join Florida State University. “Being a massive USA fan, that tournament was unforgettable for me. I dreamed of being on that stage, witnessing the team’s success and the tremendous support they received. Now, as I prepare for the Women’s World Cup, I realise I’m about to live that dream.”

As the interview drew to a close, Connolly expressed her excitement and nerves, which she sees as a mix of anticipation and positive energy. “I trust the team and believe in our abilities. I’m eager to compete against the best players in the world, to test ourselves, and make our country proud. We want to embrace this opportunity and leave everything on the field.”