Louise Quinn: 'My biggest memory was walking up the stairs to collect the silver medal and I saw my family on the way'

Tue, Jul 24 2018

Quinn (centre) pictured following a 9-0 European qualification win over Montenegro. Credit: Laszlo Geczo (ETPhotos)

It has been a hectic year for Republic of Ireland and Arsenal centre back Louise Quinn.

She played in front of over 45,000 people in the FA Cup final at Wembley, was rewarded with a new contract at Arsenal, and mader her punditry debut as part of the World Cup team for RTE.

New challenges and brave steps to take, but Quinn is taking it all in her stride and enjoying the new experiences and opportunities being presented to her as a result of lots of hard work.

She sat down with extratime.ie to chat about her eventful year, and the interesting journey she has taken to get to where she is now.

The 28-year-old, from Blessington in Co Wicklow, began her senior career Women’s National League team Peamount United and has very fond memories of the team that gave her the start she sought.

“Peamount United will forever be my club – I love it,” said Quinn.

“They helped me grow as a player and person and to have someone like Denis Cummins in that club they are so lucky.

“He is a great person and they really have set a standard in terms of facilities and bringing in Eileen Gleeson as a top coach.

“I'm not entirely sure of the grassroots set up in Ireland but from what I do know I think they are creating a lot of pathways for those girls.

“If they have the determination to keep going there will be great things happening in women's football in Ireland in the future.

“The support we are getting from the girls teams all over the country has been amazing.

“More and more people are coming along to watch the international team and are travelling to our games and that's a huge positive for us.

“Being role models is very important to our national team and the support we've had over the last year on the international front is the best it has ever been.”

During a nine-and-a-half year stint with the club, Quinn captained Peamount to the 2008 FAI Cup final against St. Francis, the inaugural Women’ National League championship title in 2012 and topped it off by scoring a hat-trick in the Champions League against ZNK Krka of Slovenia.

Her time at the club allowed her to show the leadership and quality necessary to be rewarded in 2013 with a move to Eskilstuna United in Sweden.

It was a very brave and risky move to sign for a club or a league she didn’t really know much about at the time, but looking back on her time she says it was actually the best thing she ever could have done in terms of development and maturity as a footballer.

“I definitely took a chance going to Eskilstuna but it was the best decision I could have made,” she said about her move from Peamount to the Swedish side.

“I am a person who would get home sick quite easily and always will be but what we achieved out there and the level we got to (starting in Division 2 and then reaching the last eight of the Women’s Champions League) in four years was incredible.

“To live in a completely new country was amazing, I wouldn't change any of it at all and if younger footballers were thinking of doing it I'd say go for it.

“You can always come home if it doesn’t work out but I don't think they would once they left!”

Quinn proved a success in Sweden and brought extremely high standards as she helped the club to the league title and promotion in her first year.

Just two years later the team finished second in the Swedish top division, where Quinn was an ever-present.

Five years after her Champions League debut with Peamount, she got to compete once again with Eskilstuna before deciding to leave the club at the end of 2016.

Louise was at Notts County for just three months before financial trouble resulted in the club folding on the eve of their first game, leaving her without a club.

It wasn’t long before clubs started to show interest and Arsenal won the race to secure her signature, initially on a short-term deal before offering her a longer contract as a result of her consistent performances.

At the start of the 2017 season Louise had to be content with contributing as a substitute but as a result of hard work, self-belief and improving confidence, she worked her way into the manager's plans.

She is now an ever-present at the back, and just last month her stand-out performances were rewarded with a new four-year contract.

“A lot of it is just positive thoughts and hard work,” she explained about how she maintains such focus and motivation at all times.

“Sometimes some visualisation of even to when you played as a kid. The happiest of times and then you bring that thought onto the pitch and it really helps.

“I don't do anything too specific apart from staying relaxed really. Yoga and other techniques are great for some players and others don't get their buzz from it, so as a team it's about figuring out what your teammates need to get them ready for a game.”

“My time here has been hugely positive overall. During the Spring Series I got to understand the style of football that is played in England and at Arsenal.

“When the 2017 season started, I suppose it didn't go how I wanted because I wasn’t playing at all but I kept my head down and worked hard for the team and myself.

“As a result of that, after Christmas it all started to piece together and playing full-time football was great.

“I am now playing regular football and my ambitions now are just to keep myself fit and healthy and to keep getting myself into that starting 11. I am usually a short-term goal kind of person!”

One of the highlights for Quinn since working herself into the first team has been lining out in the FA Cup Final in front of a tournament-record crowd of 45,000 at Wembley.

Fellow international Katie McCabe was also involved, but it was a bittersweet day for the girls and the rest of the Arsenal squad.

An FA Cup final in Wembley is a memory they will forever cherish together despite losing the game 3-1 to Chelsea.

“It really was a crazy day but I took it like many others and just tried to stay relaxed,” she said.

“It didn't go our way and we should have performed better but it just didn't happen for us. To be there with my good friend Katie as well felt great as you always want another Irish teammate there with you.

“My biggest memory was actually walking up the stairs to collect the silver medal and I saw my family on the way up.

“I teared up as I just wanted to make them proud because they support me so much.”

Having played both, Quinn can see quite a few differences between the Women's National League in Ireland and England's Super League in terms of development, but also believes the league is in a better place than it’s ever been and is improving all the time.

“I think at the moment there are differences alright. Almost all of the players and staff [in England] are full-time and have the facilities to follow.

“It helps to be attached to a men's team too. And this league has just been around a lot longer so of course there will be differences.

“The English team players also have central contracts that keeps them in England to play so they are keeping their quality players in the same country, which helps clubwise and national team-wise as well.

“I'm not entirely sure I can comment on the standard in the Women’s National League fully as I haven't been in the league for a while to know that set up.

“It does seem to be more competitive and the quality of players is growing and I think that's helping with the national team as well and the progression we are starting to see”

“Ultimately it needs players to be training at least 5 times a week and the league needs sponsors and people who are willing to invest in the product.

“That may just take another few years to flourish but it will.”

She added: “Attendances can be helped by the clubs and players themselves too if they feel there isn't enough being done.

“People need to know more about the league before they just invest in a team and it is generally down to money which is tough.”

It goes without saying it has been a bit of a whirlwind year for Louise Quinn but a year full of new and exciting experiences.

Her focus now turns to the new season and their pre-season programme which begins with a friendly on the 5th of August against Juventus.