Ireland's newest recruit, Caitlin Hayes, has claimed that she won't have many better weeks than the one she experienced last week, after she made her debut for the Republic of Ireland women's team at the Aviva Stadium on Saturday.
The Irish team played their first-ever game at the famous Lansdowne Road venue and approximately 36,000 supporters turned up to watch the Girls in Green defeat Northern Ireland 3-0. Lucy Quinn opened the scoring for the home side on the half-hour mark, followed by second-half goals from Kyra Carusa and Lily Agg, securing Ireland's first three points in the Nations League.
One person who made her debut in front of a packed house was Celtic's Caitlin Hayes. The Celtic defender is the current PFA Women's Player of the Year and qualifies for Ireland through her Offaly-born grandfather, James. Hayes was called up to the squad by Interim Head Coach Eileen Gleeson on Friday morning and appeared right at home during her Ireland debut.
Speaking about her Girls in Green debut, the 28-year-old claimed that she had been trying to gain Irish eligibility for quite some time and expressed her gratitude for finally achieving it.
"I'm proud to play for a club like Celtic and even prouder to play for a country like Ireland."
Ireland debutant Caitlin Hayes sums up her feelings after a whirlwind 24 hours. #IRLWNT #COYGIG pic.twitter.com/SkxOKFTacb
— RTÉ Soccer (@RTEsoccer) September 23, 2023
"It's been a whirlwind week, and I'm savouring every minute," she said. "I've had the honour of playing at Celtic Park, and playing here is just as good. You can't get two better stadiums, in my opinion, so I'm just thankful. I've been trying [to gain Irish eligibility] for a while, but I'm a firm believer in what's for you won't pass you. So I've been sitting, working with my club, Celtic, and I've been patiently waiting for an opportunity like [Saturday]. I'm just honoured and privileged to be able to take it."
Hayes also celebrated her 28th birthday last week. The Celtic star revealed that her grandfather, James, only gave her two choices when it came to club and country every Christmas.
"Ireland tops and Celtic tops were given to me each Christmas and birthday by my grandfather," she added. "It's something that was definitely inherited from them. It was kind of that team that you had to support, and you didn't really have a choice. It was something you were given. It's in my blood, and I'm just thankful to be here."
Ireland's next game will be against Hungary on Tuesday, kicking off at 6:30 pm.
Competition: UEFA Women's Nations League League B - Group B1.
Venue: Hidegkuti Nándor Stadium, Budapest.
Date and time: 26th Sep 2023, 18:30.