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Stormont leaders hail NI’s history making women footballers

David Young, PA
·2 min read

Northern Ireland’s political leaders have hailed the region’s history making women’s footballers after they reached their first ever major tournament.

Arlene Foster and Michelle O’Neill led tributes to the international team after they secured qualification for the Euro 2022 championships with a convincing play-off win over Ukraine.

There were ecstatic scenes on the pitch at Seaview in Belfast following the 2-0 win on Tuesday night.

The result, coming on the back of a 2-1 first leg win in Ukraine last Friday, sealed their passage to the tournament in England next summer.

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The achievement comes 17 years after the women’s team was reformed in 2004.

First Minister Mrs Foster said the women had cracked a glass ceiling.

“Fantastic for @NorthernIreland another crack in the glass ceiling,” she tweeted.

“So proud of all this team has achieved. Just what the country needs at the moment. Thank you history makers. #GAWA #gamechangersNI #HeadingToTheEuros.”

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Deputy First Minister Ms O’Neill praised captain Marissa Callaghan, who opened the scoring on Tuesday night, and her teammates.

“A fantastic result for women in sport tonight,” she tweeted.

“Congratulations to Marissa Callaghan and the rest of the squad. #Inspirational #HistoryMakers.”

Stormont Sports Minister Deirdre Hargey tweeted: “Well done to the @NorthernIreland team in qualifying for the @UEFAWomensEURO
tonight, what an achievement.”

Former Northern Ireland secretary Julian Smith also congratulated the team.

“Fantastic result – and fantastic example for those of us with young daughters who aspire to be Messi – well done!” he tweeted.

SDLP MP Claire Hanna said: “Brilliant result, what an achievement and something to look forward to.”

There was also praise from other sporting codes, with Ulster Rugby tweeting its congratulations to the team.

“Absolutely fantastic!” the team tweeted. “Huge congratulations.”