Barrett’s goal for ’10 beautiful souls’ in tragedy

Amber Barrett paid tribute to the victims of the Creeslough tragedy after she hit her winner

“This is the best day of my life in terms of what we have done for football but when you put it into perspective then we don’t scratch the surface of what happened there on Friday.”

It was a goal for 10 “beautiful souls” who are no longer with us. A goal for a village, a county and an entire country.

Amber Barrett’s strike that sent the Republic of Ireland to the World Cup next summer will go down in history, but it is also one that is tinged with tragedy and heartbreak.

On Friday the Donegal village of Creeslough was hit by a devastating gas explosion that led to 10 people losing their lives. Children, mothers, fathers – it’s rippled to the core of Irish society.

The first funerals of the victims took place on Tuesday morning. Later that night it was a woman from Donegal who created history.

Hailing from Milford, just 25 minutes from Creeslough, it was fitting that Barrett had the final say on a historic night.

Her celebration was full of emotion as she kissed the black armband on her left arm and she was embraced by the piles of orange shirts who raced with her to the corner.

Tears were back in her eyes at the final whistle, and she was wrapped in the county flag of Donegal as she spoke after the game.

“I’ve not been able to put into words about it. There has been a sombreness about me the past few days,” Barrett told RTE.

“This result, this game, that goal, this award – I’m dedicating it to those 10 beautiful souls who unfortunately perished on Friday.

“For all their families, because I know they touched their lives. They certainly touched ours.”

Top row left to right: Shauna Flanagan Garwe and her father Robert Garwe, Leona Harper, Hugh Kelly, Jessica Gallagher. Bottom row left to right: Martin McGill, James O'Flaherty, Martina Martin, Catherine O'Donnell and son James Monaghan
Top row left to right: Shauna Flanagan Garwe and her father Robert Garwe, Leona Harper, Hugh Kelly, Jessica Gallagher. Bottom row left to right: Martin McGill, James O’Flaherty, Martina Martin, Catherine O’Donnell and son James Monaghan

It’s hard to describe how close-knit communities are in the north-west of Ireland, especially in the various villages and towns that are scattered about its most beautiful counties.

When tragedy hits they are brought closer together, and Barrett added “this is for Creeslough, this is for Donegal”.

“I know Creeslough like the back of my hand. Both my grandparents were Creeslough born and bred,” she said.

“I spent my whole upbringing there, all my summers and Christmases I go back. My uncle is still living in Creeslough.

“I know people who died in the tragedy, I know people who were affected by the tragedy. I know people who were first at the scene at the tragedy.”

‘She better put me on the plane’

The Republic of Ireland celebrate
Barrett held Donegal’s county flag as the Republic of Ireland celebrated their victory

On the pitch just six minutes, Barrett’s goal, which she admits was a “toe poke”, came in a tense encounter at Hampden Park.

Scotland midfielder Caroline Weir saw a first-half penalty saved by Courtney Brosnan and the hosts somehow came out of a goalmouth scramble on the stroke of half-time.

Then, in a moment of quality as she collected Denise O’Sullivan’s superb through ball, Barrett took one touch away from her marker and poked the ball into the bottom corner with 18 minutes to play.

“That was the longest 20 minutes of my life when that goal went in. I kept checking the clock every 30 seconds,” said the Turbine Potsdam forward.

“I’ve said it 100 times since the game finished. I do not know what we have just done.

“I cannot believe it, but seeing the people who have travelled here, seeing the people at home who are watching, this is for every single one of them.

“This is for all the young kids growing up. Now they have something to dream for and I’m so proud to be part of this team.”

And what about next summer and a place on the plane to Australia and New Zealand? For someone who said she was lost for words at the beginning on the interview, she had certainly found her mojo come the end as she referenced Ireland manager Vera Pauw.

“Well, that’s down to Vera now. If she wants to win the World Cup she better put me on the plane,” Barrett said.

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