Irish Times Sport Irleand Sportswoman of the Month - March
The winner of The Irish Times Sport Ireland Sportswoman Award for March 2020 is soccer player, Diane Caldwell.
The Balbriggan native, who plays her club football with SC Sand in Germany, is recognized for scoring critical goals against Greece and Montenegro in the Ireland campaign for Euro 2021 qualification.
It seems like a lifetime and a half ago when Ireland took on Greece in Tallaght in their Euro 2021 qualifying game, before heading to Montenegro for another group fixture six days later. Come the end of the two games, from which they took maximum points, Vera Pauw’s side found themselves top of the table.
Who knows when they’ll get to resume their campaign, but when they do they’ll be in the best position any Irish side has ever been to qualify for a major tournament.
The mighty Germany, a point adrift but with a game in hand, remain firm favourites to win the group, Ireland still having to play them home and away, but with three qualifying spots up for grabs for the best runners-up, there’s reason to be hopeful. Failing that, the play-offs provide another route to the finals in England which have been moved to 2022.
Neither of those March victories was pretty perhaps, but it’s a case of never mind the quality, count the points. The failure in the past to beat similar opposition always proved costly for Ireland, but they now have the look of a team that knows how to win even when the performance isn’t up to par.
The experienced central defensive pairing of Diane Caldwell and Louise Quinn has been a major factor in Ireland’s progress, just three goals getting past them in the five games so far. But they had a significant impact at the other end of the pitch too in the March games, Caldwell scoring critical goals in both.
For her defensive work and for her form at the back through the campaign so far Caldwell deserves saluting. Add in two crucial goals and she rightly deserves to be named The Irish Times Sport Ireland Sportswoman of the Month for March 2020.
With any luck, we’ll see Caldwell and her Irish team-mates back in action soon.
Read the full Irish Times article here.