In JULY 2018, Niam Fahi signed a contract with Liverpool. A lifelong fan of the Reds, it was a dream move when she returned to the English Premier League after working with Bordeaux in France.
Now a centurion of the Republic of Ireland, the former star defender of Chelsea and Arsenal has made a significant impact during his first season at Merseyside and has been appointed vice-captain.
The children’s dream reached new heights in August 2020 when she was appointed captain; The winner of Galway in 2004, who was entrusted to lead the army after relegation from the Women’s Super League [WSL].
The return to the major leagues is now within limits as Liverpool are at the top of the table by 10 points. Their dream of the FA Cup is also alive and well, with a massive clash ahead this weekend.
And Feihi is leading the Irish contingent, the main one in the recent turn of the Reds.
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In June 2021, Leanne Kiernan signed with West Ham, and two days later the transfer of Megan Campbell from Manchester City was confirmed. The presence of team-mate Feihi was a sure factor in both moves, while Kiernan contacted former Hammers boss Matt Byrd.
Another Cavanaugh native soon joined the reunion as a strength and fitness coach, Colm Smith, so it’s fair to say there’s no shortage of Irish influence in the setup.
“I feel at home through the water,” says Kiernan, the league’s top scorer with 12 goals this season. “Nyam is one of the reasons why I was attracted to the club, it deserves its 100 matches for the matches it has. It’s a really good atmosphere, really good people around me, it’s all good conditions to grow as a player. “
Campbell, who has seen her career with injuries revived in the Reds, shares those sentiments. “For me, it’s 100% the best team I’ve ever been part of in terms of cohesion, in terms of everyone wanting to work well for each other and succeed on and off the field,” she smiles.
“I go in and out with more energy than when I came in. Normally you wouldn’t be like that because you leave workout tired, but I can’t wait to start training in the morning and I love the days of travel, love being on and around the team.
“It’s definitely the best environment for me and it was the best decision I could make in my career. I was very lucky to be close to a good team, a good group of players, but also a good staff in Matt [Beard] and the rest who really cared about me. ”
Smith on the training field.
Source: Liverpool FC.
Smith is one of them; Kirnan’s close neighbor from home. He’s from Kingscorth, while she calls Baliboro home – “the other side of the hill, the dark side,” – laughs Smith.
Having started his career in London a few years ago, working in the GAA and then in rugby with Harlequins, Ealing Trailfinders and Esher, he has been involved in women’s football circles ever since becoming a Chelsea academy.
Moving north and a change of scenery when he considers all aspects of Liverpool’s physical activities have brought dividends.
“I like it here, I love people, I love the environment,” Smith said club website in November. “There is a very friendly atmosphere between the players and the staff, and it is, to put it mildly, very nice.
“The girls are brilliant, the energy they bring every day is great, as is the staff, to be fair. It’s a very healthy environment. “
This connection to home has certainly helped Kearnan, and she hails Smith as a “big” impact on her career, especially after the recent injuries she has overcome.
“I’m a very explosive player, so I need to work on the strength of the hamstring to just be able to work out in the gym and not lose pace for me,” she explains. “I’ve been working with him for the last three years and he’s been great.
“He knows how to manage my workload, it’s nice that I can trust someone like that. He was wonderful. It’s hard to say in his face, but he’s a good guy! “
With Northern Ireland star Rachel Furness also in the books, Feihi, Kiernan and Campbell make no secret of the fact that advancing back to the WSL was a major goal and challenge even before the season began.
They know that Liverpool, as a club, has to be in the major leagues and they know exactly what they need to do to get there.
“Where we are, you could not ask for everything to be better so far, 10 points behind, but” London City “is having a good fight, and he has not won yet,” – said the captain.
“We have a lot of tough games along the way, we’re in a good position, but that’s all we take every game the way it comes, we need to finish it and bring it to an end.”
Kiernan celebrates a goal with teammates.
There will also be a giant FA Cup match on Sunday [KO 12pm, live on RTÉ News, BBC red button and the FA Player] against Arsenal; The leaders of the WSL and the championship will meet in the fifth round of the competition, and Katie McCabe among the opposition.
This is a “big test”, although “Liverpool has nothing to lose” and he will work with confidence, says 22-year-old Kirnan, and Campbell adds:
“The FA Cup is a very prestigious competition, a prestigious award that you get at the end, and playing with a team like Arsenal that has won it many, many times is an incredible thing for us.
“To compete with the best of the best and put yourself there to hopefully come next season when we get a raise, you have the experience of playing against them and you know where we need to be. And what additional steps we need to take to reach this level. “
As Kiernan emphasizes, “It’s a really exciting time at the club.” However, there is very little interaction with Jurgen Klopp’s first team. With Tranmere there is much more as they play and train at their facilities, in Prenton Park and on campus, while the men’s Reds team is based in Kirkby and Anfield.
All that Liverpool is coming back to the forefront of the Irish trio after international commitment to the Pinatar Cup in Spain.
Vera Paw finished the friendly tournament in third place after victories over Poland and Wales and a small defeat by Russia, when preparations for the resumption of qualification for the 2023 World Cup against Sweden began in April.
This was Campbell’s first participation in the Irish national team after a long time due to injury, so the stay of Feiha and Kiernan in the camp made her life much easier. The second couple agrees that it’s great to have each other both at the club and in the country, “friendly faces” and “bit craic” are always a joy, according to Feihi.
It was in Pinator’s opening match against Poland that the Galway native won her 100th match; an incredible feat for an incredible player and person.
“Oh, that’s incredible,” Campbell nods. “I think it is a merit and a testament to how far this game has gone in the national team. She was there all the way; she is a prop and she is incredible.
Feihi in action last month.
“I mean, I’ve watched it since childhood, and I know that many, many of the players are doing it too. The opportunity to see or assemble this hundredth hat was incredible. Luckily, some of her family were also able to go over and see her, which was nice.
“She hasn’t finished yet, she still has a long way to go, but it’s great that she’s in the lineup. Her energy, I don’t even know what to say: everyone just knows who Niam Feihi is and what she brings to the team as well as the field. She is incredible. “
Likewise, after returning, Fayhee said a few kind words to Campbell – and, of course, to Kearnan: with an injury. “
The same goes for Campbell, only perhaps tougher. “It’s huge that Megan is fortunately in shape again, and hopefully now for her she will also succeed.
“She did very well this season for Liverpool as she came back after Christmas, she had such an amazing effect with us with assists and winning over us in a few games.
“Especially with such a long throw, she is very important in set figures. But not only that, she is a fantastic footballer, so she is a huge asset for Liverpool and also returned to the Irish team. “
So, three of them. And another on staff.
The Irish contingent is central in Liverpool’s bid to raise and dream of the FA Cup.
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