23rd March: 12.30pm

The overnight rise of women’s football in Northern Ireland.

The Northern Ireland woman’s national team are enjoying unprecedented success and club football is expanding across Northern Ireland. It’s an understatement to say that – in recent times – women’s football has blown up in his part of the world. But what kept us? Why were our female footballers not even in the running for international tournaments until 2009? What has changed and who/what is responsible? To discuss, sports broadcaster and former player Nicola McCarthy, NI captain Marissa Callaghan and chair David ‘Rigsy’ O’Reilly (who founded his own woman’s team, then wrote a novel about them!).

To discuss the rise of the beautiful game in Northern Ireland – and indeed across the world – join three experts on the local game.

Nicola McCarthy is a former footballer and now hugely respected sports reporter and anchor – formerly with Man City FC and now with BBC NI, specialising in covering football for TV. She recently fronted a fascinating documentary about woman’s football and the surprising history of the game here (dating back to pre-war times!) in a recent BBC documentary.

Marissa Callaghan is captain of the Northern Ireland woman’s team who are on the brink of history – qualification for their first major tournament. Marissa has played 60 times for her country and is arguably the finest female midfielder the country has produced. She is also part of the coaching set up at her club Cliftonville Ladies and is Girls Participation Officer with the IFA.

David O’Reilly (aka Rigsy) is a radio and TV broadcaster as well as founder of and head coach of Belfast Ravens. The club he formed with his wife have two teams in the now thriving NIWFA. David was so inspired by his experiences with this team he wrote Lottie the Raven, a novel about women’s football.

Focusing on:

  • With the recent success of the national team and the expansion of the NIWFA, it’s an understatement to say women’s football has blown up in Northern Ireland. But what kept us? Why – for example – were we not even in the running for tournaments like the Euros until 2009? What has changed and who/what is responsible?
  • How can the success of the women’s national team in Northern Ireland inspire a whole generation of young girls to play football and what are the benefits of team sports at a young age?
  • Woman’s football has a fantastic relationship with the LGBT community. Meanwhile, there is not a single openly gay man playing top level football in Northern Ireland – or the Premier League for that matter. What can men’s football learn from the woman’s game?

Find out more: lottietheraven.com bbc ni sport irish fa women’s football

date & time

date & time

23rd March
(duration: 90 minutes)




This virtual event is free