Katie McCabe named Irish Times/Sport Ireland Sportswoman for November

Versatile 26-year-old has been in outstanding form for club and country this season

It was exactly four years ago that Katie McCabe was named our sportswoman of the month for November after captaining Ireland to what was then the team’s finest ever result away from home in a competitive game, a scoreless draw against European champions the Netherlands.

That result completed what had been a hugely encouraging year for the team, Ireland winning five and drawing three of their 10 games, McCabe an ever-present in a defence that kept eight clean sheets.

On the club front, though, there was nothing but uncertainty for the Dubliner at that stage. After joining Arsenal in December 2015, her chances of first-team football proved limited, her prospects not helped by a series of injuries, so 18 months later she was sent on loan to Glasgow City.

By the time she returned to London in late 2017, McCabe assumed her time was done with Arsenal, her contract ending that December. But her return coincided with the appointment of Joe Montemurro as manager, the Australian deciding after two weeks of training that McCabe did indeed have a future at the club, offering her a contract extension.


It proved to be the wisest of decisions. Since then, the 26-year-old has established herself as one of the Super League’s leading players, helping Arsenal end a seven-year run without winning the title in 2019, playing more minutes than any player in the squad in that campaign and providing the third highest number of assists in the whole league.

Come the end of the 2020-21 season, McCabe was named in the Super League team of the year, was voted Arsenal’s player of the year by the supporters, finished joint first in the assists list, and was given a new long-term contract by the club.

And she’s maintained that form this season, winning both the player and goal of the month awards in October, her performances on the left, either at full back or on the wing, a major contributing factor to Arsenal being top of the table after eight games. Last Sunday’s FA Cup final defeat to Chelsea, delayed from the previous season, has been just about the only glitch in her year with the club, but there’ll be plenty of trophy-hunting in 2022, not least in the Super League and Champions League.

On the international front, McCabe was one of just two players, Denise O’Sullivan the other, to play every minute of Ireland’s nine games in 2021, the highlight that 2-1 World Cup qualifying win away to Finland, arguably Ireland’s finest ever away result, and the record 11-0 humbling of Georgia in Tallaght last month.

At the half-way point in the campaign, Ireland are in the playoff spot, a point clear of Finland. If they can maintain that position after their four remaining fixtures, then they will keep alive their hopes of qualifying for their first major tournament, the 2023 World Cup being hosted by Australia and New Zealand. McCabe would look very comfortable on that stage.

Previous monthly winners

The awards run from December 2020 to November 2021, inclusive

December: Aoife Doyle (Camogie) and Sinéad Goldrick (Gaelic football) January: Nadia Power (Athletics) February: Rachael Blackmore (Horse racing) March: Leona Maguire (Golf) April: Orla O'Dwyer (Australian Rules) May: Katie Taylor (Boxing) June: Kellie Harrington (Boxing)

July: Aifric Keogh, Eimear Lambe, Fiona Murtagh and Emily Hegarty (Rowing) August: Katie-George Dunlevy and Eve McCrystal (Cycling) and Ellen Keane (Swimming September: Vikki Wall (Gaelic football) October: Amy Hunter (Cricket)