Ireland’s Katie McCabe accused of ‘petulance’ and being too ‘aggressive’ by Australian media

Some news media outlets, with characteristic Antipodean understatement, have declared her to be the “public enemy number one” after her series of jousts with the Real Madrid-bound winger, who was brought down by Marissa Sheva for the decisive 52nd minute penalty.

Aussie pundits complained about one tackle in particular, when McCabe left her studs on Raso in the first-half, although McCabe also came off worse in one tussle when she apparently broke one or two fingers, needing to get them bandaged together.

One outlet,, drifted into the hyperbolic with their headlined outrage.

Ireland open World Cup with 1-0 defeat to Australia

“Irish captain Katie McCabe sparks controversy with aggressive play against Matildas in tournament opener,” they screamed.

“Ireland’s controversial captain Katie McCabe sparked a biff with the Matildas and sent the football world into a frenzy with one incident,” explained the sub-head.

Irish boss Vera Pauw insisted her captain was fine and brushed off suggestions that her side were overly physical.

McCabe said she loved the physical element of the game.

“Australia are very powerful, I don’t know how many fouls were given,” said Pauw. “We had to take the heat out of it a bit but there was the same proportion on both sides.

“We try to play within the rules of the game and one of the key things in training we always try to play without fouls. I don’t know how many fouls there were today.

“But we are a team that is battling, we are Irish, the DNA of the team is to battle. There was a few challenges from both sides and that was just before half time.”

Aside from the Australian media, BBC pundit Karen Bardsley was also critical of the Irish captain.

“There‘s an element of petulance here from Katie McCabe,” Bardsley said. “These challenges from her have just started to add up now.

“It is the referee‘s responsibility to manage those situations, because if you don’t nip it in the bud then it will just keep escalating.

“We certainly don‘t want to see anyone either stretchered off or sent off.”

Meanwhile, more than two million tuned in at peak times for the World Cup clash, a figure higher than the second State of Origin rugby league fixture this month, historically one of the country’s most popular fixtures.

Of the 1.92 million that tuned in on free-to-air television on Thursday night, the majority (1.74 million) watched the game on Channel Seven. Another 184,000 viewers watched on 7Plus.

The peak audience was 2.28 million. Combined with streaming outlet Optus Sport’s average audience figures, the total average audience for the match should be over the 2 million mark.

The result is one of the best for a female sports team in history, and could only grow if the Matildas continue into the next stages of the tournament. Australia’s population is slightly over 25 million.

Oddly, none of today’s fixtures were available on free-to-air TV.

Ireland returned to their Brisbane base on Friday and underwent a recovery session in Meakin Park, from where they reported no injury concerns.

The draw between rivals Canada and Nigeria leaves Ireland in bottom place, although Canada’s performance hardly painted them as the potentially more difficult opponent in this group.

The two sides meet in Perth this Wednesday.

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