Women's Euro 2022

Northern Ireland Euro 2022 team guide: key players, route to final, prediction & more

Ali Rampling
Euro 2022 team guide: Northern Ireland
Euro 2022 team guide: Northern Ireland /

Northern Ireland will make history at Euro 2022, as they participate in their maiden major women's tournament.

Kenny Shiels' side defied the odds to book their place in this summer's tournament, qualifying as the lowest-ranked nation.

Here's everything you need to know about Northern Ireland ahead of Euro 2022.

Northern Ireland Women's Euro 2022 qualifying record

Northern Ireland's historic qualification effort saw them finish second to Norway and ahead of third place Wales by virtue of their head to head record.

Northern Ireland collected the lowest points tally out of any second place side in qualifying, with four wins, two draws and two defeats from eight games.

Their Euro 2022 spot was sealed with a memorable two-legged playoff victory over Ukraine, with Northern Ireland running out 4-1 aggregate winners. The only negative was that due to Covid-19 restrictions, fans could not be in attendance in Belfast to witness the historic occasion.

Northern Ireland Women's team tournament history

Euro 2022 is Northern Ireland's European Championship debut.

Euro 1984: Did not qualify
Euro 1987: Did not qualify
Euro 1989: Did not enter
Euro 1991: Did not qualify
Euro 1993: Did not enter
Euro 1995: Did not enter
Euro 1997: Did not enter
Euro 2001: Did not enter
Euro 2005: Did not enter
Euro 2009: Did not qualify
Euro 2013: Did not qualify
Euro 2017: Did not qualify

Northern Ireland have never qualified for the World Cup, and currently find themselves six points adrift of a playoff spot for the 2023 tournament.

​​1991 World Cup: Did not qualify
1995 World Cup: Did not enter
1999 World Cup: Did not enter
2003 World Cup: Did not enter
2007 World Cup: Did not qualify
2011 World Cup: Did not qualify
2015 World Cup: Did not qualify
2019 World Cup: Did not qualify

Northern Ireland Women's football team players - key players & ones to watch

Northern Ireland's talisman is Rachel Furness. The midfielder has a wealth of top flight experience, having plied her trade with Sunderland, Reading, Lincoln and Tottenham, and will be back in the WSL next season after helping Liverpool secure their return to tier one last term.

The 34-year-old is her country's all-time top scorer, having netted 38 times in 81 appearances, and has since moved back into a central midfield role following her time as a forward earlier in her career. Combative and smart on the ball, she will be important for Northern Ireland both in and out of possession.

Joely Andrews could be the young gun to keep an eye on in the Northern Ireland squad, but is no stranger to the big stage. The 20-year-old midfielder was handed her first competitive start for her country against England in front of a record breaking crowd at Windsor Park in April, and featured in the early stages of last season's Champions League with Glentoran.

Northern Ireland Women's football team manager

Kenny Shiels has coached at every level of football in Northern Ireland, in addition to working in Bangkok and winning the 2012 Scottish League Cup with Kilmarnock, across a managerial career that has spanned over three decades.

The Northern Ireland job is his first foray into women's football, and he has worked wonders since taking the hot seat in 2019, guiding the team to their maiden major tournament against all the odds. The 66-year-old's infamous 'emotional' comment in April sparked outrage in wider football circles, but the support from his players was unwavering, such is the job he has done and the strides he has helped this Northern Ireland team make.

Did you know…

Prior to qualifying for Euro 2022, the majority of the Northern squad were not professional footballers, balancing training with full time jobs; forward Lauren Wade was a funeral director and Kirsty McGuinness worked at B&Q.

In January, members of the Northern Ireland team who were not tied to a professional club went full time, entering a seven month training camp in preparation for Euro 2022.

Women's Euro 2022 Northern Ireland fixtures & route to the Euro 2022 final

Norway vs Northern Ireland

Date & time: Thursday 7 July, 20:00 (BST)
Venue: St Mary's
How to watch on TV: BBC One (UK)

Austria vs Northern Ireland

Date & time: Monday 11 July, 17:00 (BST)
Venue: St Mary's
How to watch on TV: BBC One (UK)

Northern Ireland vs England

Date & time: Friday 15 July, 20:00 (BST)
Venue: St Mary's
How to watch on TV: BBC One (UK)

Progression from their group will likely be a pipe dream for Northern Ireland, but should they make it to the knockout stages, a member of Group B will await - likely Germany, Spain or Denmark.

Top their group and reach the semi finals and the winner of Group C will be their likely semi final opponent - presumably Sweden or the Netherlands - or finish second and reach the last four and it will be the Group D winner of the Group C runner up - again, likely Sweden, the Netherlands or France.

Northern Ireland Women's Euro 2022 squad

Goalkeepers: Jackie Burns (BK Hacken), Becky Flaherty (Brighouse Town), Shannon Turner (Wolves)

Defenders: Kelsie Burrows (Cliftonville), Rebecca Holloway (Racing Louisville), Ashley Hutton (Linfield), Abbie Magee (Cliftonville), Sarah McFadden (Durham), Rebecca McKenna (Lewes), Julie Nelson (Crusaders Strikers), Laura Rafferty (Southampton), Demi Vance (Rangers)

Midfielders: Nadene Caldwell (Glentoran), Joely Andrews (Glentoran), Chloe McCarron (Glentoran), Marissa Callaghan (Cliftonville), Louise McDaniel (Cliftonville), Rachel Furness (Liverpool)

Forwards: Simone Magill (unattached), Caitlin McGuinness (Cliftonvillle), Kirsty McGuinness (Cliftonville), Lauren Wade (Glentoran), Emily Wilson (Crusaders Strikers)

Predicted finish - Group stage

Northern Ireland are the ultimate underdogs at Euro 2022 and anything other than a group stage exit will be a remarkable, film worthy, romantic footballing tale.