Katie McCabe insists Ireland won't settle for second best as they begin their UEFA Women’s EURO 2021 qualification campaign against Montenegro tomorrow night (Live on RTÉ2 television from 7pm).
McCabe and her team-mates have been up close and personal with the best in the form of World Cup winners USA just last month and seeing how Megan Rapinoe and her side go about their business appears to have rubbed off on the Arsenal striker.
"We want first place," McCabe told RTÉ when asked about realistic goals for Group I, containing, as it does, the world’s number two ranked side, Germany.
"I want us to qualify and to qualify we have to get first place."
It’s not going to be easy. Germany put ten past Montenegro last Saturday but McCabe said there were still lessons to be learned about their opponents for the encounter in Dublin 24.
She said: "Having looked at the game there are obviously strengths and weaknesses in that Montenegro team and I think we can be effective in breaking them down.
"I would say it’s a must-win but we are confident we can get the three points."
For the first time ever all of last summer’s World Cup matches were shown free to air in Ireland.
McCabe is hoping that the goodwill and positive reaction to the France tournament carries over into Tallaght Stadium in the form of a "Shamrock Rovers v Bohs turnout", in reference to the 7,200 who paid in to the Premier Division clash last weekend.
"I’m hoping off the back of the World Cup, having RTÉ [and TG4] covering that Women’s World Cup that it’s something to come and watch. I’m hoping to see the Irish public out supporting us."
Just five of the fully fit 20-woman squad, which includes returnees Clare Shine and Stephanie Roche, play their club football in Ireland and McCabe says that the experience gained abroad, from the USA, Scotland, Germany and Italy among other countries, has meant improved standards.
"That’s been one thing for us over the last two to three years," said the 23-year-old.
"Having the likes of Leanne [Kiernan] and Amber Barrett, those girls in professional environments and then brinking that professionalism back into the squad and having the young girls from the domestic league looking up [to them], seeing how they can get better and letting them get that taste of professional football."
The side are currently under caretaker Tom O’Connor, who has been interviewed for the permanent role that became available following the shock resignation of Colin Bell, a "gutting" departure, according to McCabe.
On the meeting with the USA in the Rose Bowl, California, last month, O’Connor says that there was a lot to be learned from meeting Jill Ellis’ side.
"Their technical ability, the power, the pace, the strategy [were impressive].
"They were unbelievable in the World Cup. I passed it on to the head coach Ellis and Rapinoe that all of Ireland was looking at it and they were absolutely intrigued with the standard and the quality and I think on the back of this World Cup our nation can make great steps."
Follow Republic of Ireland versus Montenegro this Tuesday via our live blog on RTÉ.ie/sport and the News Now app or watch live on RTÉ2 from 7pm.
Republic of Ireland Squad
Goalkeepers: Marie Hourihan (SC Braga), Grace Moloney (Reading)
Defenders: Harriet Scott (Birmingham City), Louise Quinn (Arsenal), Niamh Fahey (Liverpool), Megan Connolly (Brighton and Hove Albion), Diane Caldwell (SC Sand), Claire O'Riordan (MSV Duisburg), Eabha O’Mahony (Cork City)
Midfielders: Tyler Toland (Manchester City), Claire Walsh (Peamount United), Eleanor Ryan-Doyle (Peamount United), Denise O’Sullivan (North Carolina Courage), Jess Gargan (Shelbourne)
Forwards: Amber Barrett (FC Köln), Katie McCabe (Arsenal), Rianna Jarrett (Wexford Youths), Heather Payne (Florida State University), Clare Shine (Glasgow City), Stephanie Roche (CF Florentia)