BACK IN GREEN: Roma McLaughlin has returned to the Ireland squad after three years in the wilderness. PICTURE: Sportsfile
Roma McLaughlin made an emotional return to international duty this week - and she is now hoping for the chance to show Vera Pauw exactly what she's capable of.
The Greencastle native is in Reykjavik as part of the 23-player Ireland women's squad that will play an international double header against Iceland.
The first match against takes place this Friday, with the second the following Tuesday, and Ireland's 'prodigal daughter' is hoping she can make her mark.
After three long and frustrating years in the wilderness, McLaughlin finally made manager Pauw sit up and take notice after a standout season in central midfield for US College side Central Connecticut State University (CCSU).
Speaking to Donegal Live from the squad's base in Iceland, she said: "I'm absolutely delighted to be called back in. It's been roughly three years, and it was so nice to see all the familiar faces when we arrived at the start of the week.
"Training on Monday went really well. I was nervous beforehand but I feel like it's definitely settled me in now with the camp."
Fans of McLaughlin's considerable talents will now be hoping this is the beginning of a sustained period of international success for the unassuming 23-year-old.
Only a few years ago, she looked set for great things with the Ireland squad, shining in the UEFA U19 Championship qualifying round in 2016 before making her senior debut in the same year and going on to make further appearances in the 2017/18 season.
But since moving to America, she did not feature in the Ireland selectors' plans - until last week's welcome announcement.
"I was upset for a long time about it," she told the Inish Times back in April of this year. "I would love to be playing for my country, and you do ask yourself 'what are the reasons?'
"But in the last few seasons I've tried to put it out of my head and not overthink things. I've just been concentrating on myself, working on improving as a player and focussing on my game here with CCSU."
And that diligent approach has finally paid dividends with Pauw, who is said to have been impressed by the stand-out performances McLaughlin has consistently put in Stateside.
Now McLaughlin must wait and see if she will play a part in Friday's opening match, which will be available to watch on the RTE Player at 6pm.
"Obviously the competition for places is strong, but I will do my best and see what happens," she said.
"Right now I'm just grateful to be here - and of course it would be amazing to get some game time."
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