Grace Moloney of Reading. West Ham United Women vs Reading Women, WSL football match, Rush Green Stadium, London, UK - 24 Nov 2019 Photo: Kunjan Malde for The FA

Reading’s Grace Moloney on using lockdown to take Republic of Ireland’s number one spot

Reading goalkeeper Grace Moloney believes that she is mentally prepared to take the number one spot for the Republic of Ireland as the nation prepare to face Denmark and Belgium this week.

Last December, Moloney made an impressive competitive debut for the Republic of Ireland in their 3-1 defeat to Germany. Now, off the back of what Royals boss Kelly Chambers considers a ‘magnificent’ season in between the sticks, the 28-year-old is the favourite to take the number one spot as The Girls in Green take on Denmark and Belgium over the course of the next week. 

Speaking in a Republic of Ireland press conference in which FAWSL Full-Time were present, Moloney provided an insight into how lockdown and the break from football prepared her mentally to grow as a player and chase down a place in Vera Pauw’s starting XI. 

“For me at the minute, I feel like it’s probably my best season to date,” Moloney said. “Lockdown was massive for me in chasing my mentality, how I look at my game and understanding the type of goalkeeper I am and what I can bring to the team. 

“I used it (lockdown) in a really positive way.”

Reflecting on her current season, Moloney was open to criticising her side’s performance in the Barclays FA Women’s Super League. She also recognised the importance of competition within The Royals’ ranks which has helped keep her on her toes and has challenged her to fight for her position.

“If I’m being brutally honest, I think as a team we haven’t really been performing as well as we should be and that reflects in me having to do more,” she said. “I’ve had to step up a little bit more and perform for the team.

“I’ve changed a lot of things within my game. In lockdown, I worked with two of our coaches, one really helped me with the mental side of the game, one more with the ball at my feet and working with the team in possession.

“We had the New Zealand number one (Erin Nayler) come in and for me, my mentality was ‘your not taking my spot’, I suppose I’ve just worked hard and tried to keep her out.”

Continuing to discuss the importance of mentality as a goalkeeper, Moloney was reflective of her performance against West Ham United last weekend, a game which saw her concede five times. The Royals keeper is confident that she has the strength to bounce back from what she labelled as her ‘worst game of the season’.

“I feel like my way of dealing with it is if I’ve felt like a goal has been my fault, I’ll write in the group chat and I’ll be like ‘Girls, hands up that was me’ or I’ll come in the next day and do a session working on the same scenario that happened in the game.

“For me, admitting it was my fault and putting it to the side, hands up, gets rid of it and we move on and look forward.”

A big part of Moloney’s journey towards the Ireland number one spot is the role of her club manager Chambers, who has worked with her for over 18 years from the youth team to being the Royals’ star player in their 2020/2021 Barclays FA Women’s Super League campaign. Moloney went on to praise Chambers for her help and support over the years.

“I’ve had Kelly as my manager since I was 10 and the way she has progressed the club throughout the years has been absolutely brilliant.” Moloney said.

“I don’t think she gets the credit she deserves at all but for me personally, I’ve been there so long and she’s always looked after me when I’ve been naughty at school and anything like that, she’s always been there and bailed me out.

“She’s always had my back and been fully supportive in anything really, family stuff or football. She’s been absolutely brilliant for me.”

Moloney will hope to take a starting position for the Republic of Ireland as they come up against Denmark in Dublin this evening in the first of their two international friendly matches.

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