Irish women’s teams receive tough Euro 2025 draws

England, France, and Sweden to come to Dublin

NI's Caragh Hamilton takes on Republic captain Katie McCabe at the Aviva.
NI's Caragh Hamilton takes on Republic captain Katie McCabe at the Aviva. NI's Caragh Hamilton takes on Republic captain Katie McCabe at the Aviva.

THE Republic of Ireland women’s team have been handed a hugely tough group for Euro 2025 qualifying, against holders England, France, and Sweden.

That pits the Girls in Green against the teams currently ranked third, fourth, and fifth in the world, with only World Cup-holders Spain having been potentially tougher opponents.

However, even if Eileen Gleeson’s charges don’t earn automatic qualification for the tournament in Switzerland, as one of the top two finishers in Group A3, they will get another chance against teams from Leagues C and B.

Northern Ireland women will be up against Portugal, Bosnia & Herzegovina, and Malta in League B, from which all teams will have to go into play-offs as they seek one of the 15 slots along with the Swiss hosts for the summer of 2025.

That means Tanya Oxtoby’s team, who are ranked 46th in the world, facing teams rated 21st (Portugal), 64th (Bosnia-Herz), and 86th (Malta). NI avoided any derby game as Scotland are in Group B2 with Serbia, Slovakia, and Israel, while Wales will face Croatia, Ukraine, and Kosovo in B4.

The Australian commented: “I am really, really happy in terms of our group. It looks like a really good mix of opponents. I’m really excited to see what our first round of games is going to be.”

With the fixture list yet to be confirmed, the expectation is that the first meeting of England and Republic of Ireland women’s teams since 1987 will take place at the Aviva Stadium in Dublin, which hosted the Nations League opener against Northern Ireland last year.

There have been much more recent meetings with the other group opponents – France came to Dublin last July for the hosts’ send-off game before the World Cup, with Sweden having topped their qualification group for that tournament. The Swedes won 1-0 at Tallaght Stadium in October 2021 followed by a 1-1 draw in Gothenburg in April 2022.

These Euro qualifier matches will take place over six dates between April and July, with play-offs then happening in October and November/ December.

NI will probably have to finish at least third in Group B3 in order to be involved in the play-offs, and should be able to do so, based on rankings. However, if Switzerland finish in the top three of Group B1, the best-ranked fourth-place team from League B will also go into the play-offs.

The first round of the play-offs is split into two paths. In one path, the teams finishing third and fourth in League A will play the five group winners and three best-ranked runners-up in League C. The eight winners progress to the second round.

In the other first round path, the four group winners and two best-ranked runners-up in League B will be drawn into six ties against the remaining two runners-up and four third-placed teams in League B. The six winners progress to the second round.

In the second round, the teams from both paths come together and will be drawn into seven ties, with seeding for the seven highest-ranked teams based on the overall league rankings. The seven winners will progress to the final tournament.