While it may not have been the result Northern Ireland were looking for when they took on England on Tuesday, it was a worthwhile experience for Fermanagh’s Casey Howe.

The 18 year old was an unused substitute in England’s 6-0 victory but with aspirations of playing in England on her radar, Casey took plenty away from the trip to St. George’s Park, the home of England’s football teams.

Household names in English women’s football such as Steph Houghton, Lucy Bronze and Jill Smith all featured for the Lionesses and for Casey to see these players up close was something that will help her on her journey in football.

“It was incredible. You don’t appreciate how good they are until you are watching them on the side of the pitch,” said Casey.

“Even watching them on TV you don’t see how good they are. They are so strong and athletic.

“It gives me, as a young player, a mark of where I want to be and I what need to achieve that. That’s where I aspire to be.”

With Covid guidelines in place there was little interaction between the two squads but just seeing how a team ranked sixth in the world operate up close was a massive learning experience for Casey.


Looking back at the game, despite the scoreline Casey believes Northern Ireland under Kenny Shiels are progressing in the right way.

“Obviously we were disappointed with the score, there’s no doubts about that.

“The way we played we were trying to play with confidence. Kenny’s new style of play is completely new to what we were all used to with Alfie (Wylie) so he was happy that we were confident to take the ball and play out from the back and work on the things we have been preparing for rather than just maybe hoof it up the pitch.

“There so much belief which meant the preparation was so good and the going to England the buzz in the camp was so good.”

And Casey believes, Northern Ireland being able to secure a game against such high class opposition shows just how far they have progressed.

“A few years ago England would never have considered us as viable preparation for them.

“For them to see us as opposition that they would want to use as preparation it shows how far we’ve come as a wee small nation,” she said before adding.

“You see the amount of people England have to pick from compared to us and it just shows what hard work can do.

“It’s not often you get to play against England, its something you need to learn from.”

Euro 2022 play-offs

With Northern Ireland now looking forward to the Women’s Euro 2022 play-offs in April, it is the next thing Casey can focus on as she looks to adding to the two caps she has under her belt for Northern Ireland.

“It’s something I can work towards now and something I have to look forward to and keep working hard towards,” Casey concluded.