Northern Ireland captain Marissa Callaghan backs ‘man of integrity’ Kenny Shiels after controversial comment about women

Northern Ireland women’s captain Marissa Callaghan has spoken out in favor of coach Kenny Shiels after he caused controversy this week when he said: “Women are more emotional than men”.

Speaking at home to England after Northern Ireland’s 5-0 defeat in World Cup qualifying on Tuesday night, Hiels explained why he felt his side were conceding goals too often in quick succession.

The comments drew criticism from pundits, former players and politicians and marred an evening when a record crowd of 15,348 traveled to Windsor Park to see the game.

Shiels apologized for his comments on Wednesday.

A day later, Callaghan issued a statement on social media saying she spoke for the entire squad.

“In light of recent events, we all stand by our manager,” Callaghan wrote.

“We believe his interview was related to a meeting we had as a team where we analyzed that we were conceding goals in quick succession and emotions was one of the many things we talked about.

“Ever since Kenny took over our national team three years ago, I have publicly praised him for bringing out the best in his players, individually and collectively. He is a man of integrity who takes care of us like family.”

Shiels has enjoyed much success since taking charge of Northern Ireland in 2019. The former Kilmarnock manager guided them to qualify for this summer’s European Championships, winning 10 of their 18 games in charge.

But two of his five defeats came in the last week, as losses to Austria and England effectively dashed hopes of reaching next year’s World Cup.

On Tuesday, Northern Ireland conceded four goals in 27 minutes of the second half as the resistance against England collapsed, prompting Shiels to say: “I’m sure you’ve noticed if you go through the patterns – when a team concede collects, they collect a second in a very, very short time.

“[It happens] right across the spectrum of women’s football, because girls and women are more emotional than men. So they take a goal that doesn’t go in very well.”

But Callaghan, who also coaches for the Cliftonville Ladies on the side, credited Shiels with instilling in the Northern Ireland players the belief that helped them achieve their recent success.

“Kenny changed the game here in Northern Ireland because he knows how to get the best out of his players. We qualified for a major tournament because he changed the way we think,” added the 36-year-old.

“We look forward to the coming months as we continue to prepare for this summer’s Euros.

“The National Stadium sell-out was a pivotal moment for the game here in NI, and we as players and staff will continue as a team to grow the game and inspire the next generation of young players and fans.” Northern Ireland captain Marissa Callaghan backs ‘man of integrity’ Kenny Shiels after controversial comment about women

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