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Meet Anne O'Brien, the legendary soccer star from Inchicore

Analysis: a 'wizard on the ball', O'Brien became one of the first Irish women to play the game at an international level 50 years ago

By Helena Byrne, British Library

Inducted to the FAI Hall of Fame in 2020 and dubbed 'the greatest player we never knew about', it is only since her death in 2016 that the accolades achieved by Irish footballer Anne O’Brien have become more widely known by the general public. One of 10 siblings, Anne was born in January 1956 to John and Rosanna O'Brien. She was was an all-round athlete who was great at all sports, especially athletics and soccer. But soccer was Anne's favourite, which she played on the streets of Inchicore with the boys.

Anne came from a footballing family; her relations include Irish soccer internationals Jimmy Conway and Johnny Giles, and football runs in the family genes; her nephews Stephen and Ger O'Brien also played professional football in the League of Ireland, while her grand niece Annie O’Brien has represented Ireland in goals at under 16 level.

When she was 12, her mother formed a football team for her, Inchicore Celtic. At the age of 14, Anne joined the Vards, one of the Dublin League teams. When the team won the Drumcondra Cup by beating rivals Drimnagh Boscos 3-2 at Tolka Park in 1971, the three goals were scored by teenager Anne. The Evening Herald match report called her 'hero of the night', reporting that she 'equalised twice before slotting the winner 12 minutes from time'. In the post-match interview, Vards team captain Rosaleen McAllorum described Anne as a 'wizard'.

In 1972 the All Stars team was established, an amalgamation of three teams in the Dublin League. Many of the Vards players, including Anne moved to the All Stars, who were managed by Dan