Amanda Budden took the biggest risk of her career when she took a year off football to travel North America right as she made her international breakthrough.

The Cork city native was a regular in squads under Colin Bell, making her debut in the 4-0 World Cup qualifying win over Northern Ireland in Tallaght.

Timing could hardly have been worse for the goalkeeper, who won the FAI Cup with her hometown club in 2017, as she’d just booked tickets to Vancouver.

She had a brief moment of doubt about whether she was doing the right thing, but she chose to go with her gut and it’s proven the right decision.

The 27-year-old is arguably playing the best football of her career with Shelbourne as the Reds’ defence has tightened considerably since she arrived from Galway in January.

Her form has seen her return to the fringes of the Ireland squad under Vera Pauw – where, ironically, she’s behind her former Cork City understudy Eve Badana in the queue.

“I had Vancouver all sorted before I got called in [to the Ireland squad] and I was all ready to change plans,” she tells Dublin Live.

“But It was all booked, so I just went with my gut and went travelling for a bit. I’d be eager to get back in the set-up with the girls again.

“I’m loving my football now. I was out for a while and I came back and went to Galway, and then I popped up to Dublin.

“Winning obviously helps, so I’m enjoying it a lot, and the girls on thecShels team are A1. It was an easy team to walk into, and they’re all so sound, and that also helps.“

Budden returned to Ireland in 2019 and didn’t settle at Cork, so she made the move north to Galway, who had been building nicely under Billy Clery.

Impressive performances between the sticks for the Tribeswomen led to interest from the top clubs, and a job offer in Dublin made Shels the natural fit.

Coincidentally, Shels drew Budden’s former club Cork City in the quarter finals before drawing Galway for the semis – and the keeper knows better than to underestimate them.

“We’re definitely focussing on the Cup for now. It’s anyone’s game – it’s the Cup and everyone’s going to be putting everything into it.

“We’ve been driving on this week and training has been good. We’ve got new things in the bag and hopefully we can pull it out at the weekend.”

Amanda Budden in action for the Republic of Ireland against Northern Ireland
Amanda Budden in action for the Republic of Ireland against Northern Ireland

Losing star players like Jamie Finn and Emily Whelan mid-season has been less than ideal, though it is an indication that Shels are providing a clear path to professional football.

At six foot tall, Budden is the tallest goalkeeper in the league and has all the attributes to make it to the top level, but right now she’s happy with where she is.

“If the right opportunity comes up, I’d definitely have a look at it. If it was the right one at the right time.

“For now, I’m focussing on the cup and get back in the league, and if I could make my way back into the Irish squad that would be great.”

Last week saw Tolka Park host a historic occasion:, the first Women’s National League game broadcast live on TV, on TG4 as Alex Kavanagh’s goal saw Shels to victory over DLR Waves.

It was a landmark event and proof of the progress the league has made on the field and off it – and having the fans back in numbers was the icing on the cake.

“We had a big crowd and even coming out, our first shot on target, the screams and the roars from the crowd was class. You get a little shiver.

“It’s good and it makes you more motivated to get the win. It’s good to see the young girls looking up to us and even getting pictures and stuff, they’re all mad for it.

“You want to be a role model at the end of the day, you want to keep everyone involved as long as they can.”

FAI Cup fixtures:

Saturday, October 9

Shelbourne v Galway, Tolka Park, 2pm (Free admission)

Peamount United v Wexford Youths, PRL Park, 4pm

Live on LOITV.ie



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