World Cup: Wexford referee Michelle O'Neill on 'dream' final role in Lyon

Michelle O'Neill
Michelle O'Neill (centre) was assistant referee in the USA's 2-0 win over the Netherlands in the World Cup final

The Republic of Ireland didn't qualify for the Women's World Cup, but they were represented in the sport's biggest stage in France.

Wexford's Michelle O'Neill was assistant referee for the final, with the USA running out 2-0 winners over the Netherlands in Lyon.

"Without a doubt it was the highlight of my career," O'Neill told BBC Radio Foyle.

"It's what you've been working towards and it was a dream come true."

O'Neill is a regular official in the League of Ireland and believes stepping out of the tunnel for the final was "something I was meant to do".

The 40-year-old admits it was a feeling of relief when she got the call that she had been selected for the final.

"It was announced in front of our colleagues," she added, "We just looked at each other and couldn't believe it. It was absolutely amazing.

"We had to put in such a great effort the whole tournament and we knew we had done a good job in the earlier games so we knew it was a possibility."

Michelle O'Neill (left)
O'Neill (left) began to officiate in 2008 is a regular in the League of Ireland, Women's National League, FAI Cup finals and internationals.

O'Neill admits there was a competitive edge between all the officials at the tournament, but adds everyone was like "one big football family."

"We were training every day for six weeks and it was a really good and positive camp," said O'Neill.

"I had a feeling I was representing all my team and I had to perform for each and every one of them. They had worked just as hard as I did to make it there.

"You feel the nerves just standing in the tunnel before the game and those three minutes felt like forever.

"When I was doing the last checks you could feel the nerves of the players and you try and have a bit of humour with them.

"Then when you get the nod to start walking out you know this is what you were meant to do and everything was worth it."