Anne was born in Inchicore in 1956, she was another member of a proud footballing family – her cousins included Irish internationals John Giles and Jimmy Conway while her nephew Ger O’Brien played for local club St. Patrick’s Athletic and is now part of the coaching team there.
Her mother helped set up a girls team Inchicore Celtic to give Anne an outlet for her talent because at that time there were no girls teams in the area. Those girls who did want to play football had to join boys teams but were not allowed to continue passed a certain age.
Afterwards Anne started her career as a 14 year old playing for Julian Vards (a works team associated with the fur trade) before moving to a side in Ballyfermot called All-Stars. Although a successful side there was no official equivalent for women to the League of Ireland and he local League side, St. Patrick’s Athletic did not field any teams for girls or women.
While with the Dublin All-Stars the opportunity arose for a 17 year old Anne to play for the Irish national team against touring French side Stade de Reims – the self-styled women’s footballing world champions who toured extensively around the world popularising the women’s game.
After impressing in a match against Stade de Reims Anne was offered a contract and when she turned 18 became the first female player from Britain or Ireland to play professionally on the Continent when she signed terms with them. Anne enjoyed immediate success with Reims scoring a hat-trick as they won the 1975 French Cup final. Anne also won 3 successive French championships between 1974 and 1976. Her performances were so impressive that she was selected for a French League XI for a game against a Rest of Europe side at the end of her first season.
In 1977 after great success in France Anne moved to the Italian league, then considered one of the strongest, and most financially lucrative leagues for women footballers. She joined Lazio and won two league titles and a cup in her first three seasons. While at Lazio she featured alongside Italian football legend Carolina Morace.
She enjoyed continued success with other sides in Italy including Trani, Napoli as well as winning further league titles with Reggiana and Milan Salvarani. While playing in Italy Anne was voted the best foreign player on four occasions. She later coached the Lazio women’s team and also worked as a youth coach for the FIGC.
Despite her talent and her success in France and Italy she only ever won four caps for Ireland. Her final cap coming in 1990 in a 0-0 draw with the Netherlands. Anne died aged 60 in 2016. In many ways it was only in death that her greatness was acknowledged in Ireland. She was survived by her son Andrea. Her contribution to football was acknowledged at the Ireland v Georgia game in 2016.