In a cold, grey tunnel, in the bowels of the Aviva Stadium, a radiant figure stood amongst the various officials, reporters and players. The figure was that of victorious Raheny United captain, Rebecca Creagh, both of her hands were clasped tightly around the treasured prize in her possession – the Women’s FAI Cup.
After a third successive WFAI Cup triumph the attacker beamed, “It’s unbelievable, hard to put into words to be honest with you. I think it’s the sweetest one as well. It was an unbelievable occasion. This year there was a bit of a better buzz to be honest with you, as the atmosphere has been unbelievable in the squad, coming off the back of a Champions League’s campaign. We’ll look back in years to come and cherish it.”
Last Sunday’s decider ebbed and flowed and eventually required extra time to establish a winner. Unfortunately the game was decided by a goalkeeping error, a Siobhan Killeen shot squirming through the grasp of UCD Waves goalkeeper Monica McGuirk. McGuirk’s manager, Eileen Gleeson admitted it was a cruel way to lose a cup final, but she was pragmatic in her assessment of the situation. “It’s hard for the player that makes the mistake, it’s hard to lose the game on a mistake, but that’s part of being in a team, you win, you lose, you draw together. Unfortunately for ‘keepers if they make an individual mistake it ends up in the back of the net, they don’t have any security behind them, but we have to take it as a team and move forwards as a team.”
McGuirk’s teammate, Julie Ann Russell cut a devastated figure after the game, honestly explaining, “It is just heart breaking to lose any final, but the FAI Cup, for it to go into extra time and then for a soft goal that could have really been preventable.” When quizzed as to preparations for other eventualities, she replied, “To be honest I had a gut feeling that we’d score, I didn’t really think about penalties, I just wanted to win it.”
“It’s about time”
Indeed it was Russell’s crafty wing work that helped light up this exciting final. As a spectacle, she remarked, “It was brilliant that it was televised; it’s about time to be honest. The standard is improving year-on-year. Hopefully people enjoyed it today and to the fans that came, they were brilliant as well. Hopefully we’ll see more games televised and not just the cup final.”
“I enjoy playing against them”
While Russell may want to move on quickly from Sunday’s game, one player who’ll look back favourably on the match will be Raheny’s Katie McCabe. McCabe’s stunning long range free set them on their way and when asked of her memories of the goal, the infectious striker said, “I saw it dipping and once it hit the top corner I was delighted. I think that’s up there with one of my better ones”, she smiled. McCabe – who can look forward to a big future in the game – also had some praise for the opposition, extolling, “UCD Waves are a very very good side. They move the ball well, sharp, they play off the centre forwards. I enjoy playing against them because you’re playing against a very good team, at a top level. Not saying that the other teams aren’t good sides but there’s always that bit more hunger in these games.”
Creagh finishes, “There has been a lot of build up to the game, UCD, Raheny – the top two in the country – so people are saying. This one is very very sweet.
With one point between the sides and both scheduled to meet again in the league on 29 November in the more conventional surroundings of Jackson Park, expect any pleasantries to be waived once both sides cross the white line.