Continental Tyres Women's National League, General football, Ireland, Women's football

Noelle Murray: “I was highly praised, he’s the play-maker”

The name Noelle is derived from a Latin word, meaning, “birthday (of the Lord)”. So it’s no surprise then to learn that Noelle Murray was born on Christmas Day. Statistically, aside from 29 February, it is considered out of the ordinary to be born on Christmas Day. However, there has been nothing ordinary about Murray’s talent or her displays in helping Shelbourne to the double last season. What’s seldom is wonderful.

Murray’s high performance levels in the red of Shelbourne have been wonderful and anything but seldom. From slotting home from the penalty spot in balmy August – scoring Shels’ first home goal of the season – to stylishly lobbing-in [view goal] the league-clincher against near-rivals UCD Waves on a freezing late-November night. It has been an unforgettable season for the three-time league and five-time FAI Cup winner.


Murray won’t compete in the Women’s National League next season for the first time since its’ inception, having signed for Glasgow City last week. In a thoroughly deserved move to full-time football, the Dubliner bucks the recent trend that has seen, mainly youngsters move away. Indeed, Savannah McCarthy, Katie McCabe and Jamie Finn – who have recently departed these shores for greener pastures and the lure of professional football – have all done so prior to their 21st birthdays. Murray leaves at 27.

Number One Award

She delayed her departure for Scotland’s vibrant second city, to attend last week’s Continental Tyre’s Women’s National League Awards 2016 in the Guinness Storehouse, where she was nominated for Player of the Year. “I meant to go already, but I delayed it a bit for the awards. I’m just dying to get over now and see what it has in store for me and get to know the girls. I’m dying to get over and just get going now.”
This award clearly meant a lot to her to win and you could see why. It was decided by popular ballot among her peers. There was stiff competition too. Teen goal-scoring sensation and cup final hat-trick hero, Leanne Kiernan and Karen Duggan – whose awards-laden sideboard must be creaking under the strain of innumerable gongs – completed the nominees. Murray’s name was deservedly pulled out of the envelop and she was named Continental Tyres Women’s National League Player of the Year for the truncated 2016 season.

Putting it into perspective, Murray says, “It’s definitely my number one award to date, especially because all of the girls in the other teams voted. It’s a privilege to know that all of the girls are giving you the vote, as they only get to vote for one person and it’s nice to know that they are giving you their vote to win it. We had a great season. You can never do something without your teammates.”


The award comes off the back of a scintillating season with Shelbourne. They completed the league and FAI Cup double – wrestling both trophies back from arch-rivals Wexford Youths, who lorded it over them the previous year. She admits with satisfaction, “doing the double, I think after winning the league and then losing it and then to fight back, it was just brilliant”. Indeed, in the controversial 2015 FAI Cup final shootout, Murray stepped up first and missed, handing the opening initiative to Wexford Youths. Then against the same opposition in the 2016 decider, she missed again, this time in regulation time. However, showing the character that no doubt persuaded Glasgow, she recovered to hook-in the opening goal of the game. She then proceeded to dictate the remainder of the game, providing a platform for her red-hot team-mates to savage a poor Wexford side. Something perhaps Glasgow wouldn’t get from an inexperienced pre-21 youngster? Murray admits the miss gave her, “a kick up the butt to get me going into the final”.

The Play-maker

This central role and mature range of passing in the 2016 cup final caught the eye of ex-Bray Wanderers and Shamrock Rovers manager, Trevor Croly, who was applying the co-commentary analysis for the live televised game. The clearly impressed, Croly drew comparisons of Murray’s display with that of Ireland midfield play-maker, Wes Hoolahan – such was the level of her performance. High praise indeed.

Murray on the comparison, “It was recorded at home and I watched it back afterwards. I was highly praised on the commentary which I was delighted to hear, to be named along with Wes Hoolahan – he’s the play-maker.” Her deeper role on the day allowed her to dictate the play, utilising the pace of Siobhan Killeen, the direct running of Leanne Kiernan and the power of Gloria Douglas to exploit every inch of the vast open spaces of the Lansdowne Road pitch. She admits, “I definitely think I prefer to play in the ten now – just behind the forward – I feel I’m more involved in the game. I feel like I can drop back and help what’s going on behind and then help what’s in front of me as well”.


Put to her that her departure and that of other high-profile names will leave the Women’s National League a poorer place, she instantly replied. “No there’s quality all over the league in fairness. There’s still quality here. The younger ones who are coming up are going to bring it on. It’s going to change over the years, but it’s just going to get better and better, I can see it.”

When speaking about the future direction of the women’s game in Ireland, Murray is confident of a rise in standards and increased professionalism – which is making progress in all areas but the pay packet, or lack thereof. She explains, “People put the effort in, the time and effort people give to football teams is unbelievable, so to get something back out of it is always nice at the end of it.”
She now embarks on her Scottish journey and her first professional contract, earned through effort, hard-work, ability and experience. What’s seldom is wonderful.

Andy Donlan

Savannah McCarthy
Ireland, Republic of Ireland football team, Women's football

Extraordinary leader amongst women

“Savannah is a special girl. Her style of play, that comes from my kind of era. There’s so few of them knocking around today, not even in the Premiership in England. Really, blood and guts, not afraid to tackle, puts her body on the line.” They are the words of Ireland Women’s under-19 manager Dave Connell. He is speaking about Savannah McCarthy, a 19 year-old centre half from Listowel, Co. Kerry. At 19 she is the most exciting prospect in the women’s game in Ireland. She’s the aggressive centre half that every manager dreams of and every centre forward dreads. Once described by manager, Connell as a, “Toughie on the pitch, and a lady off the park”. Her role model status is untouchable in a world where genuine figures are short in supply.

Connell admits, “She is a role model to traveller women, all women in fact and young kids across the country. Whenever we are down at the Gaynor Cup (in Limerick) all of the fans want their photograph with Savannah, I think that’s fantastic, she deserves that. She’s an absolute gem of a player and very few of them come around too often, but I was lucky enough to work with her.” At 19 years of age they are pretty good references to add to your growing CV, particularly from the experienced Connell, who spent 20 years playing League of Ireland between 1979 and 1999 – listing Bohemians, Dundalk, Shamrock Rovers and Limerick amongst his employers.

Role Model
Savannah McCarthy is no ordinary 19 year-old though. Spotted playing in a Munster representative side, she has gone on to captain Ireland at under-15, under-16, under-17 and now under-19 level. She was also presented with the Irish Traveller Pride Award 2013 by a personal role model of hers, 11-times capped Ireland midfielder, Katie Taylor. McCarthy reluctantly admits – when I put it to her – she has now become a role model herself, not just to young traveller women, but to all women. She is further proof of the shifting mind-set amongst travellers – females in particular – which Love/Hate actor John Connors highlighted in his recent documentary, I Am Traveller, where he explores traveller identity in Ireland today. “Across the country more and more travellers are staying in school. Traveller women are getting back into education and it seems women have more of a want for it”, stated Connors. McCarthy recently delayed her entry into professional football to complete her Leaving Certificate. She has now completed her transfer to one of Scotland’s premier clubs, Glasgow City, who are managed by former Borussia Dortmund, Aberdeen and Scotland striker, Scott Booth. She can look forward to rubbing shoulders with Europe’s elite in the UEFA Women’s Champions League this summer.

Extraordinary Leader
Her honest, no nonsense approach on the park and her popularity off it display real leadership qualities. When quizzed as to where her drive and leadership skills emanate, she is typically shy upon self-reflection. Dad, Stephen, who, “Never misses a game” and family members are mentioned, however under-19s boss Connell says, “I think that comes from within. She arrived in as a young scrawny kid a couple of years ago and we saw the potential in her. She worked very, very hard on her fitness, very, very hard at her game and not only did that for herself, but pushed her teammates on as well. She’s an extraordinary talent and an extraordinary leader.”

As I put the next question to her, a giggly smile lights up her face. She has the widest smile in not only the lobby, but the entire City West Hotel complex for that matter. No mean feat either, as the Sunday matinée performance of, Disney On Ice’s Silver Anniversary has just finished in the adjoining conference centre. The hotel lobby is literally swamped by little five-year-olds dressed as Princesses, high on life (and sugar). Last month, reward for Savannah’s hard work duly arrived in Deryneia, a village situated on the east coast of Cyprus. The village is located a short distance from the infamous Ayia Napa resort – where many young girls of McCarthy’s age might be drawn on a visit to the isle. Savannah had more important business to attend to, as she joined the Ireland Senior Women’s team for the Cyprus Cup tournament. In the last 10 minutes of the opening game against Austria, Ireland manager, Sue Ronan looked in her direction. “My heart was going a bit”, McCarthy explains. “Sue told me to warm-up and I came on with a few minutes to go. My début was obviously really exciting and it was something that I wanted to do from a young age. It was pretty special”, she beamed. Two days later, she made her full début in a one, one draw against Italy.

The Elite
Back home and hoping to emulate the performances of 2014, where the Ireland under-19 side reached the semi-finals of the European Championship, Savannah reported for her last campaign under manager Dave Connell at Ireland under-19 level. On Tuesday Ireland faced the fancied Germans at Tallaght Stadium. McCarthy put in a typically tenacious performance at centre-half, however Ireland came out the wrong side of a one, nil score-line. Appropriately named, the Elite Qualifiers, only the six group winners (of four teams per group) will join hosts Slovakia in the promised land of this summers’ finals. The goals will have to come early and often in the other group games if Ireland are to be in with a chance of securing qualification through the sole best runners-up spot, should they finish second behind Germany in Group 1. Germany were the better side.
At the end of that game, Savannah dropped to her knees and looked up to the sky in despair. In a touching moment, she was then comforted by colleague and ex-UCD Waves teammate, Niamh Prior – acknowledging the physical and emotional investment of her captain. They’ll both go on to better days.

You get the feeling that more often than not, it will be opposition strikers acting out that scene from frustration at McCarthy’s towering performances. So don’t expect to see this rising star on her knees for very long.

Andy Donlan

Ireland finish their Elite Qualifier fixtures against Azerbaijan (19:30) tonight and next Sunday against Poland (14:00) – both games are at Tallaght Stadium.

Continental Tyres Women's National League, General football, Women's football

Waves sail home

UCD Waves 4-1 Cork City Women’s FC (Nolan 5’, 28’, O’Gorman 23’, Berrill 70’; Desmond 63’)

After enduring 126 days of frustration, the players of UCD Waves finally crossed the white-wash for a league fixture at their home base of Jackson Park – their first of the season. Even more incredibly, it’s almost 10 months since they hosted Peamount United in a home league game at the tail-end of the 2014/15 season. On this occasion they took their frustration out on a hard-working Cork City side, who had no match for Waves’ midfield creativity or guile going forward.

Waves, and indeed the others in the Continental Tyres Women’s National League must face-up to a fixtures backlog, with time running out to complete the 2015/16 league campaign. Their manager, Eileen Gleeson, speaking in the aftermath of their 4-1 victory over Cork City spoke of the difficulties that lie ahead. “The back fixtures will definitely affect us. There’ll be three games per week, which will be hard to sustain for the girls.” She also seemed to pour cold water over the possibility of extending the league season, were it an option. “I wouldn’t think they’ll extend the league, as we have a lot of students with exams, so we can’t afford to extend it because we wouldn’t have the players available. I think it will be tough for everyone. People will have back matches, teams will be travelling mid-week, will they have players available? I think it will change the landscape of the league.” She is adamant though, that following the lead of the men’s game in Ireland is the only logical step for this fledgling league. “I think that’s what’s coming (a switch to summer football). You couldn’t go through another season like this – three months without a game. It’s nobody’s fault but I think a switch would be positive.”

In the match, midfielder Orlagh Nolan helped herself to a brace inside 28 minutes to put this game to bed early. Her first after 5 minutes, was a well-taken effort from a left wing cross, with the second arriving just before the 30 minute mark, aided by a deflection. Sandwiched in between those goals was a typically tidy lob from skipper Áine O’Gorman, as UCD played into the wind in the first half. O’Gorman might have made it four before the break, but she shanked Chloe Mustaki’s cross over the bar when well-placed. Cork City found it hard to live with the incisive passing of Julie Ann Russell, Caroline Thorpe and Jetta Berrill – the latter linking up well with the former in constant raids down the right flank.

Cork briefly rallied in the second half, pulling a goal back through Ciara Desmond, when her rasping shot dropped under the bar and over the line at the back post via Monika McGuirk’s gloves. That goal failed to take the wind out of Waves’ sails though, as a superb Thorpe pass laid-on a fourth for the home side. The Cork City management team – headed up by Frank Kelleher for the first time – must have been pulling their collective hair out. A mix-up in defence following Thorpe’s pass allowed Jetta Berrill to steal in between goalkeeper and defenders, to coolly slot the ball into the bottom corner for 4-1. Berrill then stung the palms of the over-worked Trish Fennelly on 71, while the Cork stopper kept out Thorpe at the near post on 80, before further denying O’Gorman with a smart stop with her foot in injury time.

UCD will need to tighten-up at the back ahead of next weekend’s visit of Wexford Youths in the League Cup, as they coughed up a few second half chances to Cork – who look a distance off their opponents. They’ll want to avoid a repeat of their league defeat in Wexford earlier this month, where they shipped four goals, Gleeson admitted, “Four mistakes lead to four goals”.

UCD Waves: McGuirk; Berrill; Cahill; Hackett; Prior; Mustaki; Nolan; Thorpe; Cronin; Russell; O’Gorman.
Subs not used: 2 (unknown).

Cork City Womens FC: Fennelly; O’Donovan; Murphy; O’Brien; Duncliffe; Kelleher; Carroll (69’ Hurley); B.O’Connell (59’ Carry); Desmond; Daly; R.O’Connell.
Subs not used: O’Reilly; McNamara; McCarthy.

Attendance: 30 (estimate)

Andy Donlan

Ireland in the Mini World Cup in Brazil, 1972
Brazilian Independence Cup 1972, General football, Ireland, Minicopa, Republic of Ireland football team

Ireland in the 1972 Mini World Cup

“It was an unbelievable experience”, describes Turlough O’Connor.

It might be stretching it slightly to say that Ireland’s maiden World Cup victory actually came 18 years before that shoot-out victory against Romania at Italia ’90. But in the summer of 1972 the Republic of Ireland contested the Minicopa (or Mini World Cup/Brazilian Independence Cup) in Brazil. Organisers secured over one quarter of the teams who competed in the previous World Cup for this tournament, which marked 150 years of Brazilian Independence from Portugal. Striker Turlough O’Connor was in between a move from Dundalk back to Bohemians – who he had made his name with previously, earning his cross channel move to Fulham – when he was paid a visit by then Ireland boss, Liam Tuohy.

“I’ll never forget the call-up. I came around the corner at home and my daughter, Niamh – only 2 at the time – had walked around from our home in Ardmore Drive and there sitting on the wall with my wife was Liam Tuohy. He asked, ‘How would you be fixed to come to Brazil?’ But it was for 3 weeks. Suddenly I was working around in my head whether I’ll be able to get time off work or not.” He’d secure the time off work to join the likes of: Ray Treacy; Joe Kinnear; Alan Kelly; Mick Leech; Don Givens and Paddy Mulligan, in a strong but small Irish squad on the plane to Brazil.
Ireland got their campaign off to a flier in Recife – where they’d play 3 of their 4 games – defeating Asian representatives, Iran, 2-1. Although it could have been a disastrous start for Ireland before a ball was even kicked. The pre-match national anthems were shelved just before kick-off, when it was discovered the music the band were intending to play was that of, God Save the Queen. Bloody Sunday had occurred in Derry that January.

Next it was onto Natal – a coastal city – which sits just over 600 km south of the equator – for the mid-June clash with Ecuador. O’Connor describes a bleak scene in the northern city. “In ’72 in Brazil in that northern area, the hardship and the poverty was unreal, it was like nothing I had ever seen or experienced before. It was difficult to see. In Natal they had this ship of hope – it was an American ship with doctors and nurses that went in to help the people. It’s amazing to think that when we talk about ’72 in Brazil and you see this happening in Europe now at this time, it’s frightening that it could happen 40 years later.” The ship, the SS Hope, was a re-fitted US Navy ship whose mission was, “No pill and band-aid handout”, instead leaving a legacy of medical knowledge and training.
In the game Ireland came from 2-1 down to defeat the acclimatised South Americans and it was O’Connor who lobbed in the winner with 6 minutes remaining. Ireland managed to win 3-2, even with the second half sending off of Don Givens. The stadium where the match was played will forever be remembered in World Cup folklore, as the re-built version of that arena was that of Suárez bite fame from last summer’s World Cup.

Seeing red
The squad journeyed back south to Recife for the third match against Chile, which was to be O’Connor’s last game of the tournament. The striker received a straight red card for slamming into a Chilean opponent, showing his frustration after he adamantly claims Ireland should have been awarded a penalty. Even now, over 40 years on, there’s animation in the Athlone man’s voice when he speaks of the incident. He didn’t go quietly at the time either, as a match report in the Irish Times describes. Whilst making his way towards the dressing rooms, “On the way, O’Connor tore off his shirt and waved it at the jeering crowd”. Ireland had succumbed to their first defeat of the tournament, 2-1. That red card meant that O’Connor would sit out the final group fixture against Portugal, although Ireland were effectively out – needing to win by a considerable margin against the group favourites.

“Portugal would have been one of the favourites at the time, especially with the squad of players that they had”, explained O’Connor. Mick Leech scored for Ireland in what O’Connor describes as a disappointing 2-1 defeat [view goals]. “We played very well against Portugal and were very unlucky not to get a result. I was really looking forward to that one. I would have loved to play against Portugal and Eusébio too.”
Portugal went on to win the group and qualify for the 8-team elite phase. Then after seeing off: Argentina; Uruguay and Soviet Union, they rather ironically qualified for the Brazilian Independence Cup final against hosts, Brazil. Before a baying audience of over ninety-nine thousand, Brazil defeated their once colonial masters, 1-0 at the Maracanã in Rio de Janeiro. Jairzinho’s 89th minute deftly flicked header sealed an emotional triumph for Brazil, as 150 years on, Portugal were once again sent back across the Atlantic empty handed.
O’Connor went on to a distinguished club career as a player and a manager, although he only picked up a handful more Irish caps.

Film stars
Sipping on his tea and nibbling on a digestive, O’Connor reflects on the tournament as a special time. “There was a great atmosphere in the country (Brazil) for football. One thing, because you were representing a country, immediately they were in awe of you and they treated you like film stars more than footballers. That was one of the first times that I ever experienced that”.

For the love of it
The Julies Rimet trophy may not have been on offer for this tournament, but for O’Connor international football was about more than trophies and medals. “Today’s world when you think about some of the guys who have no enthusiasm to play for their country. It saddens me. With the finance and the money, it seems to have taken preference over the pride of actually playing for your country. You are going on a tour of Brazil for three weeks and playing for your country, money didn’t come into it at all. Being picked and presenting your country was far more important than money”.
Today, international cry-offs have become all too common place, as the modern footballer makes vast sums of money and views the evasion of international football as a means to extend their club careers, in a bid to prolong their earning power. However it is O’Connor who will re-call rich memories of pulling on the green jersey in the summer of ’72, when an international cap was priceless.

Andy Donlan


Seagulls A Bridge Too Far For United

Bray Wanderers 2-0 Killester United (Douglas 7’, Scully 58’)

Bray overcame non-league Killester United to advance to the semi-finals of the FAI Cup at a rain-swept Carlisle Grounds. For the second round in a row, Bray scored early in the game and eliminated a team in red n’ black stripes. This time however, there was no lineman’s flag to aid their progress – after the awarding of a controversial goal which knocked out Bohemians in the previous round. Some may have believed that Killester required divine inspiration to advance in this tie, against a Premier Division side hitting their peak. Indeed the Cross of Saint Brigid adorns the Killester United crest – St. Brigid was famed for the many miracles it was claimed she performed. No such inspiration was required tonight as the non-leagues matched their hosts in every department, bar the finishing. The axis of Lacey and Keogh were a constant threat to the Bray defence, however they came up short in a match played in the driving rain atop a greasy surface.

It was Bray Wanderers who got off to the better start and they went ahead from a corner after 7 minutes. Powerful defender Hugh Douglas shot into the box and his bullet header bulged the back of the net from 6 yards out to kill the early Killester spirit. It was the first goal that Killester United had conceded in this season’s competition. Bray threatened again from a set piece on 23, but Alan McNally’s header was wide.

The next clear chance was to come to non-league Killester as they edged their way back into this keenly fought contest. The impressive Michael Keogh struck the butt of the post from the edge of the area, but Lacey fired the rebound straight at goalkeeper, Peter Cherrie when he should have done better. Indeed it was Lacey who was centre to the game’s next big opening after 37 minutes. Having been slipped through 1-on-1 with Cherrie, the striker pulled the trigger, but the Scottish stopper saved well with his legs. It was Lacey who nearly made it through on goal again, though the threaded ball, bound for his feet was expertly blocked by Cooney’s sliding leg on the slick surface.

Killester squandered two glorious opportunities after the break before David Scully gave the hosts the insurance goal, turning home David Cassidy’s cross at the far post. Before that Alan Talbot rifled over when through 1-on-1 with Cherrie and the impressive Lacey had his goal-bound shot blocked from his attempt inside the area. There were further chances for both sides after that, as Lyons glazed United’s crossbar on 69, while Lacey stung Cherrie’s hands on 84. United ‘keeper, Keith Donoghue tipped over from Cassidy’s superb lob and saved well in Onwubiko’s 1-on-1 chance in injury time, as Bray’s superior fitness began to tell.

So Bray Wanderers advanced to the semi-finals, but they were made to work hard for the privilege. The Wicklow side will now pray for a kind draw on Monday and dream about emulating 1990 and 1999’s cup glory years, whilst Killester will wonder what might have been.

Bray Wanderers: Cherrie; Barker; Cooney; Douglas; McNally; Cassidy; Kelly; McEvoy; McGlynn; Lyons (Wixted 89’); Scully (Onwubiko 82’).
Subs not used: Fogarty; Gallagher; McDonagh; Mitchell; O’Reilly.

Killester United: Donoghue; McCormack; Kelly (Matthews 72’); Kavanagh; Hand; O’Reilly; Keogh; Chambers (Mooney 79’); Browning; Talbot (Lee 68’); Lacey.
Subs not used: O’Driscoll; McDonald; Farrell; Whelan.

Irish Daily Mail Man of the Match: Hugh Douglas

Attendance: 700 (estimate)

Continental Tyres Women's National League, Women's football

Mother’s Day Misery at Morton for Raheny

Raheny United 2-3 UCD Waves (Creagh 32′, 77′; O’Gorman 17′, Nolan 42′, Reid-Burke OG 57′)


UCD Waves advance on Wexford Youths at the top

If they say a week is a long time in football, then 819 days must seem like an eternity. Raheny United’s unbeaten league era was ended by Wexford Youths in February, after a 27 month unbeaten league period. Now they’ve lost two games in 21 days and look like relinquishing their hold on the Women’s National League trophy. This victory for UCD keeps the title race wide open approaching the final hurdle, with both Raheny United and UCD Waves still to face pole sitters Wexford Youths in an intriguing league climax.

UCD Waves defeated Raheny United at the fourth time of asking this season with a fully deserved victory on a bitterly cold Mother’s Day fixture at the Morton Stadium in Santry. Captain Áine O’Gorman led the way for Waves with the mother of all strikes, beating Ireland goalkeeper Niamh Reid-Burke with a pile driver from 30-yards. There wasn’t a lot on for O’Gorman when she received Orlagh Nolan’s pass, however advancing towards goal, the hard-working striker unleased an unstoppable shot into Reid-Burke’s top right hand corner. It was a strike that Stephanie Roche would struggle to better and it laid the foundations for Waves’ advance on Wexford Youths at the summit. One wonders what might have come to pass for Raheny had they had their full complement for 90 minutes. On the hour mark, Pearl Slattery was red-carded for something she said to the referee. Slattery protested and walked from the pitch, but later re-emerged onto the field at full-time and approached the match officials – a move that is sure to land her in hot water with the authorities.

On the pitch, Raheny United captain, Rebecca Creagh bravely equalised O’Gorman’s sizzler with a header, after Niamh Walsh’s overhead kick struck the underside of the bar following a corner on 32. However Waves were to surf into the half time break in the lead, as they made a set piece of their own pay. The ubiquitous O’Gorman took it and Orlagh Nolan supplied the free header to give her side the lead.

Twelve minutes into the second half Raheny found themselves further behind. Having attacked down the right wing, O’Gorman’s hard work won a corner off Niamh Walsh. O’Gorman dusted herself down and swerved a dangerous set piece into the six yard box, which Raheny goalkeeper, Reid-Burke palmed into her own net amongst a crowded penalty area. Reid-Burke was fresh from her penalty heroics during Ireland’s victory over Costa Rica in the Istria Cup last week. Pearl Slattery’s red card was to follow minutes later, compounding Raheny’s Mothers Day misery. But United weren’t out of it, as in the energetic Katie McCabe and Siobhan Killeen, they had a constant threat. On 77 minutes the latter was to make an impact, as Killeen went down in the box. Captain Creagh reduced the deficit to 3-2 from the spot. There were further half chances for both sides, but Raheny couldn’t further breach the UCD rear-guard, which was well marshalled by young Savanagh McCarthy.

Waves have now crept to within 5 points of leaders, Youths and you wouldn’t bet against final day drama, when Wexford travel to meet UCD Waves next month.

Raheny United: Reid-Burke; Newman; Keenan; Dwyer; Barnes (74′ Shine); Walsh; Slattery; Creagh; Rowe (74′ Brierley); Killeen; McCabe.

UCD Waves: McGuirk; Grant; McCarthy; Brien; Carroll; Thorpe (79′ Mustaki); Duggan; Nolan; Russell; Berrill (65’ Maguire); O’Gorman.

WFAI Cup, Women's football

WFAI Cup final – post match reaction

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.”

Top two
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.