By Gerard Mulreaney (@gerardmulreaney)
At the beginning of the year most observers would have picked the likes of last season’s treble winners Wexford Youths, Shelbourne or Peamount United as the teams to claim silverware throughout the Women’s National League season.
However, looking further west of the country Billy Cleary’s Galway WFC side are making people sit up and take notice. They started the season with a 6-3 victory over Limerick before a 2-1 reverse to Wexford Youths, having played almost 50 minutes with 10 players, and an exciting 1-1 draw with Shelbourne in Tolka Park on Saturday afternoon.
In those latter two games Galway have more than held their own, and could quite conceivable have won both of those games.
Speaking to Galway captain Keara Cormican after the game, it was notable how disappointed she was, “As a team we’re actually disappointed with the result. Last year we would have been delighted with this result, but we feel that we have pushed on this year and that we can take 3 points of any team in the league.”
Cormican speaks very highly of the management team of Billy Cleary and Max Sweeney.
Billy and Maz have instilled a belief in us that we now know we can beat any team in this league. We thought that we deserved to at least a share of points against Wexford, but unfortunately we didn’t.”
Galway WFC have never won a trophy at National League level but the captain says that the time is right to change that, “100% Galway will be in the mix for honours this year.
It’s about time now that we brought some silverware to this side of the country and not leave it up to the other sports to bring success. It will be interesting to see how the games against Wexford Youths, Peamount and Shelbourne will go when we get to play them in Eamon Deacy Park.”
The Westerners have only played three games and have yet to play a game at home so far this season. Postponements due to weather and International call-ups meaning that they’ve played three straight away games, something that hasn’t been easy. Cormican said, “It has been frustrating for us to be honest. It’s been very much start stop, with the match on Saturday only being our third match since the 10th of March. It’s difficult to build momentum when your match schedule isn’t consistent but unfortunately there isn’t much we can do. However, we have a good run of games now before our next break so we are really looking forward to that.”
The 24 year-old defender has been with the club since 2012 and took over the captaincy this season from Irish International Méabh de Búrca, who she says was an incredible captain for the club. Cormican said her team-mates make her role as captain easy, “I feel so proud to be part of this team never mind the captain of the team. The girls are all so hardworking, both on and off the field, and there is such a bond between all the players and the management team. To be honest there’s so many leaders in the team, so it makes my role very easy.”
Herself and her central defensive partner Shauna Fox have formed a formidable partnership at the back for Galway. She puts that mainly down to communication and familiarity, “I suppose we have played together for the past 6 years or so and know each other’s play so well. We communicate very well and I think that is the key, especially in defence.”
In the game in Tolka Park on Saturday, Galway fielded four players who were involved with the Irish U19’s at the UEFA European Championship Qualifiers in Spain. That would’ve been five, except Rachel Baynes was suspended.
Four of the #IRLWU19 team who performed admirably in Spain in European Championship Qualifying last week lined out for @GalwayWFC today in Tolka Park @_lucialobato Sadhbh Doyle @ChloeSingleton0 and @leahbrady81 👏🏻👏🏻👏🏻 #WNL 🇮🇪🇮🇪 pic.twitter.com/DMadkC69Sa
— League of Ireland (@league_ireland) April 13, 2019
“It is absolutely fantastic for the girls, both on a personal level and also for the club. For them to make themselves available for the match yesterday shows their commitment to this team. It’s great experience for the girls and they will bring a wealth of knowledge into the team from these experiences,” said Cormican.
I then asked the Science teacher, who teaches in Seamount College in Kinvara, what is the best thing about playing in the Women’s National League. She said, “I think the best thing is the people that you meet and the fiends you make. You see the girls nearly every second day and so they are as close as you can get to family at this stage.”
And the worst?
“I think that the worst thing is the lack of knowledge that people have about women’s soccer and the league in this country. Not even the results or fixtures, but when officials have to confirm that we play 45 minutes a half during the match is very poor, and frustrating as a player. The 20X20 campaign is working towards more support and promotion of women’s sport in Ireland, and I’m hoping that there will be more respect and improvements towards the women’s game soon as a result of this.”
Galway will host DLR Waves in Eamon Deacy Park next Saturday night and Cormican and her team-mates can’t wait for it, “Everyone is really looking forward to every game this season but particularly this one as it is our first home game of the season. We want to set the standard high at home and make sure that teams fear coming to the West.”
Main photo credit: Galway WFC