By Gerard Mulreaney (@gerardmulreaney)
Limerick goalkeeper Karen Connolly celebrated her 18th birthday in style at the weekend, as she helped her team-mates qualify for the semi-finals of the Só Hotels Women’s National League Cup.
Dave Rooney’s side, who joined the league in 2018, had only ever beaten Kilkenny United (3 times) before Sunday’s encounter at the home of Fairview Rangers. Galway arrived for this Cup tie in good form, coming off a 3-0 win over DLR Waves following on from good performances against two title contenders in Wexford Youths and Shelbourne.
Veteran Sylvia Gee had given Limerick a surprise lead after half an hour, when her free-kick took a wicked deflection off one of the Galway defenders. Shannon Parbat hit the crossbar for Limerick on the hour mark as the blues looked to go two goals up.
However, deep into injury time Galway got a lifeline when they were awarded a penalty, for what looked like handball. Up stepped Shauna Fox to take the kick, but Connolly had other ideas, as she dived to her left and saved the kick.
Connolly was thrilled afterwards as said she was really looking forward to the game, “Yeah I had a good game. It was my 18th birthday on Saturday so I was looking forward to the match. It was really end to end action, with both teams looking like they were going to score. It was a very intense match. We are a young enough team and with each game we’re improving. We are really clicking as a team now.”
She also put one over her fellow Galway girls as she explains, “Being from Galway I know all the girls, and even played with some of them, so I knew it was going to be a hard match.”
Connolly was superb throughout, making numerous saves, including the dramatic late penalty, “I had a couple of really good saves along with the penalty save. I had a feeling that she was going to go that way and I just trusted myself and it paid off.”
The young goalkeeper feels she’s really improved since joining Limerick and gives credit to her coach, “I feel that since I came to Limerick I have gotten a lot better as a player. Ray, the goalkeeping coach down here has really helped in improving my whole performance. I feel my kicking, both from my hands and off the ground have made a big difference.”
She’s loving her time in Limerick and said that her hard work is paying off, “Dave (Rooney) the manager, has really put his trust in me this year, which is great because I have really put in a lot of hard work since I signed with them at the start of last season. We have a really unique set-up in limerick, as both the U17s and seniors train with each other, which I find is very important for integrating the U17s with the seniors. We really are one big family.”
Picture Credit: Limerick Women FC