Women’s Football Blast – 31st August

You know by now we love our Women’s National League here at Post to Post Sport. And! We love how well the senior international women’s team are doing. With all that being said we’re bringing out a new feature on our site where we look at the latest in Irish Women’s Football. Every Wednesday we’ll have the Women’s Football Blast looking at the latest in Women’s Football at home and internationally.

Cailín in Green

We are on the verge of something very special going into tomorrow. Ireland host Finland at Tallaght, with a win guaranteeing a place in the play-offs for the World Cup. Having beaten their visitors in Finland earlier in the campaign Ireland will go in as favorites. But this is a Finish side that played in the Euros last July and put up a reasonably good showing of themselves. There’s nothing easy about this match.

It’s not too long ago that Ireland were in a similar position of being a result away from the play-offs for the Euros. That now infamous game against Ukraine in which everything that could have gone wrong went wrong. Ireland conceded an own goal, missed a penalty, and let several good chances go to waste. It does show how far this Ireland team has come that we are talking about falling short of reaching a major tournament as a disappointment rather than a regular occurrence. This side was good enough to be there. Looking at how things played out Ireland would have played Northern Ireland in the play-offs, a side they have beaten in recent times. The group stage would have seen them play eventual winners England, a very competitive Austria, and a Norway who were pegged as dark horses but ultimately failed to impress.

There’s no point lingering on what might have been, except to use it as motivation. In particular it is criminal that Katie McCabe and Denise O’Sullivan have not featured in a major senior international tournament. This is a big chance. Megan Connolly’ scored the winner’s freekick and O’Sullivan’s header made the difference in a tough outing last time, and they have been two of many Irish players who have performed exceptionally well in recent times. We’re not too far removed from Irish players having to pay for their own tracksuits. Now these players have the world at their feet.

In Slovakia on Sunday there will be something to play for. If Ireland are beaten by Finland it will be a must win. If Ireland get a result tomorrow then Tuesday’s game will hold significance in terms of play-off ranking. Of the nine runners-up, the top three will get a bye to the final, with the other six playing in the semi-finals. The play-off system isn’t entirely straight forward but we’ll get to that next week if Ireland get that far.

1st – Automatic Qualification
2nd – Play-Offs
Teams play 8 games

Ireland host Finland tomorrow (Thursday) evening with kickoff at 19:00. The game is live on RTÉ2.

Women’s National League Round 21

With Shels back from WUCL duty there were five games last Saturday in the WNL.

Women’s National League Results

DLR Waves 1-0 Cork City

Goal: Dodd 30′ (1-0)

Peamount United 6-0 Treaty United

Goals: O’Hanlon 6′ (1-0), McLaughlin 41′ (2-0), O’Gorman 44′ (3-0),

McEvoy 46′ (4-0), O’Gorman 47′ (5-0), O’Callaghan 88′ (5-0)

Bohemians 2-5 Wexford Youths

Goals: Molloy 19′ (0-1), Bates-Crosbie 70′ (1-1), K. Murphy 73′ (1-2),

Sinnott 76′ (1-3), L. Murphy 79′ (2-3), Russell 83′ (2-4), Walsh 90+3 (2-5)

Athlone Town 4-2 Sligo Rovers

Goals: Carr 4′ (0-1), Keenan 15′ (1-1), Keenan (2-1), Brennan 44′ (3-1),

McGrory 77′ (3-2), Corbet 90+1 (4-2)

Galway 1-2 Shelbourne

Goals: Stapleton 37′ (0-1), Murray 66′ (0-2), Reynolds 73′ (1-2)

Title Race Remains Alive

It’s up for debate whether the title race is a two horse race, a two and a bit horse race, a three horse race, or a four horse race. The reality is if you take a look at the table the main players in the hunt for the title of champions are Shelbourne and Wexford Youths. Two points separate the sides, Wexford briefly moved top of the table on Saturday with Shels returning to the summit that same night. Maybe it is faith that these sides meet in the last round of the season, or maybe it was just scheduling with TV coverage in mind. Nonetheless both of last years FAI Cup finalists know that if they win all there remaining games they will be champions. And that means European football. Shelbourne fought well in there first round tournament in the qualifiers this season, and were not helped in the final by some… questionable refereeing. Boths sides will know the WUCL is the holy grail for WNL sides, and with only one place on offer the stakes in this title race are very high.

Both sides won on the weekend, going further back Youths are the form side. Shelbourne stuttered a bit in recent league games which saw the league open back up. They showed character in beating Galway at Eamonn Deacy Park on Saturday despite on returning from Slovenia earlier in the week. It’s always hard to know how a team will be effected when they come home from the Champions League qualifiers, but Shels got offer what in a sense was one of their most difficult hurdles this season. The champions have suffered for their success in the transfer window with plenty of big names turning pro, including Jess Ziu and Chloe Mustaki, both Ireland internationals. Their ace Noelle Murray remains at Tolka Park, and if she continues to find the net Shelbourne will be favourites for the title.

Wexford have won their last five games and are unbeaten since a shock loss to Sligo at the start of June. Since then they have gone to Tolka Park and beat the champions, put four past DLR Waves, and scored a combined total of eight goals in two games against Bohs. Their eight game unbeaten run has seen them score an average of 2.25 goals per game while conceding an average of 0.625. They boast that mix of youth and experience. players who have been around for a while like Kylie Murphy, Nicola Sinnott, and Edel Kennedy have helped keep things consistent while young stars like Ellen Molloy and Maeve Williams have had terrific seasons. Williams has broken into the first team after a long period of time playing under study and has shown she could find her way to an Ireland cap at some point. Molloy has been in the Ireland set up since she was a teenager and there’s not much else that can be said about her quality that hasn’t already been said. We may be seeing a changing of the guard at Ferrycarrig Park but this is far from a transitional phase. This Wexford team means business.

Then there’s Athlone Town and Peamount United. Two very different stories. If you had offered Athlone 3rd place in the league with 6 games to go they wouldn’t have event taken the offer seriously enough to bite the hand off you. Nobody thought they would be where they are. Even Tommy Hewitt at his most optimistic wouldn’t have had the Midlands side as title contenders this season. But as it happens they are six points of the league leaders, and whatever happens they are the story of the season. Peamount are a further two points back. After a start where they were ruthless and looked like they could run away with the league, they hit a brick wall and have struggled for consistency. In recent games they’ve found their form again. Finishing outside of the top three would be incredibly disappointing having been one game away from the title last time round. They sit eight points behind Shelbourne with a trip to Tolka Park coming up, and will also host Wexford in October. The last day of the season will be a trip to Galway, where they may well have flashbacks to last season when they led 0-2, had one hand on the trophy, but ultimately lost 2-5. The ageless Ireland centurion Áine O’Gorman is on course to pick up the golden boot, and her goals will be crucial in this title run-in.

Top Half

Back in 2020 the league was shortened due to the pandemic. There were only nine teams taking part, and with the delayed start we saw everybody play each other twice before the league was split into the top five and bottom four. That fourth and fifth spot became very valuable as it meant games against the usual top three. Cork and Galway took those places back then. The bottom four table was topped by DLR Waves, but unfortunately there was no shield-type award on offer. Then last year the league had a full season again. All the talk was about who would get fourth spot and be seen among the usual top sides. Shelbourne, Peamount, and Wexford took their usual place as the top sides, with DLR Waves finishing fourth, in what was a huge achievement for Graham Kelly’s side.

This year fifth place seems significant. Though the order of the top four is settled, the names probable are, which means there is one spot remaining in the top half of the table. Galway currently occupy that spot. DLR Waves move within three points of the Tribeswomen after their win on Saturday, and a much-improved Bohs side sit a further three points further behind. It may seem insignificant to people who don’t follow the league, but those who have been around for a while will know there has traditionally been a large gap between the top sides and the rest. A gap you could fit the giants causeway into. We are not too far removed from the big three beating the rest by margins of 8, 9, 10, and further into double-figures. That’s largely not the case anymore with the league becoming more competitive.

Finishing in the top half puts a marker down for next season that they are ready to challenge for the title. Waves will be disappointed to miss out after their breakthrough last season, Galway will want to get a breakthrough of their own, and it would be huge for Bohemians to get into the top half in just their third season.

The Other End

Cork and Sligo are in a battle to avoid finishing in the bottom two. There’s nothing tangible to win or lose, just to see who can take more positives from the season. Cork were impressive on the weekend and despite defeat managed to build on their win the week prior. That win came against Sligo. It would be harsh on the leagues newest side to finish lower than they currently sit based on how well they have taken to WNL life.

Then there is Treaty. Just one-point and without a win. For them the introduction of a second-tier, touted to come in by 2025, cannot come quick enough. It would stand to them to play teams they are on par with rather than to be hammered every week. More teams are set to join the WNL next season, but there probably is no point on having two divisions with anything less than eight teams each. Next week we will look a bit at how the league could work with promotion and relegation.

DLR Waves Die Hards

Naturally we were ecstatic to see the Waves pick up a first win in 4 games. The winning goal was Mia Dodd’s smooth freekick from close range.

Mia Dodd was awarded player of the match for an outstanding performance. She played the majority of the game out of position as a centre-back rather than her usual midfield role and looked comfortable throughout. For reasons never quite explained they let Ron do an interview for the official social media.

An exceptional display by Mia, as it was by her defensive partner Louise Corrigan who has been on a role since returning to a regular starting position after long standing injury. We spoke with Louise after the game about how it feels to be back, new defensive partners, and the aim for the run-in.

Another Wave who recently made her comeback is Kerri Letmon (Letmane as she is to us). She came on as a sub in the second-half and played as a left-back rather than her usually position as a winger. We spoke to Kerri about her about her return.

A mention as well to Aoife Brophy and Sarah McKevitt. Aoife had a stormer at right-back and Sarah was constantly. threatening going forward.

As It Stands

Everyone stays where they were after the round 21 games
Transfers

All the best to Tiegan Ruddy who moves on from Peamount and joins FC Sion of Switzerland.

Around the Web

As always it’s worth watching this weeks WNL Wrap with Emma Clinton. Emma always does a fantastic job of rounding up the games and this week she was joined by Seana Cooke and Meabh De Burca.

Unfortunately there was an incident at the game between Peamount and Shelbourne a few weeks ago. A spectator was found to have shouted homophobic and misogynistic abuse at a Peamount player. Shelbourne released a statement.

Hopefully this idiot gets a ban for life. There’s no place for homophobia or misogyny anywhere in this game.

The league continues to grow with more teams joining the underage ranks with a view to having a senior team in years to come. Finn Harps are the latest League of Ireland side to announce they will be partaking in the league at u17 and u19 levels.

Impetus Women’s Football is a blog dedicated to covering Women’s Football around the World!

On ImpetusFootball.Org you will find write-ups from Sweden, the UK, France, and further afield with pieces covering football in Australia, around Africa, and through the Americas! We are contributing with pieces on the Women’s National League after each round of games. We’ll have quick match reports for each of the WNL games that take place. The write-ups will usually come out on Tuesdays.

You can read our write-up on Impetus here!

Up Next…

There’s no WNL action this weekend as we are into the international break. The Republic of Ireland have one of their biggest games in herstory as they face Finland. A win would guarantee a play-off place, with the ranking still to be decided. The game takes place this Thursday with kick-off at 19:00 Irish time, the game will be live of RTÉ. Next Tuesday Ireland are away to Slovakia in their final game of the qualifying group. We’ll have a piece up looking at what Ireland need against Finland and Slovakia, and our thoughts ahead of the game.

The following weekend (September 10th) round 22 of the Women’s National League takes place with five games.

Saturday 10th September Fixtures

Sligo Rovers vs Galway

The Showgrounds / 14:00

DLR Waves vs Athlone Town

UCD Bowl / 16:00

Treaty United vs Bohemians

Markets Field / 17:00

Wexford Youths vs Cork City

Ferrycarrig Park / 18:00

Shelbourne vs Peamount United

Tolka Park / 19:35

Make sure you follow @PostToPostSport on Twitter and Instagram. If you enjoyed this WNL Blast please consider contributing to our fundraiser for Ireland’s National Autism Charity. All season we have been doing different fundraiser charities for to raise money for and awareness of As I Am. You can read all about our challenges so far and why we are doing this on our fundraiser page here. And you can contribute to the fundraiser on our iDonate here.

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