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Women’s Football Blast: Round 2 Looms

Later than we had hoped here’s this week’s Women’s Football Blast. To pull back to curtain this writer has been busy with college and work, we hope from April for more consistency with the publishing day which will ideally be Wednesdays.

Women’s Premier Division
Round 1 Results

Galway United 0-1 Wexford Youths
Goals: Ciara Rossiter 61′ (0-1)

Shelbourne 6-0 Cork City
Goals: Siobhán Killeen 22′ (1-0), Megan Smyth Lynch 40′ (2-0), 47′ (3-0),
Kayla Hamric 66′ (4-0), 84′ (5-0), Rebecca Devereux 88′ (6-0)

Sligo Rovers 1-2 Shamrock Rovers
Goals : Shauna Fox 8′ (0-1), Emma Hansberry 58′ (1-1), Áine O’Gorman 90+2 (1-2)

Treaty United 0-1 Bohemians
Goals: Rachel Doyle P 60′ (0-1)

Athlone Town 1-3 Peamount United
Goals: Chloe Singleton 4′ (1-0), Kate Mooney 9′ (1-1), Erin McLaughlin 39′ (1-2),
Karen Duggan P 80′ (1-3)

Premier Division Kicks Off

A highly anticipated Premier Division season kicked off last Saturday.


Goals: 15
Home Goals: 8
Away Goals: 7
Clean Sheets: 3
Home Wins: 1
Away Wins: 4
Draws: 0

Wexford Youths were made to battle away to Galway. It was a tight edgy game that the away sides edged thanks to a classy finish from Ciara Rossiter. Youths will have games in which they score more goals, but early season games sometimes require just getting a win. Once the front two of Rianna Jarrett and Emily Corbett click and Elen Molloy returns it will become very difficult to keep clean sheets against Wexford. Credit to Galway who were well organised, Abbiegayle Ronayne had a good game in goal.
Shelbourne got off to a flying start with a thumping win that puts them top of the table early on. New signing Kayla Hamric and Ireland u16’s coach Megan Smyth-Lynch ensured they wouldn’t miss any of their departed players. Cork City will have better days out and it’s far too early to write them off.
In the late game Peamount were the better team away to Athlone, despite the President’s Cup winners bright start. Kate Mooney would be a good shout for the leagues top scorer, her work rate and finishing could see her in the Ireland set up by the end of the year.
Shamrock Rovers left it late away to a battling Sligo Rovers, with Áine O’Gorman popping up with a crucial goal as she often has. Shauna Fox had a fantastic game.
Treaty United will have plenty of positives to take from their game against Bohs, but it was the Dublin side that got the win thanks to a penalty from one of the league most underrated talents in Rachel Doyle.

As it Stands

Fixtures This Week

Women’s Premier Division
Saturday 11th March

Bohemians vs Shelbourne
Dalymount Park / 15:00

Cork City vs Galway United
Turner’s Cross / 17:00

Peamount United vs DLR Waves
PRL Park / 17:00

Shamrock Rovers vs Treaty United
Tallaght Stadium / 17:30

Wexford Youths vs Sligo Rovers
Eamonn Deacey Park / 18:00

Round 2 Looms

The first of many Dublin derbies is followed by the second of many Dublin derbies this season. Shelbournes face a tricky away day at Bohs to build on their early win in their title defense. Cork host Galway United in what will feel like the real start to their season at home. We get our first look at a young DLR Waves side away to Peamount who impressed last week. Shamrock Rovers play their first home women’s game in a long time with Treaty the visitors. Wexford Youths look to build a good start in their title chase.

All games life on LOITV.ie, €5 individually or you can get a season pass for €120 which allows you to watch men’s LOI games too.

Ireland World Cup Squad

In last week’s Women’s Football Blast we wrote that with the increased popularity in the women’s game and the recent success of the national side over the past two years, there is danger that casual fans gain the impression that women’s football in Ireland was only invented this past decade. We shouldn’t forget that the Women’s National League had players, coaches, and volunteers desperately trying to keep teams going over the past 10+ years.
In the latest Ireland camp there were call-ups for new recently qualified players. Saoirse Noonan said in an interview that she wouldn’t complain if these new faces took one of her spots.
The issue here isn’t that players weren’t born in Ireland, far from it. here have been many faces in squads who were born in different countries but qualified for Ireland through ancestors. Whether it’s been England, Scotland, or the USA these players have given there all for the green jersey and are worthy of representing our country. As are new faces who have only recently qualified.
The issue is however, hotshotting new recruits into the team ahead of the World Cup. There’s a danger with doing so that players are only interested in playing now that there’s a major tournament. Over 35 players were used across extended squads during the last qualifying campaign, and there’s no shortage of talent within that pool of players.
FIFA rejected the call to have 26-woman squads at the World cup, so it will be 23 players who make their way with some in reserve (3 of them have to be goalkeepers as always). That’s not a lot of places on the plane, and surely those that got us to the tournament deserve the majority of the places. There are injuries and will be more. It looks like Leanna Kiernan may be out for another little while, Ellen Molloy isn’t back from injury yet, Jess Ziu has unfortunately been ruled out. But there is enough talent to build a squad without using players that just made the switch in the last few months.
There’s a lot of football to be played yet and it would be hard to pick a squad now, there me be bolters at home and abroad. But really there’s enough players who have been used to provide Ireland with a strong enough squad to compete.


Ireland captain Katie McCabe helped Arsenal end their trophy drought with a stellar performance in the League Cup Final.


Women’s Football Blast – Play-Off

Due to work commitments we were unable to bring the WFB to you last week, but we’re back with a particular focus on next Tuesday.

Cailín in Green

We’ve been counting down the days until Tuesday 11th October for some time despite not knowing who the opponents are. After Thursdays first round games we know Scotland will be the destination for Ireland.

The Scots will be favourites, but it’s the lesser of two evils. Austria were strong in the Euros over the Summer, picking up two wins and putting it up to eventual champions England. Scotland are a team Ireland are more familiar with in terms of personnel, and it’s a shorter trip. Scotland will go into the game as favourites, but Ireland will benefit from their opponents having played 120 minutes just 5 days earlier. Scotland are looking to make their second consecutive appearance at a World Cup, having made their major tournament bow in the 2019 edition in France.

Match Fact: This will be the 22nd time Ireland and Scotland have met in a senior women’s game, making Scotland Ireland’s most frequent opponents.

Looking at the Scotland line-up from their first round victory, they play with a 1-4-3-3. Matching that up with Ireland’s usual 1-5-2-3 raises the question on what Ireland will do in the midfield. Having just a midfield 2 against a 3, particularly with Ruesha Littlejohn out, could lead to a bit of an overload. Against a front 3, it’s likely if Ireland go with 3 center-backs and wing-backs, it will be more of a flat back 5. That leaves a bit of a gap in the middle of the park.

The solution may be to change to more of a 1-5-3-2, or a 1-5-4-1. Both have their drawbacks. I would favour a 1-5-3-2 as leaving just one up front could see them isolated. A front 2 of Heather Payne and Amber Barrett could reek havoc on the Scottish defense in front of a midfield trio of Lilly Agg, Denise O’Sullivan, and Katie McCabe. There’s a real work-rate quality to that midfield, and although McCabe has done very well in a more advanced role, this is going to be a game for getting stuck in in the middle of the park. Saoirse Noonan is another option to start upfront as she’s been on good form for Durham. We saw when the men’s teams played not long ago the game was essentially a derby, it’ll be a similar situation here.

In the penultimate game of the group stage, against Finland, Ireland started slow. Finland needed a win and were the better team for the opening 30 minutes. The worry is that situation repeats itself. This time there will be a smaller contingent of Ireland fans to get behind the team, Ireland will need to start strong to squash any momentum the home side get from their crowd.

Of course, a win for Ireland (or Scotland) would not necessarily see Ireland progress to the World Cup. Of the 3 play-off winners only the two highest ranked will qualify directly for next Summer’s competition in Australia and New Zealand. The other will have to go to the inter-continental play-offs. This will involve playing 1 or 2 further games. We’ll look at the format of that if it comes to it. The other two play-offs are:

Switzerland vs Wales
Portugal vs Iceland

Ireland would need a win coupled with a defeat for at least one of Switzerland or Iceland, who are ranked above Ireland. In the two games above, Portugal are more likely to do Ireland a favor, having performed well in the Euros. The main thing is winning our game, which as we’ve made clear, is no guarantee.

Team News
The big team news in recent days has been Keeva Keenan of Shelbourne coming in to replace former teammate Jess Ziu. Ziu has been a big player for Ireland in the two recent games, and her spark will be missed. As well as Ziu and Littlejohn, Ireland will also be without Megan Connolly, Savannah McCarthy, Aoife Covill, Ellen Molloy, and Leanne Kiernan, who are all injured. Liverpool captain Niamh Fahey and for Shels star Jamie Finn return to the squad after missing the Slovakia game, and Niamh Farrelly, Roma McLaughlin, Isibeal Atkinson, and Kyra Carusa are all recalled.

Extended 29 Woman Ireland Squad:

Goalkeepers: Courtney Brosnan, Grace Moloney, Megan Walsh, Eve Badana.
Defenders: Harriet Scott, Keeva Keenan, Claire O’Riordan, Diane Caldwell, Louise Quinn, Niamh Fahey. Hayley Nolan, Chloe Mustaki, Megan Campbell, Áine O’Gorman.
Midfielders: Katie McCabe (Captain), Denise O’Sullivan, Jamie Finn, Ciara Grant, Lilly Agg, Niamh Farrelly, Roma McLaughlin, Lucy Quinn, Isibeal Atkinson.
Forwars: Heather Payne, Amber Barrett, Abbie Larkin, Saoirse Noonan, Kyra Carusa

A total of four players currently playing in the WNL, with much of the squad having come through the domestic league. There’s a real depth there in that 28. Ireland will certainly have a strong bench to choose from.

The Team We’d Like To See Start:
Formation: 1-5-3-2
Courtney Brosnan,
Niamh Fahey, Louise Quinn, Diane Caldwell, Jamie Finn, Chloe Mustaki,
Lilly Agg, Denise O’Sullivan, Katie McCabe,
Heather Payne, Amber Barrett.

It’s the biggest game in the history of Irish football, and this is probably the best position Ireland have been in in terms of overall squad quality and facilities. All but 4 of the players in the squad are playing professional football, with many playing for a top tier club. There’s a real opportunity here. In the past Ireland have had legends like Emma Byrne and Olivia O’Toole who made a name for themselves playing for Ireland but ultimately never got to do it at a major tournament in the green jersey. Back in 2017 the Ireland squad was forced to threaten strike action just to get decent working conditions. Only recently has the agreement been struck for the women’s international side to be paid the same as the men. It’s been a long road for this Ireland team to get a decent shot with some actual backing. They’ve taken that chance. This Ireland side, under Vera Pauw, were so close to making the Euros, ultimately that tournament went on without the Girls in Green. Now there’s a place at the World Cup beckoning for an squad that boasts modern day Irish legends in Katie McCabe and Denise O’Sullivan.

Whatever the result on Tuesday this has been a momentous campaign. But this Ireland side is so far above moral victories that all involved in the camp will feel they deserve to be there.

Back Home

Since we’ve last published this feature, we’ve had two cup semi-finals and another round of league games.

Women’s National League Results – Round 24

Galway 2-3 DLR Waves
Goals: Ellerose O’Flaherty 5′ (1-0), Shauna Carroll 8′ (1-1), Katie Malone 11′ (1-2),
Jamie Erickson 52′ (2-2), Avril Brierley 85′ (2-3)

Shelbourne 2-1 Cork City
Goals: Becky Cassin P 24′ (0-1), OG 45′ (1-1), Megan Smyth-Lynch 87′ (2-1)

Athlone Town 2-1 Wexford Youths
Goals: Aoibheann Clancy P 8′ (0-1), Kellie Brennan 21′ (1-1), Gillian Keenan 82′ (2-1)

Peamount United 1-0 Bohemians
Goals: Stephanie Roche 29′ (1-0)

Sligo Rovers 1-1 Treaty United
Goals: Cara Griffin 9′ (0-1), Lauren McLellan 83′ (1-1)


The only change of position after the last round of games in DLR Waves moving back above Bohemians. With Athlone beating Wexford Youths the gap between the top 4 is now just 3 points. Next week we’ll go through title-race permutations ahead of the final 3 rounds.

Athlone Town

Really we could have done a piece on the Midlands side every week, such has been the nature of their remarkable season. Tommy Hewitt is manager of the year no matter what happens, and what could happen is Athlone winning a league and cup double.

Over the past 3 weekends Athlone have beaten reigning champions Shelbourne in the league, knocked holders Wexford out of the cup, and gone to Wexford the following week and beat the league leaders. They are a serious team, and we are seeing the dawning of some new big names in the WNL.

Gillian Keenan scored what is a crucial header at this stage of the title race. She headed in a corner after substitute Emily Corbet did so well to win the set piece. Muireann Devaney has been a sensation. The way she moves the ball around and the ground she covers will surely see her in the Ireland set up soon. Kellie Brennan was player of the match. She scored the equalizer, having scored against Shels two weeks prior. When asked if they are eyeing up the league in her post match interview she said “Why wouldn’t ya?” That’s just it, why wouldn’t they? If they keep that team together we’ll be seeing Athlone around the top of the table for a while.

Close to a Big One

Two things nearly happened during the last game round. Cork almost went to Tolka Park and beat Shelbourne, and Treaty United nearly got a first win of the season against Sligo Rovers.

If either of the Munster sides had won it would have been deserved, Cork have come into their own unfortunately late in the season. Treaty have made a good go of games but it’s been clear they’ll likely find themselves in the second tier when it comes in.

Still, a good week with the two bottom sides showing they can be competitive. We don’t need to go back to the days of 10+ margins of victory.

Up Next

Women’s National League Round 25 – Saturday 15th October

Wexford Youths vs Sligo Rovers
Ferrycarrig Park / 16:30

Cork City vs Peamount United
Turners Cross / 17:00

DLR Waves vs Shelbourne
Whitehall Stadium / 17:00

Treaty United vs Athlone Town
Markets Field / 17:00

Bohemians vs Galway
Dalymount United / 18:00

Irish Abroad

Ireland international Chloe Mustaki scored her first professional goal last weekend.

One thing we didn’t get to talk about with no WFB last week was Clare Shine announcing her retirement.

Clare has been an excellent player in her time, but more significantly she has been an important advocate for mental health awareness in Irish sport. She’s contributed to the conversation in hugely important ways. We wish Clare all the best going forward.

Before You Go

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And if you’ve enjoyed any of our stuff please take a look at our fundraiser for Ireland’s National Autism Charity. You can read up on the different challenges we’ve done and why we chose to raise money for As I Am. The link to donate is on our charity fundraiser page, all donations are greatly appreciated and every little bit goes a long way.

The Women’s Football Blast will be back next Wednesday (or a day closely following Wednesday) with all the Irish women’s football content you can handle.