Tag Archives: irish sport

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

Make sure you follow @PostToPostSport on Twitter and PostToPostSport on Instagram.

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.


Women’s Football Blast – September 14th

It’s a Thursday Women’s Football Blast this week, we’ll be back to our regular Wednesday slot next week.

At Home

The Women’s National League returned after the international break with five games bringing in 20 goals.

Women’s National League Results – Saturday 10th September

Sligo Rovers 2-5 Galway

Goals: McGrory 8′ (1-0), Erickson 10′ (1-1), McGrory 16′ (2-1), Brennan 38′ (2-2), Reynolds 50′ (2-3), Singleton 62′ (2-4), Slattery 70′(2-5)

DLR Waves 1-1 Athlone Town

Goals: Mooney 39′ (1-0), Gibson 77′ (1-1)

Treaty United 0-4 Bohemians

Goals: Doyle 41′ (0-1), Brophy 49′ (0-2), Brophy 55′ (0-3), Prior 69′ (0-4)

Wexford Youths 5-1 Cork City

Goals: Dring 10′ (0-1), Clancy P 39′ (1-1), Clancy P 54′ (2-1), Rossiter 67′ (3-1), Molloy 79′ (4-1), Murphy 83′ (5-1)

Shelbourne 0-1 Peamount United

Goals: Roche 75′ (0-1)

As It Stands

With five games to go the big takeaway is the change in league leaders.

Wexford Move Top

Last week we said the title race is between a two to four horse race. It’s certainly four now with Shelbourne dropping points but Wexford are clear frontrunners. The lead is one point, but form wise this Wexford side look unstoppable.

As the title race takes another turn, here’s the thoughts of a good friend of Post to Post Sport, Wexford Youths and Wexford FC media officer Ronan McCarthy:

Last year’s WNL took a shock turn in the final weekend live on TG4, when Peamount’s defeat at home to Galway handed the title over to Shelbourne after their win against the Youths. Looking at the final four games of this season, absolutely anything is possible once again. The early season form of Shelbourne was the strongest in WNL history – with 12 straight wins with 12 straight cleansheets. It looked for all the world like Shelbourne would not be stopped, as they moved 10 points clear of their nearest rivals. Surely a procession for the final few months. Far from it. After the departures of Jess Ziu and Saoirse Noonan mid-season, Shelbourne’s form has looked far more human. Wexford Youths have clung on to Shelbourne’s coat-tails for dear life for much of this season, but are now hitting imperious form of their own, and they have now moved themselves to league leaders by a single point. Some amazing weeks ahead for WNL fans, with all eyes certainly on Ferrycarrig Park on the final day 29th October as the Youths play host to Shelbourne. A title-decider for the ages.

Ronan McCarthy (@RonanTheGreek)

A legend of the league Kylie Murphy had a landmark to celebrate, reaching 100 club goals. Considering a lot of them were from midfield it’s a very impressive stat. The 100 includes a Champions League hat trick, which not a lot of Irish players can boast.

A proud moment for Kylie, up there with calling teammate Ciara Rossiter “a bit of a whingebag (in training)” on our podcast once. Multiple Wexford Youths players have backed-up this assertion.

Galway Set To Depart

On Sunday just after 18:00 Galway WFC released the following statement:

At a time where the women’s game is growing in Ireland it’s not the news we would hope for. Galway is a big region to not have a team. Particularly with the expansion of the league to two tiers expected by 2025, it’s not a good sign to have a side drop out.

Attention turned quickly to Galway United, who have since released a statement saying they are looking at the possibility of taking over the women’s side.

The statement is a bit vague. There is talk that every men’s League of Ireland side have to be linked in with a women’s side. But it’s important that those links aren’t fast-tracked. One thing we don’t need in the WNL is teams coming in for a short stint and dropping out. If Galway United do take over it’s important it’s done in the right way with academy structures. There needs to be sustainability there rather than just a quick fix.

With talk of the league going semi-professional it’s not a good sign to have Galway talking about struggling to make it to the end of the season. Hopefully this gets cleared up and we still have Galway in the league next season. I’s a bit messy right now but there’s too much talent between all age levels in Galway women’s football to not have a senior team.

Optimistically we can hope that Galway United come in and we have a well run club with underage structures. We don’t need lip service to the women’s game, we need real commitment to growing the women’s game.


While Wexford beat Cork in convincing fashion in the end, there was a major turning point in the first half. Cork had taken the lead and were holding their own before the ref gave a penalty for, well, not a whole lot really.

It’s a head scratching decision that really doesn’t reflect well on the league. While standards of officiating have improved this season (foul throws are being called at least), it let’s down the league when we are talking about refereeing decisions like this.

Watching it again it’s still hard to believe this was given. Minimal.

Bohs Summer Recruits Turning Heads

Niamh Prior and Rachel Doyle got on the scoresheet for Bohemians over the weekend (admittedly Doyle’s shot took a generous deflection but it’s what we call a Doyleginho special). Both players joined from Waves over the Summer in search of more game time.

Prior and Doyle have shown they are well worth a starting place with their performances over the last while, particularly in attack. Rachel Doyle has long been one of the most talented midfielders in the league with exceptional vision. Niamh Prior is a versatile player who is now getting the chance to shine in a more attack-minded wide role. Both players are proving to be big assets to their new club and will help Bohs in their quest to finish the league in strong fashion. Interestingly, their next game is against their former side DLR Waves, who fellow Bohs stars Ciara Maher and Katie Burdis also played for last season.

Cup Semi-Finals Approach

For four clubs this weekend offers a last chance for four clubs to build momentum for the FAI Cup semi-finals.

FAI Cup Semi-Finals -September 24th

Shelbourne vs Bohemians, Tolka Park, K/O 14:00

Athlone Town vs Wexford Youths, Athlone Town Stadium, K/O 16:30

Tolka park should be packed for this Dublin Derby a Shels and Boohs season ticket holders will be allowed in for free. That’s a great initiative that should contribute to an amazing atmosphere.

Three of the teams in that line-up are in the title race. Athlone Town are six points of 1st spot in the league but may feel that the cup is a better chance of silverware. Bohemians have proven to be formidable this season, and this is their defining game. Athlone and Bohs appearing in a cup final just three seasons into their spells in the WNL would be an incredible achievement and a statement of intent. If neutrals are looking at this game they may be hoping that we see both sides in the final for a guaranteed underdog winner.

It wouldn’t be unreasonable to think Shels or Wexford could be preoccupied, but neither will overlook their cup games. There’s only two chances for silverware since the League Cup hasn’t been played for a 3rd consecutive season, this is an important game for both these sides.

Up Next

Athlone will know they need to beat Shelbourne to stay in the title race, anything less than three points and the gap will be too much to make up. Cork host Galway in an emotional week for the away side, Cork will be looking to build on recent improved performances. Peamount can’t afford to drop points against Sligo as they try to keep pace with the top two. DLR Waves will be aiming to keep their unbeaten run going and distance themselves from Bohs in a Dublin derby. Wexford have momentum on their side as they host bottom side Treaty.

Saturday 17th September Fixtures

Athlone Town vs Shelbourne

Athlone Town Stadum / 16:30

Cork City vs Galway

Turners Cross / 17:00

Peamount United vs Sligo Rovers

PRL Park / 17:00

Bohemians vs DLR Waves

Dalymount Park / 18:00

Wexford Youths vs Treaty United

Ferrycarrig Park / 18:00

Remember you can watch every game that is not on TG4 live on LOITV.ie for free with sign-up.

Cailín in Green

Ireland have been drawn to play the winners of the tie between Scotland and Austria in the play-off second leg. The game will be away from home.

It’s a difficult draw as the Scots and Austrians are both ranked higher and have major tournament appearances to their name. In the World Rankings Ireland sit 26th, Scotland are 23rd, while Austria are 20th. Scotland would probably be the preferred draw with it being a shorter trip. Austria were impressive in the Euros over the Summer.

One of the best stories in this team is Chloe Mustaki. The left wingback has had an emotional year, making her Ireland debut after battling cancer and serious injury.

We spoke with Chloe about Ireland making the play-offs, how competitive the squad is, and her move from Shelbourne to Bristol City.

We all dream of a team of Mustaki’s

As Chloe mentioned there’s plenty of football to be played before the play-off on October 11th with the English domestic season kicking off this weekend after a delayed start.

Around the Web

Read up our report of the latest round of WNL games on ImpetusFootball.Org.

Make sure you have a look at this weeks WNL Wrap:

On Sunday Cathal Dennehy wrote up a piece for the Independent on Ireland international Savannah McCarthy. Cathal spoke with Savannah about representing the Travelling Community and recovering from injury. You can read it here.

FinalWhistle.ie had one of Ireland’s best defenders, Louise Quinn, on their podcasts.

Make sure you follow @TheWNLShow on Twitter for all things Irish women’s football.

One Last Thing…

Make sure you follow @PostToPostSport on Twitter and PostToPostSport on Instagram.

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 with all the Irish women’s football content you can handle.