Soccer

Dear Women’s National League…

Dear the Women’s National League,

First of all, fans around the country would like to report that they did (just about) manage to recover from the weekend’s football induced heart palpitations that bore witness to one of the best showcases of drama the Irish game has ever seen.

Squid Game, Greys Anatomy or any play on Broadway wouldn’t have a patch on the production of a spectacle that unfolded to conclude this year’s league at PRL and Tolka Park under the bright lights of Tg4’s cameras.

A strike each from Aine O’Gorman and Tiegan Ruddy saw Peamount United take an early 2-0 lead, looking home and hosed to be hoisting the league trophy and cracking open the champagne for the third successive year, an achievement that had never been pulled off before.

That accolade still is up for grabs thanks to Shelbourne’s 2021 squad and a touch of help from Stephen Lally’s Galway.

The Westerners having tendered The Reds a favour to equalise and put a further three nails into Peas’s title hopes put on the performance of a lifetime during their 5-2 battle, so much so that the celebrations developing from their sensational goals in Greenogue could be heard around 30km away in the notorious North Dublin ground.

Meanwhile Athlone Town and Bohemians’ encounter concluded on level terms, as did their table positioning on points but The Gypsies finished minimally ahead on goal difference, while the day prior saw DLR Waves finish out a strong top four campaign as Treaty were left yearning for improvement next year when their tie granted a 3-1 scoreline.

A fitting end to a fantastic season there is plenty to reminisce on and savour before it all cycles around again next year. Relive the success of the season all over again by reflecting on the following!

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Golden Glove

Karen Duggan and Amanda Budden’s household may have been an awkward one at the weekend but was far from cumbersome was the Shels No 1 this year.

12 clean sheets to her name over the course of the 27 game period she had a big influence over The Reds’ achievements in 2021 along with the essential cover of her robust backline of Pearl Slattery and youngster Jessie Stapleton.

Likewise Waves’ Eve Badana and Ciamh Gray of Youths put up steady sets throughout the crusade, while the alternating Peas duo of Naoisha McAloon and Niamh Reid Burke brought up the rear of the race.

The quality of netminder to phenomenal standard across the board, the future is bright for the GK union in the WNL.

Top goalscorer

The opposite end of the pitch also saw some usual suspects and trailblazers emerge.

Aine O’Gorman pipped fellow legend Kylie Murphy to the award by just one strike, with last year’s young player of the year Ellen Molloy accumulated the equivalent amount of nets to now Birmingham City striker Eleanor Ryan Doyle, testifying to just how remarkable the contest was.

Notably overall winners Shels only had one entrant in the top five (being Saoirse Noonan), indicating while the Cork woman was the tallysman for them, their escapades were conspicuously a team effort.

International call ups galore

15 different players across six different squads throughout the league received call ups to the provisional WNT this year, with astounding outcomes too.

Galway WFC’s Savannah McCarthy for instance made the Girls In Green cut following her standout August WNL form, and is now a staple in Vera Pauw’s unit.

Forwarding and honing their own abilities there they also better the domestic competition in the process when they go back to their week in week out groups, raising the bar universally for Irish women’s football.

  • Niamh Reid-Burke (Peamount United) 
  • Claire Walsh (Peamount United),
  • Éabha O’Mahony (Cork City),
  • Áine O’Gorman (Peamount United) 
  • Emily Whelan (Shelbourne)*
  • Jamie Finn (Shelbourne)*
  • Ellen Molloy (Wexford Youths),
  • Jessica Ziu (Shelbourne),
  • Saoirse Noonan (Shelbourne),
  • Stephanie Roche (Peamount United)
  • Eve Badana (DLR Waves)
  • Ciara Grant (Shelbourne)
  • Savannah McCarthy (Galway WFC)
  • Amanda Budden (Shelbourne)
  • Aoibheann Clancy (Wexford Youths)

*Now with Birmingham City in the WSL

More audiences and eyes than ever before

Watch LOI and LOITV made the WNL the most accessible it’s ever been this season, capturing a whole new scope of audience and enthusiasts, with Tg4 going a step further to broadcast on national TV.

Attendances at venues also saw all-time highs, the league record broken at Cork City’s home fixture Vs Treaty United at Turner’s Cross.

The influx of supporters off the pitch has done wonders for the growth and excitement around the game as a whole and is only projected to continue on the up and up next year.

What to look forward to

It’s not over just yet either! With the FAI Cup final to come on Sunday and the Player, Young Player, Team, Manager and Goalkeeper Of The Season to be announced come the start of next month there is still some action and celebrations to come.

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Alanna Cunnane

Alanna is a Journalism student in Dublin City University and is passionate about all sport - in particular Ladies Football and Soccer! Alanna has made contributions to Ocean FM, the Final Whistle, the Sligo Champion and the Connacht Telegraph! She even has hosts her own podcast called 'Are You Still Listening?'
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