Saturday’s Cup match kicks off at 5.30 pm. Free admission to anyone wearing a Rovers, Kiullester or Ireland jersey!
Going back to the All-Island competition, Rovers didn’t qualify from the group but finished off with a 3-2 win at Glentoran with goals from young Shannon Coady (2) and Melissa O’Kane, her first for the club. So did the tournament serve its purpose and end on an impressive note?
It was good because we used the cup to look at different squad players, different styles of play and systems. For what we wanted to get out of it, it was a very worthwhile exercise. We got some good education and some extra, good work done with the players, and tried different systems that we can use going forward.
The players returned from the mid-season break a couple of weeks ago and got a friendly in as well, against DLR Waves. Are the squad in shape and raring to go?
Yeah, they’re all raring to go. We even played an internal game against one of the boys’ teams during the week, to make sure that our match sharpness is fully up. So they’re all absolutely raring to go, to get back on the pitch, particularly in Tallaght.
It was good to see photos of Maria Reynolds back in training at Roadstone. She had targeted this Cup game on her road to recovery. Will she play a part?
Maria is probably about one week behind. She needs a full week of training. She hasn’t completed that yet but we still have another training session to go and we’ll assess it. She’s really close and it’s hard to explain all the hard work that she’s put in. It’s been mentally tough on her, being out such a long time, so to have her back on the training pitch, in and around the squad and getting really close to being part of the team is really nice to have. For the first time this season, I have a fully fit squad to pick from.
You’ve also strengthened the squad with the summer signings of Joy Ralph and Scarlett Herron. What will they bring to us?
They’ll bring an extra dynamic that we probably didn’t really have much of. Joy is an exciting forward who can play up top or wide on the right. She’s a real, young exciting talent that has a real eye for goal. Her directness and pace are going to terrify some defences. As for Scarlett, she’s one of those who plays with her heart on her sleeve all the time. There’s pure determination and grittiness to her play in the middle of the park. She can go box to box and we’ve already noticed it in a lot of our training sessions, when we have the GPS settings on them, she’s nearly always one of the highest total kilometres. She has a lot of energy and does an awful lot of running.
Rovers begin our FAI Cup campaign against Killester Donnycarney. What do we know about Killester and the kind of team they are?
They’re managed by a really good guy in Thomas Heary, a former League of Ireland player with Bohs. I’ve seen them in a couple of games and it must come from him because they’re very well organised. I know everybody will say they’re non-league and it should be an easy game for us, but it’s not really because they’re really well-organised. They’re very hard to break down, with compact banks and then they’re very quick on the counterattack. For us, we won’t just have to play to our best, we’re going to have to make sure to play our normal, quick tempo if we’re going to get through this round.
Will Laura Chambers, sister of former Hoops midfielder James be one to watch?
When I was a coach at Shelbourne I had James as one of the players and he’s a really good guy. Laura is one of those, if there are any free kicks or deadball situations in or around the box, she has the quality to be able to deliver on it. Not only her but they also have a good attacking threat in Simone Phoenix. She’s been scoring quite a bit recently. Even when we are in possession of the ball, the threat and pace that they have up top can hurt us on the counterattacks.
Do you view the Cup as important as the league, as a chance for major silverware in our first season back?
Absolutely. It’s a great opportunity to get silverware this year. It’s one that we really need to look towards getting rewards for all the work that we’ve put in, so it’s a competition that we’re targeting to not just get through this round obviously, but to go all the way and do our best to win it.
Áine O’Gorman announced her retirement from international football yesterday while Abbie Larkin, the youngest player in Australia is at a different stage of her career. Was everyone at the club really proud of Áine and Abbie’s involvement in Ireland’s World Cup campaign?
Extremely proud of what they’ve done, not just for Shamrock Rovers but what they’ve done as a whole for all of women’s football and the role models that they’ve become. They’ve handled themselves really well, both on and off the pitch. As for Áine on her international retirement, she’s been an absolute top pro and it’s one of the reasons she is captain of this club. She leads by example on and off the pitch. The influence that she has, it’s very hard to put into words. If there’s ever a club captain you could pick, it’d always be Áine O’Gorman.
It’ll be a homecoming of sorts for the two girls so hopefully that, plus the initiative with the free admission for anyone wearing a Rovers, Killester or Ireland jersey will give the crowd a boost in Tallaght on Saturday?
We hope so because we’ve always fed off the crowd. Any time there’s been a real good atmosphere it gives us a real lift. We’ve had a good start to the season, we’ve had some good crowds and set a new league record so hopefully that trend can continue even though the Women’s World Cup is over. It’s time to really grow the brand.