Two weeks ago Peamount United were crowned champions of the inaugural Bus Éireann Women’s National League when they recorded a 1-0 win over Shamrock Rovers in Greenogue. This Sunday they will be looking to make it a domestic double when they again take on Shamrock Rovers – this time in the League Cup Final in Tallaght.
Extratime.ie caught up with Peamount goalkeeper Linda Meehan to check how they’re preparation was going, and she says they can take these big games in their stride.
“It’s going to be good,” she said. “We always enjoy cup finals. It’s a good experience for the younger players to enjoy and will obviously be good for the senior players – it would be nice to win a trophy and wrap up the season on a high.”
It hasn’t perhaps been the best preparation for a cup final for the Peas, as they have had to put their League title champagne on ice, as well as having the end of season award ceremony last Tuesday.
“It was a bit all over the place," Meehan said. “We were kind of surprised that we would have a League Cup final at the end.
“You would have assumed it would be a couple of weeks before the League final. It’s all new. It’s a new season, so there’s going to be things that might need to be changed so everyone’s learning.
“It was a bit mad having an awards ceremony before the end of the season, but it was good craic and we enjoyed it.”
Despite the distractions, Meehan says that the Peas have remained focused with nobody wanting to miss training and a chance to play in a cup final.
“I stood back and made the comment that I’ve never seen so many players at training as we had last night. Usually you have a couple of people injured or sick or exams, but we had absolutely everybody up last night so, which is always good to see.”
Going into this game, Peamount have almost a full squad to choose from, with only Grace Murray (Player of the Match from their title winning victory over Shamrock Rovers) the only absentee. The marauding left-back has joined the likes of Darius Vassell, Dave Beasant and Sergio Aguero in suffering a freak injury off the football field.
Meehan explained: “She banged the back of her head and is out for four to six weeks. She kind of cracked the back of her head, she was leaning over to pick up a pair of shoes from underneath the stairs, and then jumped back up and whallopped the back of it underneath of the stairs.
“She had to go for a scan and everything, to make sure everything was still there.”
Despite losing such a key player, Meehan was more than confident that the strength and depth in their squad would compensate for the absence.
“Like every starting player, losing one of them obviously is a big loss, but luckily this season we’ve had like-for-like players come in so you’d presume the likes of Chloe Mustaki will just come in and slot in there at left-back and take Grace’s position.”
Looking back at that hard fought game which ultimately saw Peamount crowned champions with a 1-0 win, Meehan is expecting an even tougher ride from Shamrock Rovers when the local rivals renew acquaintances this weekend.
“Ya it will be and they’ll have a couple of players missing that will be back – Noelle Murray was banned for the last game because of a red card, but I think she’s back, and she’s huge for them.
“Also, Hannah Tyrrell wasn’t playing. That’s a couple of strikers that are going to be very dangerous and a couple of players that we’re going to be watching.
“We have the advantage coming into it that it’s the tail end of the season so we’ve played each other three times.
“We like to think that we know how each other plays so it’s going to be a good game and that’s great for the league, and great for any neutrals who hopefully come up and watch it.”
Indeed, both sides do know each other very well, with Rovers players like Rachael Jenkins and Nicola Sinnott having previously played for Peamount – something which adds some extra spice to this cup final, but Meehan assured us that this is a friendly rivalry.
“They were at the awards, and there was all hugs and we’re all still friends. There’s no animosity.
“I think that’s the good thing about the National League. You look at all the squads and you’ve got players who played on the same teams; college teams, school teams, even the same clubs over the last couple of years. Players move around, that’s just the way it is.”
Shamrock Rovers will be in the unusual position of having home advantage for a cup final this Sunday, but the Peamount goalkeeper doesn’t think that this will prove a deciding factor.
“It’s a nice pitch and it’s a nice stadium,” Meehan said, “and technically it’s not a Shamrock Rover’s home game, so we’re not going to get too tied up with it. We’re just going to go and enjoy it and at least it’s a pitch that we’re used to, we’ve played on it before.”
The Women’s National League Cup Final will take place this Sunday at 2pm in Tallaght Stadium. Admission to the game is FREE. Extratime.ie will be there with live updates and post-match reaction.
Brian Fitzgerald is a Dublin-based reporter who has followed Cork City since the mid 1990's. Brian can be contacted at firstname.lastname@example.org or followed on twitter @B_Twitzgerald