The Mid-Western U-14s girls’ soccer team braved the blustery conditions at Shiven Rovers Football Club last Saturday evening as their preparations intensified ahead of their opening Gaynor Cup match against Dublin Metropolitan in Limerick next week.
Under the watchful eye of manager Eamon Boyle and his backroom team of Evan Davis, Gabriel Martin and Mary O’Donnell, the squad which includes players from eight clubs across Roscommon, Galway and surrounding counties was put through its paces.
The Gaynor Cup is a prestigious annual event and features teams from across Ireland. This year Mid-Western will come up against Dublin Metro and Longford as they look to secure safe passage from their group of three. The top team in each group will continue on in the cup while second and third place will earn shield and plate berths respectively.
Manager Eamon Boyle was in confident mood.
“They’re a great bunch of girls to be honest. We went with a good team last year but we had a very young team too. Ten of the girls from last year will be part of this year’s squad so with the experience of last year’s Gaynor Cup and the extra year of maturity I think we have a right good panel this year,” he said.
Women’s soccer is one of the fastest growing sports in the world and that trend appears to be echoed in this part of Ireland. The Mid-Western League came into being in 2015 in the hope of expanding the game beyond Roscommon and Galway. It has proven to be a shrewd move and Eamon believes the standard is improving all the time.
“The standard is very good. Some of the clubs (Mid-Western League) have won Connacht titles. I’d prefer if more clubs pushed forward girls teams, as it stands there are eight teams in the league,” he said.
Eamon paid tribute to the hard work of his fellow coaches and the support of Shiven Rovers and the other clubs in the league.
Gaynor Cup appearances cost money however, and Eamon said next week’s trip wouldn’t have been possible without the hard work of those involved with the team and indeed the generous support of the community.
“It took a bit of organising, we did a great fundraiser with signed jerseys and all the girls came back with lines sold. There were table quizzes and bag packs too and any time you asked you’d have girls and parents there to help you out,” he said.
Sponsors like Geraghty Travel have also been a huge help with both football kits and travel arrangements for events such as next week’s competition.
Having finished 12th out of 26th last year, Eamon believes this year’s panel are capable of competing with anyone in Limerick. When I put it to him that the opening fixture against Dublin Metropolitan would be a tough test, the Mid Western manager agreed.
“A tough start! It’s a tough start for the Dubs, yeah!”