EXPECTATIONS are sky- high at Peamount United as the Women’s National League champions have made some eye-catching signings in the off season.
Ireland international Stephanie Roche and Tiegan Ruddy have made their return to Greenogue while Sadbh Doyle and Alannah McEvoy have arrived from Galway and Shelbourne respectively.
Sara McKevitt had also returned to the club after spending the first half of last season as the Peas look to build on a season when they clinched their first league title in seven years.
Narrowly missing out on the double, losing 3-2 to Wexford Youths in the final, has done little to dampen the buzz.
For manager James O’Callaghan, who saw Aine O’Gorman make her return from international retirement in last week’s 1-0 win over Greece, says his squad’s feet are planted firmly on the ground.
“Pre-season has gone well – the girls are working really hard,” O’Callaghan told Dublin Gazette.
“I suppose the only negative is the weather – we’ve had to call off one or two matches because of the weather.
“Apart from that, the girls are all highly-motivated and they’re working really hard.
“We’re just looking forward to our first league match away to Cork, so all our focus is on that and winning our first game.
“Then it’s taking each game as it comes and hopefully we’re in the mix come the end of the season.”
While Roche and captain O’Gorman bring bags of experience to the set-up, the age profile of the squad is still predominantly young.
Under-17 captain Della Doherty and Becky Watkins are dual-registered for the season while Ruddy, who will sit out the first half of the season as she rehabs a cruciate injury, is still only 19.
The influence of those more experienced players, as well as stalwarts like defenders Louise Corrigan and Chloe Moloney, will be key in integrating the younger players.
“A lot of our players are young, in their late teens, as well and we’ve mixed it in with a lot of experience in the team now.
“You’d like to think there’s a lot of competition and there’ll be a lot of players fighting to get their places in the team, and that’s only a good thing.”
Looking ahead to the new season, O’Callaghan insists the Peas are taking it one game at a time but, in spite of the calendar being cut from 21 to 16 games, the quality is better than ever.
“I think the Women’s National League is a very good standard.
“It’s improving all the time. I know it’s amateur at the moment.
“I’d like to think, down the road, it could even get up to semi-professional standard.
“Players coming back into the league, the likes of Steph, can only help that process.”