Gleeson coaxed to stay in football with DLR Waves

by Dave Donnelly

At the end of 2020, former Republic of Ireland international Jess Gleeson was on the verge of quitting football.

The defender had grown disillusioned with the game after struggling to get consistent game-time in a fiercely competitive Shelbourne side.

Shels pushed eventual title-winners Peamount United all the way to the last game but, after three years with the Drumcondra club, she decided a new challenge was due.

The beneficiary was initially to be the GAA – Gleeson played intercounty football as a teenager – but a quick call from Graham Kelly changed her course.

The DLR Waves boss had been on the lookout for some top-end quality after two years of building a young squad on top of an experienced core in south Dublin.

In a versatile centre-half who has won everything domestically with Wexford Youths, and competed in the championship, he saw the perfect fit.

“Towards the end of last seeing I was hmming and hawing whether I was going to keep going with soccer,” she tells the Dublin Gazette.

“I was thinking about maybe going back playing GAA for a little while. I didn’t have a great season last season and I kind of wanted to change it up.

“Graham gave me a call and we had a good chat, and what he was saying really interested me. Since I came in, it’s been nothing but brilliant. I’ve loved it. It’s going to be a great adventure.”

Gleeson played her final game for the Reds against Peamount in Greenogue, where they were on course to seal the title only for Peas to score three late goals.

Her mind was already made up to move on, however, although it looked set to be the blue of the Déise that was to benefit until Kelly’s late intervention.

“It was so competitive [at Shels] that it was me that got left out. I’m not bitter about it at all – I loved my time at Shelbourne and I love the girls, and everyone did so well.

“Now it’s another challenge to try and prove my way into this team and see if I can get a run of games under my belt.

“The past couple of years, you can see the development that DLR have made. They brought in some really good players over the past couple of years and they’re really building.

“They’re really strong now, really pushing, so who’s to say we can’t push on this season and get up the table and challenge. Why not?”

Gleeson comes from a huge GAA family in Waterford City – her brother Austin is an intercounty hurler – but the lure of international football saw her specialise in the beautiful game.

“I played since I could walk. My grandad is very into soccer and he got me into it. I come from a very sporting family.

“I played soccer and GAA growing up and it came to a point, when I was 15 or 16, where I had to make a decision whether to stick with GAA or go with the soccer.

“I was playing international with the soccer so I took it on I was going to go on with soccer and leave the GAA behind. I had to make a decision and soccer was the one that came top.”

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