A NEW era is set to begin at St Pat’s CY as they prepare to enter a women’s team for the first time in the newly-founded Eastern Women’s Football League in 2020.
The new venture has been a long time in the planning but has recently taken shape with the appointment of Republic of Ireland legend Olivia O’Toole as senior manager.
The Ringsend club will compete in the EWFL following the merger of the two major Dublin leagues, the Metropolitan Girls League (MGL) and the Dublin Women’s Soccer League (DWSL).
O’Toole, who appeared a record 130 times and whose 54 goals for her country was equalled by Robbie Keane in 2016, was headhunted to usher in the new chapter in Pat’s CY history.
Shelbourne captain Pearl Slattery was an early champion of the new club, but it was a chance interaction with club secretary Dave Nolan that kicked off the relationship.
“I didn’t know Dave – I just liked his Twitter page,” O’Toole tells the Dublin Gazette. “He said St Patrick’s CY are looking to set up a women’s team on Twitter and I liked it. I got a message off him about ten minutes later saying ‘Olivia, is there any chance I can speak to you?’
“I wasn’t doing anything, I was idle, and I wanted to get back into it. We had a chat and I liked what he said and I liked what they were trying to do.
“There are girls coming to Dave and saying ‘why isn’t there a girls’ team?’ And he said they haven’t thought of this overnight – they’ve been thinking about it for over a year and a half.
“I feel good about about it because they’ve a structure where if you’ve girls leaving, you have girls coming up. So, for me, it’s a process that’s going to go on for a good few years.”
O’Toole has earned her UEFA youth coaching badge but, due to the €3,000-plus cost, has yet to fulfil her ambition to pursue a full B license, however that may change if the Pat’s gig goes to plan.
She was involved with North Wall in the inner city following her retirement from playing and, for the past number of years, has coached St Catherine’s Under-18s in the Liberties. That role petered out as she became disillusioned by the lack of commitment as players grew older, but she feels the new league may offer a more attractive option to keep players in the game.
“I managed St Catherine’s girls under-18s for four years and they start smelling themselves and not turning up for training, not turning up for matches, and that broke down.
“I haven’t done anything since because I got a bit fed up with it. I really want to make this work with St Pat’s.
“The feedback I’m getting from girls that have been out of football for a year or so is that they want to get back into it.
“In the inner city, there’s no team.”