Lucy McCartan had more than one reason to celebrate at the weekend as, hours after helping Peamount United to a 4-1 win over Shelbourne, she picked up the prestigious Under-19 player of the year award at the FAI Awards.
McCartan shared a stage with the likes of Shane Duffy, Harriet Scott and Hall of Famer Damien Duff at the ceremony at RTE Studios on Sunday night.
McCartan beat out competition from her Under-19 international teammates Niamh Farrelly – who also plays for Peamount – and Alex Kavanagh of Shelbourne to pick up the gong.
She was part of the Ireland Under-19s side that narrowly missed out on qualification for the European Championships, scoring in a win over Ukraine.
19-year-old McCartan also tasted bitter disappointment last year as the Peas missed out on the Women’s National League title to Wexford Youths on the final day.
And she was part of the Westmeath gaelic football side that lost out in the Leinster Championship final to eventual all-Ireland winners Dublin.
Amid all the disappointment, it’s been a very positive year for the first-year medical student at UCD, who has established herself as one of the country’s best young sportswomen.
“It was a bit surreal – I didn’t really believe it was happening,” McCartan told the Dublin Gazette of the moment she heard her name read out.
Of the ceremony, she added: “It really was [inspirational]. It’s nice to hear people like Seamus Coleman and Megan Campbell talking.
“They really know what they’re talking about and have so much experience.
“It was great to hear their perspectives on the game and how they’re feeling with all the injuries they’ve had.”
The Peas were first place going into the final game of the Women’s National League season, where they faced second-place Wexford Youths, who won 2-0 at their home ground.
As disappointing as the night was, however, McCartan believes the experience will serve both her and a young Peamount squad well in their development.
“It was just devastating. Wexford are an unbelievable side.
“They’re very experienced and I think that stood to them on the day, but they’re a brilliant side.
“You wouldn’t begrudge them anything, it was just disappointing on the day because we didn’t pull anything out of the bag.
“No one really expected us to do well last year, just because it’s such a young squad, but that’s a good thing for us. There’s no egos in the team – everybody just works for each other.
“It was disappointing to get all the way and then lose it, but it’s a huge development for the club to a few years of not really getting anywhere.”