Peamount United star Julie-Ann Russell last week received the honour of being named the Bus Eireann Women’s National League Player of the Year at an awards presentation that took place at the Aviva Stadium.
It has been a bittersweet year for the Republic of Ireland winger, who played a considerable part in Peamount’s tilt at the league title this year. Unfortunately for Russell and her teammates, however, their late season routs of Cork Women that brought their goal difference ahead of their nearest rivals Raheny United was not enough to overturn the sides’ head to head record and Raheny went on to claim the Women’s National League title by three points ahead of the Peas.
The Galway-born player, whose playing career has seen her play for Los Angeles Strikers in the American W-League and Doncaster Rovers Belles, settled at Peamount on her return to Ireland, and has been integral for the Greenogue side and for Sue Ronan’s national team.
Speaking after the awards ceremony, Russell said: “It’s a great honour to win this award. The players who were nominated were all top class so to be chosen as the Player of the Year is a great personal achievement.
“Ultimately, it’s nice to be recognised as an individual but as a team we missed out on the title so we’re still disappointed about that.
“The league was another close one this year. It was brilliant, and we gave great performances. The standard has gotten even higher again, but it was sickening to miss out for the second year.”
“From the first year to now, the standard of players and the performances have been better, and that has led to more girls getting chances in the national team.”
Ireland will face Russia as GazetteSport goes to press, but speaking ahead of the match, Russell was clear about what the team have to do, and are taking inspiration from their fine performance against Germany, which they narrowly lost 3-2.
“The game against Russia is a massive game. It was heartbreaking against Germany, but we have our heads back up and we’re hoping to get a good result.
“I think everyone was shocked throughout women’s football [by Ireland’s performance against Germany, the European champions only snatching the winner in the final minute], it was an unbelievable game to be a part of, and so close. Hopefully, we can capitalise on the performance and experience and bring it into the game against Russia.
At the awards, Russell’s Peamount Unites teammate Stephanie Roche was awarded the National League top scorer award, Raheny United forward Katie McCabe was named as the Bus Eireann Women’s National League Young Player of the Year, and the inaugural Bus Eireann Women’s National League Hall of Fame recipient was DLR Waves midfielder Sylvia Gee.