Shels step up for parity of esteem in their club

by Dave Donnelly
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Shelbourne’s Women’s National League team will be known simply as Shelbourne as the club seeks to underline the parity of esteem between men’s and women’s teams.

The word ‘Ladies’ will be dropped from the club’s name in line with similar efforts made by clubs across Europe.

Derry City, whose women’s team competes in the Premiership in Northern Ireland, recently announced they would drop the ‘Ladies’ portion from their name.

Both senior sides will play their home games in Tolka Park from this season after the women’s side operated from the AUL Complex in Clonshaugh last year.

Season tickets will now be valid for both League of Ireland and Women’s National League games, while all boys and girls in the club’s underage system will be offered free season tickets.

The club’s kit deal with Umbro and sponsorship arrangement with DCU will be included on both Women’s National League and League of Ireland kits.

The club’s social media channels – until now separated into men’s and women’s streams – will be integrated with senior and underage teams represented under the one banner.

As widely rumoured, the club have announced Dave Bell as manager in place of Mark Leavy, who remains heavily involved behind the scenes at Tolka Park.

Bell was previously manager of the Republic of Ireland Under-17s, and led them to the European Championships in 2017 before being succeeded by senior international manager Colin Bell.

He has been in situ throughout pre-season and watched his side romp to a 10-1 victory over Kilkenny United on the opening day of the season, with Ireland international Jessica Ziu hitting a hat-trick.

Alex Kavanagh and new signing Jessica Gargan both scored braces, while Alannah McEvoy, Emily Whelan and Rebecca Creagh were also on target in Thomastown.

“We have appointed Dave Bell as Manager of our Women’s National League team,” Shelbourne CEO Dave O’Connor said on the club’s official website.

“Dave has previously managed Ireland’s team at the WU17 European Championships in 2017 and is well-respected within football circles.

“We’re confident that Dave is the right person to realise the full potential of our WNL squad, which includes a number of Senior, Under-19 and 17 internationals. Dave will be assisted by Pat Behan.

“We’re also delighted that our Under-17 WNL side will continue to be managed by the successful management duo of Laura Heffernan and Karen O’Connell.

“Having won the inaugural Under-17 National League, Laura and Karen will be looking to repeat that success in 2019.

“Shelbourne FC supports the 20× campaign, an initiative aimed at increasing media coverage of women in sport, female participation at all levels, and attendance at women’s games by 20% by 2020.

“Our WNL team will wear a “20×20” arm patch in support of this initiative for the coming season.”

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