Women’s Football: Waves quick to sign up strong line-up

by Stephen Findlater

DLR Waves have moved quickly ahead of the 2020 Women’s National League season by retaining a number of key performers from last year’s transitional season.

Captain Catherine Cronin and former Irish international goalkeeper Eve Badana, a summer recruit from Cork City, have put pen to paper on new deals.

Defender Oleta Griffin is the first new signing following a successful breakthrough season at Kilkenny United while Niamh Prior and Fiona Donnelly, a summer signing from Shelbourne, also return.

Vice-captain Rachel Doyle has re-signed while Sophie O’Donoghue, Ciara Maher, Kerri Letmon and Nicole Keogh have also committed their immediate future to the Kilternan club.

Winger Cronin, Badana and striker Doyle, who missed much of the 2019 season with injury, will form a key part of the leadership group as Graham Kelly begins his second season in charge.

28-year-old Cronin, who won two league titles, two FAI Cups and competed in the Champions League with Raheny United, returns for a sixth season in Waves colours.

She initially joined midway through the 2014-15 and was part of the side that reached the 2017 FAI Cup final under Noel Kealy, narrowly losing out to Cork City at the Aviva Stadium.

Canadian-born stopper Badana was an unused substitute for City that day and she joined Waves midway through the 2019 season after relocating to Dublin for work reasons.

The 26-year-old managed only four appearances due to outside commitments but will hope to be a more regular presence between the sticks in 2020.

Badana has three senior caps for Ireland, having initially been capped in a 2012 Algarve Cup game against Hungary while studying at Drexel University in Philadelphia.

23-year-old Doyle joined Waves midway through the 2018 season from Peamount United and she was a big loss as she sat out six months of the most recent campaign with injury.

Versatile defender Griffin was part of Shelbourne’s inaugural under-17 national league-winning team in 2018 and progressed to the first team at Tolka Park before moving to Kilkenny last summer.

Following Kilkenny’s removal from the league for the coming campaign, Kelly wasted little time in tempting her to South Dublin.

17-year-old Keogh was another to make the step up to senior football in 2019, her ability at full-bac and wing-back making her indispensable in the latter half of the season.

Full-back Prior, a senior international, and midfielder Donnelly were key members of Shelbourne’s treble-winning side in 2016.

O’Donoghue is one of the longest-serving players at Waves, having broken through in 2017, while Maher returns to the centre of the park after missing the second half of last season with work.

The squad have begun pre-season training ahead of the new season, which is due to start in March.

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