This past week, Shelbourne Ladies’ captain and DCU student Caolán Carroll spoke to The College View about the growth of women’s football in Ireland and abroad, the varying fortunes of Shels in the women’s game and the club’s plans for next season.
“Women’s soccer has definitely been on the rise in Ireland, in the past number of years in particular,” said Carroll. “The amount of underage teams coming through the ranks is scary, and the improvement in the development of the youth sections across the country has played a vital role in this.
“When I was younger, things were just really getting started, and there weren’t academies to the level of which you would see now. At Shelbourne LFC we have girls as young as 6 or 7 in the academy, training weekly.
“At the moment a number of our girls are currently in Turkey representing Ireland at U17s level and have just successfully won three games out of three and qualified for the elite stages of the competition. That is absolutely massive. Social media also has a massive presence now too, with clubs having their own Facebook and twitter pages it’s almost impossible to avoid all of the attention surrounding it. The facilities are now in place for women’s football to take some of the spotlight.”
Women’s football as exploded to the forefront of mainstream media attention recently, and Shelbourne has played a huge part in that. Last weekend, the clubs ‘A’ and ‘B’ teams faced each other in the semi-final of the Women’s FAI Cup.
Carroll said: “It was an excellent night for the club to showcase our new set up. This year saw Raheny Utd Women’s team merge with ourselves at Shelbourne, which has been brilliant to date.
“It was a strange situation to meet our team mates in the semi-final and play against our own crest, but there were no friends on that pitch for the 90 minutes.” she added.
Unfortunately, Caolán missed the semi-final due to an injury she picked up in The Reds’ recent All-Ireland Final, but she feels her team mates are more than capable of coping with her absence.
“It was unfortunate that I damaged my ankle ligaments playing the final of the All Ireland in early October, and there was a few others ruled out of the WFAI Semi Final through injury too… However, I wouldn’t say mine or anyone else’s absence would have made a significant impact to the result, as it is a full team performance on the day and the girls are more than capable of pulling the wanted result when it’s asked of them.”
The Shelbourne captain feels that the level of attention paid to women’s football, and football in general, in DCU has improved in recent years but there is still some work to do.
“I do feel that there could be more effort and resources put into soccer in DCU. In saying that, the women’s side recorded a 6-0 defeat recently against GMIT in Galway which is an excellent start to their season.
“(They) are being coached by Noelle Murray, who actually plays for Shelbourne’s National League side, and is a very experienced player herself.
“When I hear DCU mentioned in a sporting manner, I automatically think of GAA, as lot is put into GAA in DCU. It could also be argued that maybe those attending DCU just don’t have an interest in soccer, which is fine too. I do believe more could be done within the college for the sport though.”
Shelbourne will be hoping Caolán can make a swift recovery and return to the squad before the end of the season, and the DCU student will be hoping to make a push for a place in the club’s National League side in the near future.
Picture credit: Sportsfile