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The Women’s National League

 

If you’re enjoying the FIFA Women’s World Cup – which has entered the knockout stages – and aren’t a regular at our own Women’s National League, then perhaps you would consider attending some of these games in the future.

Ireland just missed out on qualification for France, finishing third in a group that contained Norway and Holland, and a good few of the Ireland squad can be seen playing in the domestic league.

Matchday 12 this weekend saw the top of the table remain unchanged, with Peamount United, Wexford Youths WFC and Shelbourne Ladies all recording big wins [9-0, 7-0 and 3-0 respectively, over Kilkenny United WFC, Limerick WFC and Galway WFC] to stay well out in front. The WNL season now enters its three-week mid-season break.

These results reflect a high-scoring league, where the big margins mean games are won or lost but rarely drawn, and indeed only two games have been drawn this season [Shelbourne were involved in both; one was against Wexford Youths and the other against Galway WFC]. With 118 goals in 45 games so far this term, that’s a healthy goals-per-game ratio of 2.6. Last season saw Rianna Jarrett of Wexford Youths and Amber Barrett of Peamount United score 27 and 21 respectively, impressive numbers.

The ‘Big Three’ of Peamount, Wexford and Shels have led the way in recent years, especially since the League adopted a summer format in 2017 similar to the Men’s League of Ireland – Wexford Youths were crowned champions in 2017 and 2018, with Peamount United unbeaten this term and determined to hang on for their first title since 2011/12.

Back in those days Stephanie Roche was lining out for Peamount and her wonder-goal in October 2013 [against Wexford Youths] went viral on the internet and gave the WNL international exposure, as well as earning Roche a nomination for the 2014 FIFA Puskas Award, alongside James Rodriguez and Robin van Persie.

Winning the WNL, which currently has eight teams [teams play each other three times across 21 matchdays], ensures entry into the UEFA Women’s Champions League qualifying round. In the week where our men’s representatives in Europe learned who their opponents were, Wexford Youths WFC learned who they will play in their qualifying round games in August – they will face Gintra of Lithuania, Vllaznia of Albania and Birkirkara of Malta for a chance to progress to the knock-out rounds.

Brian Quigley

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