Friday 27 January 2023 Dublin: 4°C
Brian Reilly-Troy/INPHO Áine O'Gorman celebrates scoring for Peamount last season.
# Interview
'It is disappointing that we're still not going semi-pro but we have made significant steps'
Republic of Ireland international and Peamount United star Áine O’Gorman assesses all things WNL, on and off the pitch.

ÁINE O’GORMAN HAS played the overwhelming majority of her career in the Women’s National League [WNL], so she’s well-versed in every facet of the Irish top-flight.

It’s been a journey of highs and lows, and ups and downs, both on and off the pitch, but O’Gorman has played a central role in the Peamount United success story.

The south Dublin side has dined at the top table time and time again over the past few years, though had the rug pulled from under them on the final day of the 2021 season.

The champions elect had encountered speed bumps down the home straight, but a monumental three in-a-row was still in their sights. 2-0 up on home soil against Galway, they had one hand on the trophy. But the Tribe produced the turnaround of all turnarounds and the shock of all shocks, and for Peamount it was nothing but a gut-wrenching capitulation as they fell to a 5-2 defeat.

Across the city at Tolka Park, Shelbourne finished up 3-2 winners over Wexford Youths, and the two results combined made the Reds champions for the first time since 2016.

There’s no doubt it was a long, hard winter for Peas, but James O’Callaghan’s side have roared out of the blocks with three wins from three as the new season kicks into gear. They’ve scored 14 goals and conceded just one, totting up convincing wins over newcomers Sligo, Treaty United and – yes, Galway.

The 2021 disappointment has certainly reignited the hunger.

“I think it really motivates us this year and there’s a lot to learn from the nature in the way we lost the league last year,” O’Gorman tells The42, with a mouth-watering clash against DLR Waves up next today.

“As disappointing as it was, it’s kind of the only positive we can take out of it.

“Look, we’ve started well, but there’s still a long, long way to go and it’s only early days yet. We’re looking forward to the upcoming games.”

A 4-0 Series Two win over the Galway at Eamonn Deacy Park was surely a highlight, but the Republic of Ireland centurion plays it down as simply “a great result and a great three points”.

“It kind of just puts last season to bed and then we can move forward and look to this season,” she adds. “Got ourselves off to a positive start and hit the ground running. Like I said, we have to keep building that momentum.”

There’s no doubt they will, with an enviable squad assembled. There’s the established names like O’Gorman, Stephanie Roche, Karen Duggan and Niamh Reid Burke, a group of younger players with no shortage of experience, and then the incredibly talented young blood.

“We obviously lost Niamh Farrelly and Claire Walsh last season, Eleanor Ryan Doyle, all big blows to the team but the talent coming through is phenomenal,” O’Gorman nods as she lists off some of the bright new crop.

Tara O’Hanlon, Erin McLaughlin, Scarlett Heron, Eve Kelly, Michelle Doonan and Summer Lawless all get a mention, as does new signing Jetta Berrill.

“There’s an abundance of talent and they’re trying to balance playing U19s with the senior team as well. The future’s certainly bright at Peamount, and that’s something that’s always been there. A good platform of younger players coming through and developing young talent.”

While other clubs in the WNL are under the same banner as LOI outfits – take Shels as a prime example – Peamount have remained a standalone club.

There were whispers about a potential merger with Shamrock Rovers, but as reported by The Irish Examiner, that appears to be dead in the water.

“I think Peamount is able to stand on its own two feet, and they’ve put a lot of work in throughout the years and built itself up to where it is now,” O’Gorman nods.

“It’s a different situation… when you play in Peamount, the women’s team is the top of the tier, they get first preference to everything, where I don’t know if that’s the situation in other clubs.

“At the same time then, that’s a really big positive, and then you look at if you join with a professional men’s team or another set-up, is there other positives as well, with regards committee structures and skill sets and people employed full-time. Our clubs, they do a great job, but it’s purely ran by volunteers. You have to look at that.

“I don’t know what the right answer is, but you have to get the balance right. And at the moment, Peamount’s been largely successful, and they can take all the credit for that success, too.”

aine-ogorman Dan Sheridan / INPHO O'Gorman at the Aviva Soccer Sisters Easter Camps Launch last week, Dan Sheridan / INPHO / INPHO

O’Gorman has spoken quite a lot about off-field matters at club level, and the league in general over the past few years.

She’s made no secret of the fact that she thinks the WNL should be at least semi-professional, but has also hailed the recent string of improvements and positive developments made across the board.

She’s keen to get that across as she assesses the current landscape, but knows there’s still a long way to go.

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“It’s gone from strength to strength this season: the profile of the league, the backing of the league, SSE Airtricity coming on board and then obviously the games broadcast on TG4, and parity across the social media platforms has been been a big step as well.

“I always come back to us as players; we have to continue to keep making sure that our standard’s good and our playing style is good to attract crowds and attract people in to watch the game as well. Clubs aren’t really anything without a supporter.

“Look, it’s been really positive. Like I say, it is disappointing that we’re still not in that position where we are going semi-professional and looking to go professional but we have made significant steps.

“Hopefully, in time, that will change and we will be able to offer a full-time environment for players in Ireland.”

O’Gorman hammers home the point that currently, they are all “in amateur clubs but all have professional attitudes” — and she’s a shining example of that herself.

Formerly a gym instructor at the Glenview Hotel, she’s recently started a new role as a resource worker at Youthreach in Sallynoggin where she’s enjoying delivering food and nutrition, and football modules.

That brings it all together, as she juggles numerous balls between work, top-level football for club and for country, and much more. 

“Ah I love it, ya can’t get away from it,” she laughs.

Indeed, you can’t. And Áine O’Gorman certainly wouldn’t have it any other way.

Today’s WNL Series 4 fixtures

All KO 2pm and live on LOI TV

  • Athlone Town v Galway WFC, Athlone Town Stadium
  • Peamount United v DLR Waves, PRL Park
  • Shelbourne v Cork City, Tolka Park
  • Sligo Rovers v Bohemians, The Showgrounds
  • Wexford Youths v Treaty United, Ferrycarrig Park.

A new episode of The Front Row, in partnership with Guinness, is out now. After Ireland’s Triple Crown win, Murray Kinsella gives us the rundown on his team of the tournament. Ireland international Sene Naoupu also joins the panel to chat about her career and look ahead to the start of the Women’s Six Nations. Click here to subscribe or listen below:

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