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Dublin: 9 °C Wednesday 20 March, 2019
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Irish centurion's full focus on captaining club as life goes on after international duty

Áine O’Gorman and Peamount United get their 2019 Women’s National League campaign underway this evening.

Peamount captain Áine O'Gorman.
Peamount captain Áine O'Gorman.
Image: Laszlo Geczo/INPHO

ÁINE O’GORMAN MAY have called time on her international football career last September, but it was only over the last week or so that it well and truly sunk in. 

Colin Bell’s side were in Marbella for a camp, with a pair of friendlies against Wales thrown into the mix, and as the Peamount United captain watched from afar, it properly hit her.

After 12 years in the green jersey and 100 caps, the squad had moved on. 

That’s life. It goes in circles.

“This week with the camp, it probably did sink in most when I was watching them,” she tells The42. “It’s still a decision I don’t think I regret. It might be a harder one if they qualify for the European Championships next year!”

The Wicklow attacker slipped away fairly quietly last year, saying that she felt it was time to bring the curtain down on a successful international career while letting the next generation make their mark.

One thing’s for sure though: O’Gorman left an extremely positive legacy behind her. She should be more than proud of what she’s done — and continues to do — for Irish women’s soccer. 

Modest as can be, she might not appreciate the full impact of her contribution right now, but she acknowledges that she most definitely will in time.

Aine O'Gorman and Caroline Graham Hansen O'Gorman's final Ireland appearance was against Norway last June. Source: Ryan Byrne/INPHO

“I think so,” she smiles. “I think it’s something that I’ll probably look back on when I’m older and be more proud of.

“It was a massive honour every time I stepped into the dressing room to put the green jersey on and stepped out on the pitch so yeah, it’s something I’ll look back on when I’m older as a great achievement then.”

She’s been recognised for those outstanding exploits several times since bowing out of the international game, scooping special achievement accolades at both the PFA Ireland Awards in November and the Soccer Writers of Ireland Awards in January.

There’s a lovely picture of her with her parents, Mairead and Jimmy, at the latter event in the early days of the New Year, and the smiles on their faces say it all.

“It was a really nice night,” she says. “It was great to bring them along. Robbie Keane presented me with the award as well so that made it extra special. He’s a legend in his own right.”

While the memories and good times on the international stage are plentiful, the 29-year-old is happy to park them momentarily and continue focusing on her club football with Peamount. 

After years of balancing both club and country commitments — and much more, of course — she’s pleased to have her undivided attention on the South Dublin side.

With the new Women’s National League (WNL) taking flight today, it’s Cork City up first at Greenogue [kick-off 6.30pm].

“I’m really enjoying my club football now,” she beams, “so really looking forward to getting the season kicked off and taking it game by game. 

“It’s a nice way to start with a home game. Last year we meant to start with a home game but I think it was snowing. Hopefully, with the rain it’s not a wash-out and we’ll get off to a good start this weekend.”

Her club career has been a busy one: she started out at Stella Maris between 2005 and 2009 before first joining the Peas for a year. From there, she went across the water to Doncaster Rovers Belles but returned the Peamount on loan for a stint. 

Aine O'Gorman and Keeva Keenan Lining out for UCD Waves in the 2014 WFAI Cup final. Source: Ryan Byrne/INPHO

She signed back from 2012 to 2014, before spending a few years at UCD Waves. But in 2017, O’Gorman committed to Peamount once again and has been loving it there ever since.

As someone who’s spent the majority of their career plying her trade in the WNL, O’Gorman is well versed to air her opinions and experiences.

She’s been there since the league’s inception in 2011, and has seen it change and evolve. There are plenty of differences from then to now, but she feels it’s all been largely positive.

“There’s obviously more teams in the league now. The first year it started, it was a very good standard. There were a lot of very good players, especially out in Peamount. There would have been a lot of good players at the time at Raheny that have obviously moved on now for different reasons.

“Now, there’s an U17 league so it’s great that there’s a bunch of talent coming through. That’s only going to make the league longer in the long term.”

With plenty of budding and fresh, young talent across the length and breadth of the country, O’Gorman tips Niamh Farrelly as one to watch from her own club. 

Niamh Farrelly Niamh Farrelly is O'Gorman's one to watch. Source: Ryan Byrne/INPHO

“She’s a really bright prospect,” she says. “She’s in with the international team as well. She’ll be key for us this season.

“There is good talent spread throughout the country. There’s a lot of good players down in Wexford who probably haven’t really gotten their chance on the international stage.

“That’s probably the case throughout the league so hopefully that brings a good competitive season.”

While her love for the league — and the opportunities it’s given her through the years — shining through, O’Gorman is still glad she went overseas for a spell.

It’s common practice now for Bell’s players to up sticks and progress their career elsewhere, but she wouldn’t change a thing in that regard.

“I still would have gone. It’s a decision that I don’t regret. It probably helped me as a person and as a footballer as well. I had a lot to learn when I was over in England as well.

Aine O'Gorman scores her second goal of the game Celebrating a goal in 2016. Source: Tommy Dickson/INPHO

“I’m happy to be home now. I’m a bit of a home bird so I wasn’t going anywhere else too fast!”

Her day job is as a gym instructor in the Glenview Hotel and Leisure Club, teaching classes and what not, and it’s clear to see she’s enjoying aspect of her life right now.

She’s on the trail for her coaching badges at the minute, coming towards the end of her Uefa B course. Having more time for other things is important.

“It’s nice to look at the bigger picture as well and what life can be like after football. You can’t play forever. With work, and I’m doing my coaching badges so they’re good to have, and it was a good opportunity for me as I finished playing international football.

“Right now, I’m enjoying playing football but down the line, I think I’d probably like to go into the coaching end of things a little bit more. It’s not until I hang my boots up.”

“It’s nice to help the younger girls and give back in whatever way you can, share that experience,” she adds, when it’s put to her that she’s probably doing bits and pieces even as a player, and the leader of her team.

James O'Callaghan Peamount manager James O'Callaghan. Source: Laszlo Geczo/INPHO

With James O’Callaghan at the helm again and little to no change within the squad and rest of the staff, the continuity is key for 2019,

+”We’ll take all the points we can and see where we end up at the end of the season. Hopefully with a trophy in our hands!”

Her mind wanders back to their last outing of the 2018 season, when Wexford Youths beat them 1-0 in the Women’s FAI Cup final at the Aviva Stadium.

She’d rather not dwell on that result a whole pile though, as Peamount look to return to the superb form they showed towards the end of the league.

“Towards the latter end of last season, we started coming into our own. We did get really good momentum towards the end so hopefully now we can bring that into this season and keep it going.”

Karen Duggan dejected after the game Karen Duggan dejected as Wexford celebrate. Source: Ryan Byrne/INPHO

“Winning the league is a tough challenge,” she concedes. “I’d say the best team wins the league, they’re the most consistent throughout the season. It’s just about not dropping the momentum or slipping up along the way.

Confident that her side should be successful should they pick up from where they left off and build on that this season, O’Gorman is more than ready to step up to the challenge.

And that starts tonight. Set the wheels in motion and go from there.

“We’re just going to give it our best shot,” she concludes. “Hopefully we get the results we need and bring a bit of silverware back to Greenogue!”

Andy Dunne joins Murray Kinsella and Ryan Bailey to discuss Joe Schmidt’s undroppables and how France might attack Ireland’s predictability in The42 Rugby Weekly.


Source: The42 Rugby Weekly/SoundCloud

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Emma Duffy

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