'When you’re going from a 9-0 win to facing Wexford, you have to question if that’s the right preparation'

Aine O’Gorman will be hoping to inspire Peamount to a win in this weekend’s FAI Cup final.

Aine O'Gorman (file pic).
Aine O'Gorman (file pic).
Image: Laszlo Geczo/INPHO

Updated at 14.50

PEAMOUNT’S AINE O’GORMAN is hoping it’s third-time lucky in the FAI Cup final at the Aviva Stadium.

Back in 2010, she scored a hat-trick as Peamount beat Salthill Devon 4-2 in the final at Tolka Park.

However, since the game was moved to the Aviva in 2013, she has not emulated that success.

The Wicklow native was part of the UCD Waves side that were beaten 2-1 by a Katie McCabe-inspired Raheny in 2014. She also featured last year, as Peamount lost 1-0 to Wexford Youths, while she was also part of the UCD Waves squad when they lost 1-0 to Cork City in 2017, though she did not play that game due to injury.

This season, however, surely represents O’Gorman’s best chance yet. Peamount are favourites for the match, recently winning the league title, finishing well ahead of third-place Wexford.

“There’s been consistency to our performances,” she says. “Last year, there were a lot of new players and people were expecting us to do great things. There’s been a stronger togetherness and improved team spirit this year.

“We’ve the experience of last year. It was the first time to play here in the final for a lot of the players and we’ve more of a relaxed approach. Our aim was to win the league and this is a bonus. We want to go out, play well and lift the trophy.

“It’s a big occasion and a bigger pitch… Hopefully we can adapt to that and use it to our advantage.”

From an individual perspective, O’Gorman has had a fine season too. Her 20 goals have played a big part in propelling Peamount to the title, though team-mates Megan Smyth-Lynch (19), Eleanor Ryan Doyle (18) and the now-departed Amber Barrett (16) have been similarly influential.

Although with a phenomenal 26 goals, Wexford Youths and Ireland striker Rianna Jarrett has eclipsed them all.

“Rianna has obviously been a quality player for a long time. She was hit with numerous injuries. She never really got a good run at international football, but she has always been in and around the team.

The performance she put in against Ukraine was no surprise to us. I think it was fully deserved and it’s a massive credit to herself, most of the others are professionals, playing here as an amateur in the country.

“It’s great to put on a display like that and obviously she’s one to watch for Sunday. So that’s obviously going to be a good challenge for us.”

On account of her form with Wexford and particularly on the back of displays at international level, there has been much talk about Jarrett going abroad and playing professionally. O’Gorman believes the 25-year-old would have no problem adapting to a higher level of football in England or elsewhere.

“She was top goalscorer last season in the league, top goalscorer this season, I think she’s a massive part of what Wexford do. She’s good with her right and left foot, a threat in the air as well and she’s gotten herself in really good shape, and that’s evident in her performance against Ukraine as well — her work-rate, on and off the ball.

“I think she has all the attributes to be a top striker, so I wouldn’t be surprised if [a move abroad] happens.”

rianna-jarrett-with-louise-corrigan Peamount will need to stop the prolific Rianna Jarrett in order to prevail on Sunday. Source: Tommy Dickson/INPHO

Yet it’s been a little too easy for the likes of Jarrett and O’Gorman at times. Matches against the weaker sides in the Women’s National League often tend to be one-sided and lead to big scores.

“I still think the gap is too big. It’s something that needs to be addressed.

“Some games, when you’re winning by so much, you wonder does anybody get anything out of it.

“When you’re going from a 9-0 win to facing Shelbourne or Wexford, you have to question if that’s the right preparation as a team. It’s demoralising for the opposition.

“It’s down to investment and resources for the clubs. And then trying to keep the players coming through from the U17s. Hopefully we can get them through.”

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O’Gorman might soon have a chance to tackle these issues first-hand, having been proposed by the Professional Footballers’ Association of Ireland to join an FAI high-performance committee.

“Yeah, I’ve gone for the high-performance committee. I haven’t heard anything back,” she says.

“It’s important to get the feedback of players, a different angle, into the structures of the FAI.

“I think it’s good to have people from different backgrounds. Players have come through the system so their input is invaluable.”

Regardless of what happens on Sunday though, it is unlikely to unduly affect O’Gorman’s legacy, with 100 Ireland caps, cups and league titles  to her name, in addition to Champions League appearances with Peamount.  She is hopeful that the next generation of players coming through can enjoy similar success.

I think Niamh Farrelly will be looking to break into the international team. She was injured for the last camp. She’s a top player for us. Eleanor Ryan-Doyle has been brilliant for us all season as well, playing in that number 10 role, on and off the ball.

“So I think there are good young players coming through — on the 17s, there’s Della Doherty. I don’t know if you’ve ever seen her play, but she’s quality. Becky [Watkins] who plays for the 17s as well out on the wing is a top player. They’re training in and around us and would be looking to break into our squad.”

Yet the team still have some way to go if they are to replicate Eileen Gleeson’s class of 2012, with O’Gorman one of the few players still at the club who was also around back then.

“I think that was obviously a one-of-a-kind team with a lot of special players, with Sue Byrne, Ruth Comerford, Sara Lawlor, Stephanie Roche, Julie-Ann Russell, Karen Duggan was in that team as well. But they made a great breakthrough in Europe as well, getting out of the group, and I think that’s a goal for us as well, to make our mark in Europe, qualify from the group and get through to the knockout stages.”   

It’s Rugby World Cup final week! On the latest episode of The42 Rugby Weekly, Murray Kinsella joins Gavan Casey and Sean Farrell to preview Saturday’s showdown between England and South Africa.

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