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Dublin: 13°C Thursday 22 April 2021
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Family club Peamount all set to take Champions League stage

Ireland’s representatives in Europe face Scottish powerhouse Glasgow City across the water tonight.

Eleanor Ryan Doyle celebrates a goal with Áine O'Gorman.
Eleanor Ryan Doyle celebrates a goal with Áine O'Gorman.
Image: Tommy Dickson/INPHO

GREEN IS SURELY the colour of the blood running through the veins of many at the club.

Peamount United always has been, and always will be, a constant in their life. 

And that’s best seen through Eleanor Ryan Doyle’s family affair in the first-team set-up.

“My Mam’s kit woman, my Dad records matches, my little brother, he’s more than likely the ball boy that runs around, and then my sister does the gate at the matches. It’s a lot within Peamount.”

22 now, Ryan Doyle has pretty much been a permanent fixture at Greenogue since she was eight or nine, from watching on in awe while climbing the underage ranks, to her first year in the Women’s National League aged 15, to now, establishing herself as one of the club’s best players.

Tonight, she’ll get her first taste of Champions League action — nine years on from seeing her heroes make history and face PSG in the same competition at Tallaght Stadium.

“I was actually a ball girl at the match, believe it or not,” she laughs, as the priceless memories come flooding back. “That’s something I really looked up to when I was younger on the side of the pitch, watching these players play against PSG.

All I wanted to do was win the league and play in Champions League. I think it’s the highest thing you can do with a club team, so it’s definitely one that was on the bucket list.

“And Wednesday is kind of making my dream come true, playing in Champions League. I’m very excited, and grateful for the opportunity.”

To do it with her family by her side, and playing such a central role, each and every step of the way makes it even more special. Nowadays, a lot of clubs in Europe’s elite competition are massive operations and big corporate entities, so to bring it right down to what it’s all about — football and family — is a welcome sight.

This is a big deal for everyone at the heart of the club, and it’s a moment to be shared.

“It’s great to have family involved, and with the other girls, their families are so involved too and it’s great to see. Peamount is such a family club.

“A lot of hard work has gone into it. Everyone in the club is volunteers, so much hard work… getting the flights ready, the transport, everything sorted, the kit. It’s great that Peamount have so many volunteers that are willing to literally take up any job and do it in their own time.

We’re lucky enough to have these people behind us and helping us make the journey over to Glasgow.” 

Having travelled on Monday night ahead of tonight’s showdown against the 13-in-a-row Scottish champions at City’s Broadwood Stadium [KO 7pm, live on GCFC TV and BBC Alba], Peas are ready for the challenge ahead.

While captain Áine O’Gorman, Stephanie Roche and Karen Duggan are among the handful of players with this level of big-match experience under their belt, Ryan Doyle is one of the many others ready for a first experience.

“It’s more exciting than daunting, I think. We know we can go into this match and win it. I think we’re going in confident and ready to win it. It’s important for us to know that we’re actually able for this match and able to compete at the highest level in Europe.

“Glasgow are going to be tough but I think we’re ready for the challenge.

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“One knockout match, anyone can win it. Even in the men’s, you can see that some of the teams — Dundalk competing in Europa League now at the moment, they’ve won knockout matches. 

Anything can happen on the day. It’s whoever turns up, it’s 11-v-11 at the end of the day, and I think if players work hard and do their job, we can definitely go and win it.”

Having spoken alongside O’Gorman earlier in the week, both outlined how they knew the height of the task that lies ahead in facing City, who have Irish duo Tyler Toland and Clare Shine on their books, and who reached the quarter-finals of last year’s Champions League competition only to exit at the hands of eventual finalists Wolfsburg.

But Peamount know the threat they pose themselves.

james-ocallaghan-after-the-game Manager James O'Callaghan, whose daughter Lauryn stars in defence. Source: Tommy Dickson/INPHO

While Ryan Doyle likely pull the strings at 10 for James O’Callaghan’s side, like she has done all year, she is joined by a fierce line-up of attacking talent and versatile players like new addition Sadhbh Doyle. And the Dubliner is well-versed to compare this current crop to others.

It’s probably the best Peamount team she’s played with, she nods, giving a big mention to the injection of youth from Becky Watkins and Della Doherty mixed with much-needed experience.

“It’s great to see that there’s a range from Becky and Della, 16 and 17, to Áine, who has over 100 caps for Ireland playing with us. I think it’s great to have this confidence and to be playing with these players you probably never expected to play with when you’re younger. 

“But yeah, I think it’s it’s one of the best teams I’ve seen in Peamount in years.”

A team that she firmly believes can get the job done on the big stage tonight, and over the coming weeks when they return to home soil for the business end of the league.

“I think we need to win the league again, to be honest, back-to-back,” Ryan Doyle concludes. “There’s no point in winning one league and then not winning the next because it could have just been a fluke.

“I think we need to show that we’re consistent throughout a few years. Obviously Europe is a bonus to us. We’re definitely able to compete at this high level and we’ll show ye on Wednesday! It’s important for us to compete in Europe, to show that Ireland is up-and-coming.”

- Originally published at 07:00.

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Emma Duffy

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