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Dublin: 10°C Friday 16 April 2021

Balancing college, work and Champions League football, while looking towards a bright future

Eleanor Ryan Doyle will lead the Peamount charge in their European clash against Glasgow City tomorrow.

PEAMOUNT UNITED STAR Eleanor Ryan Doyle is hoping she’ll be logging onto online college on Thursday morning with a smile on her face.

peamount-united-media-day Euro vision: Eleanor Ryan Doyle. Source: Sam Barnes/SPORTSFILE

One of the top talents in the league on these shores, Ryan Doyle will take to the European stage for the first time tomorrow night as Peamount face all-conquering Scottish kingpins Glasgow City in the Uefa Women’s Champions League [KO 7pm, live on GCFC TV and BBC Alba].

The attacking playmaker has undertaken a Masters in Business in Blanchardstown, with classes two-days a week, while she balances her studies with work. “It’s tough enough keeping the balance between all these things,” she nods, with her focus firmly on this football assignment.

Playing in the Champions League is certainly something that doesn’t happen every week. 

“It’s very exciting for myself and the team,” Ryan Doyle begins. “This is my first Champions League [campaign]. It’s just exciting, the run up to it.

“We didn’t even expect to be playing Champions League with everything going on, so I think we’re lucky enough to even get one match, and then win the match and get to the next round and continue on. Everyone’s raring to go, excited and up for the match.”

Progression is the hope anyway and while confident, the 22-year-old Dubliner is also real. “I think we’re the underdogs and we have nothing to lose really. There’s a lot of pressure on Glasgow to compete and win this match.”

City, who have Irish duo Clare Shine and Tyler Toland on their books amongst a strong cohort of international talent, are 13-in-a-row Scottish champions and reached the European quarter-finals last season, only to fall to eventual finalists Wolfsburg.

A tall order lies ahead, everyone involved in James O’Callaghan’s set-up knows that, but Ryan Doyle says it’s important they realise the strength and depth in their own ranks, shut out the nerves and “remember how good we are”. They know exactly what it will take to grind out a result and produce a shock, as such, and feel they can do just that.

While Peamount have enjoyed some stunning league form as they look to go back-to-back, a few weeks out of competitive action resulted in numerous in-house matches.

“They’re probably the most competitive matches, because people are fighting for the places in 11-v-11 against your own players. It always ends up in a scrap because everyone wants to weigh in,” she laughs. But again, she knows how important it is as the Greenogue outfit prepare to compete in Europe for the first time since 2011.

Nine years ago, they challenged full-time club PSG in the knockout stages, and again, Glasgow are a few steps ahead as Scottish women’s football edges towards professionalism. While Glasgow are not fully so, Celtic and Rangers recently confirmed their pay-for-play status and Ryan Doyle knows that’s what Irish teams face when they compete on the continent.

It’s not something she foresees here just yet though, like her team-mate and Golden Boot rival Áine O’Gorman (It’s very competitive but a “bit of a laugh, and Ryan Doyle “couldn’t care less” if she wins it or now. She just has her eyes on the league prize and on European matters.) 

aine-ogorman-and-eleanor-ryan-doyle-celebrate-their-sides-first-goal Ryan Doyle and Áine O'Gorman. Source: Tommy Dickson/INPHO

“I don’t think we’re at the stage at the moment where we can go professional,” she concedes. “I don’t think there’s enough money pumped into the women’s section yet.

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“But I think it’s getting much better over the last few years. It’d be great in my football career in Ireland that we can be professional and we can compete against all these teams across Europe, but at the moment I don’t think it’s going to happen professionally.

“But I’d like to see it in my football career.”

Taking her own journey overseas is something she’s interested in, and it very well could happen in the next year or two as she wraps up her studies on home soil.

“I’ll see what opportunities arise for myself. If something does come up, I will consider it. I think a footballer who wants to progress, they need to go abroad at the moment. If the opportunity does arise, I think I will go and see what happens, challenge myself.

“A lot of players are going to play in the English, German and Italian leagues. I think it’s more European, which suits me more. It’s closer to home and only a flight away, whereas  the likes of America, or even Australia if people go over there…

“It’s closer to home and it’d be nicer to get somewhere in Europe. It’s a better opportunity where family can go over and watch, just a flight over. It’s lovely that it’s kind of changing as Europe is getting stronger, and competing against USA especially on the international scene.”

For now, her attention is strictly on her beloved Peamount and a hectic few weeks of action ahead as she hopes to continue her glittering individual form.

That all starts with Glasgow City tomorrow night, before their FAI Cup semi-final against holders Wexford Youths at the weekend as the run-in of the league also heats up.

“It’s important for us to remember that we have the league back home as well as the Champions League, but we’re taking one game at a time,” Ryan Doyle explains. 

“It’s exciting times for us. We’re challenging for Champions League and the league and the cup. We have a lot of big games coming up, but it’s definitely doable.

“We can’t get cocky and overly confident about these matches. We need to take one big match at a time. We want to win the league again, we want to compete in Champions League so it’s important for us to remember that there’s big games coming up and we need to work hard and keep going throughout them.”

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Emma Duffy

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