Ellen Molloy on the ball against Russia at the Pinatar Cup. Martin Seras Lima/INPHO
The Ellen Show

The 17-year-old Leaving Cert student lighting it up with Ireland

Wexford Youths star Ellen Molloy is one of the brightest young talents in Irish football.

NOT MANY PEOPLE can say they’ve represented the Republic of Ireland at senior level before they’ve completed their Leaving Certificate.

Ellen Molloy can. Not that she probably ever would, the incredibly modest Wexford Youths sensation preferring to do her talking on the pitch. Lighting it up each and every time she gets the chance.

The 17-year-old completed her Mock examinations prematurely, so her full focus could be on international duty at the Pinatar Cup in Spain. She earned her first start in Saturday’s 1-0 defeat to Russia, winning her fifth cap in an impressive midfield cameo.

“I really enjoyed it,” the Thomastown teenager beams, as the focus switches to this afternoon’s third-place play-off against Wales. “It was nice to get the opportunity.”

Another football boxed ticked, as the education ones keep on coming.

“I did all my mocks last week, so I didn’t have to study this week,” she explains.

“The school have helped me a lot. They ordered different papers than the rest of the students in my school. They gave me a room and I sat them. I did two exams a day for five days. It was quite busy, but I just knew when I was here, I didn’t want to study. I just wanted to focus on football.”

Understandably happy to have the dreaded pres over and done with, Molloy can’t say enough good things about her school, Presentation Kilkenny, and how accommodating and helpful the teachers and all involved are.

That certainly helps when it comes to balancing it all, though it’s still a challenge. 

“It is kind of tough, especially this year. It’s all about balance. I just make time for it all. This year, especially, I need to prioritise studying at times. So I’m just like, ‘If it’s just for one year I need to prioritise study, I will.’

“I need time to switch off too, so I use that time to play football and I dunno, I somehow manage to fit it all in.”

ellen-molloy In action for Wexford Youths. Laszlo Geczo / INPHO Laszlo Geczo / INPHO / INPHO

In terms of trying to figure out what’s next, she’s currently exploring radiography and teaching. She’d like to continue studying, in some capacity; it’s just a matter of whether she can combine it with football or if she would have to prioritise one for now.

“I would like to combine the two if possible, but I’m not really too interested in the USA [scholarship] route,” Molloy notes.

“It’s kinda just seeing if clubs, maybe in the UK or whatever, offer that or else, stay in Ireland and [study] because I’m happy enough with Wexford at the moment. I’m still trying to figure it out and doing research and seeing what I can find out.”

Always learning and growing, Molloy says she’s asking Ireland team-mates about the situations at their respective clubs, and whether full- or part-time studying is catered for. Mature beyond her years, you can tell she’s like a sponge absorbing information.

Both on and off the pitch.

One of the brightest young talents in Irish football, Molloy has risen to prominence with Wexford Youths over the past two seasons. With an enviable highlights reel of simply stunning goals and magic skill, she had just turned 16 when she was first called up to the Republic of Ireland senior squad in August 2020.

Vera Pauw handed her her debut that October, sprung from the bench in the dying minutes of the devastating Euro 2022 qualifier defeat to Ukraine in Kiev. She remained in the fold thereafter, earning minutes here and there, but spent the latter stages of 2021 in with the U19s under the watchful eye of Dave Connell.

Herself and Kylie Murphy, in particular, excelled down the home straight of the Women’s National League [WNL] season, and Molloy produced a sparkling performance in Wexford’s FAI Cup final win.

It came at a cost, however, as a torn hamstring in the closing minutes pegged her back.

But she’s back to her brilliant best now, and ready to push on for club and for country.

An exuberant, creative attacking midfielder who looks to Denise O’Sullivan, Messi and Marta for inspiration, though has undoubtedly carved out her own playing style, there’s plenty of attention and praise thrown her way.

With that, at times, comes pressure. And with the good, often comes the bad.

But grounded as ever, Molloy takes it all in her stride.

“Last season I had to really get used to it,” she nods. “I just went from playing with Thomastown to all this media attention.

“It went from one extreme to another. So it’s just to adapt and get used to that, it was a bit of a learning curve for me, but I think I’m getting used to it slowly.

“I don’t really think getting to my head is an issue, it’s more not putting too much pressure on myself from all the praise. There was a while where I did kind of take it as pressure, and I kind of lost my feet a bit.

“But I think I’m getting used to it the more I play and stuff. Even interviews like this, I’m not really used to it but it’s good learning and I think I’m growing and getting better each time.”

“I wouldn’t be too interested in what is being said about me. I tend to try and avoid it and just focus on my own game,” she adds.

- Ireland v Wales, Pinatar Cup, kick-off 2.30pm, live on FAI TV



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