'I wish I was about 10 years of age right now coming into what is going to happen in the sport'

Kylie Murphy talks the development of the women’s game in Ireland, and where it has come from.

LAST UPDATE | 27 Jan 2022

KYLIE MURPHY THIS week returned to Tallaght Stadium, scene of her FAI Cup final triumph two months earlier. 

sse-airtricity-swi-personality-of-the-year-awards-2021 Kylie Murphy, winner of the SSE Airtricity/Soccer Writers Ireland Women's Personality of the Year. Piaras Ó Mídheach / SPORTSFILE Piaras Ó Mídheach / SPORTSFILE / SPORTSFILE

Again she left with a prize: this time the inaugural SSE Airtricity/Soccer Writers Ireland Women’s Personality of the Year award for 2021. Hers was a mightily successful year, she began by relocating from midfield to up front and then scored 15 league goals along with a further two in the FAI Cup, one of which came in the 3-1 final victory final against Shels. 

“It was an incredible day with an incredible atmosphere”, says Murphy. 

“For me, it’s probably bittersweet. It’s hard to look at the league table. There were two results that could have had us clinching the league title. It was always close between Shelbourne, Peamount and us. Unfortunately you can’t slip up too many times and we did. To get so close in the league and win the FAI Cup, I can’t complain too much. I’m probably a little bit harsh. I set a bar and that’s just who I am. Others might say they’d be happy just winning the FAI Cup but I always want everything.” 

Bittersweet, too, is the decision to move the Cup final from the Aviva Stadium to Tallaght.

“I was hugely disappointed the first year that the final came out of the Aviva. It’s your national stadium and every kid wants to play in it. But I have to say that I was up here for the first Cup final at Tallaght and was very impressed at the show they put on. It was incredible.

“I’d still prefer to be in the Aviva but there’s no disregarding the atmosphere in Tallaght. Even looking at the stadium today, how good the pitch is, my first thought is coming back here to the Cup final. It is where we’re at and hopefully we can get a bigger crowd next year but eventually get back to the Aviva because I do believe it should be played there.”

Albeit starting from a low base, the women’s game here is on the rise. TG4 came on board last year to broadcast four games from the season run-in, while this season, games will be streamed for free on LOITV. 

“It was amazing for TG4 to come in and take the four games”, says Murphy. “I would love if they could come in and take every game – that would be even better, wouldn’t it?

“Even down to the League of Ireland app showing it live and for free is huge. You can feel it in the last year or two, you can feel it’s really starting to grow at the pace it should be. There have been strides made but it’s been incredibly slow. I’m going into my 12th season with Wexford and there’s a couple of years where we’ve gone backwards in the growth of the women’s game.

“It’s amazing and I hope TG4 and more huge media outlets come in and try and sponsor it. The bigger we can make it. Even RTE showing the Cup final is amazing – could we get them to show the semi-finals? They’re cracking games as well. And maybe we can get to the stage where, in a year or two, they’re showing all the Cup games in the run-up to the final. That’s something we need to look towards.” 

At 33, Murphy is a relative veteran of the league, and says she has given up the ambition of playing at senior international level for Ireland. 

“I’ll always feel like it would have been nice to even have a chance, but I parked that bus a long time ago. Calling a 33-year-old in for their first cap is definitely unheard of. It is what it is. But no matter what, with Wexford and with the national league, I’ve given everything. I’m 100%, I’m all in, and for me I’ll never look back in ten years and say ‘If I had have done this or I had have done that.’ I give everything in everything I do for Wexford. It’s not to get a national call-up – it’s for Wexford and for that team. Maybe it just wasn’t meant to be.” 

Time is now her biggest enemy in that regard, and it’s not the only reason Murphy wishes she could only be starting out now. 

“Yeah. Without a shadow of a doubt, Ellen [Molloy]’s age or even younger. I would love to be those girls now coming through. What they are coming into is incredible, you can see what is coming for them. Ellen is what 16, 17 years of age. When I was their age, I was getting changed in the boot of a car or those old box containers that were literally rat-infested, you would be afraid to leave your clothes down. That is what I was getting changed in when I was 16.

“Maybe in a way, it makes me appreciate all of these things so much more, where the sport has grown to. There are so many opportunities out there for young girls coming now they put it in. The talent is always there but I always feel that if you have it upstairs, you have it in abundance.

“And I would be a bit envious. Even though I am so happy for them and for all of those girls coming up, yeah, I wish I was about 10 years of age right now coming into what is going to happen in the sport.” 


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