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'Absolutely terrible' to more cup success - every title lift gets better for Wexford's iconic captain

Kylie Murphy was raw, honest, and straight-talking as ever after yesterday’s FAI Cup final.

“OH MY GOD, unbelievable.”

Kylie Murphy began her post-match interview with a smile.

Wexford Youths’ legendary captain had just lifted her fourth FAI Cup crown, after her side’s brilliant second-half performance saw them past league champions Shelbourne on a 3-1 scoreline.

kylie-murphy-lifts-the-trophy Kylie Murphy lifting the 2021 Evoke.ie FAI Cup. Source: Laszlo Geczo/INPHO

Murphy is raw, honest and straight-talking, wearing her heart on her sleeve on and off the pitch.

Just like she’s a joy to watch in full flight, she’s a dream to interview. She speaks, you listen. You’re hanging off her every word, every time.

And as the celebrations erupted around her at Tallaght Stadium last night, it was no different.

“The first half was absolutely terrible,” she deadpanned, immediately after her opening line. “I would not say we performed.

“At half time, we had a chat. We couldn’t get much worse, so all it was for us was on the way up. We hadn’t implemented our game, we hadn’t done what we set out to do, we hadn’t done anything, only let Shelbourne play.

“Coming into the week, we knew that all we needed to do was play the way we play and if we are at our best, we’ll be okay. We weren’t at our very best in the second half, but we were a lot closer to what a Wexford Youths team is. That’s the difference.”

“It was frustrating,” she added when it’s pointed out that it was 1-1 at half time. “You want to go out and put on a show.

For me, at half time, it wasn’t good enough. I would have felt the very same if we went in 1-0 up. No matter what, performance is what matters. At the end of the day if you perform and you don’t get over the line, at least you can look in the mirror and say, ‘Do you know what? I done my best.’ But at half time it wasn’t good enough, we needed to change it.”

Perhaps a harsh assessment to start off after an FAI Cup final victory? “I know but sure we always want to set a bar,” she responds with a smile.

That sums Kylie Murphy up, highlighting her status as an icon in Irish women’s football.

She’s won it all and done it all at this stage. One of the best players the Women’s National League has ever produced, Murphy really is Captain Fantastic. She’s inspirational; a fearless and peerless leader, with buckets of ability and talent.

It’s hard to believe she doesn’t have an international senior cap, the 33-year-old putting on another typically excellent performance for her beloved Youths yesterday.

Murphy bagged her 14th goal of the season, having transitioned from a deep-lying midfielder to an out-and-out striker, mustering up a dangerous telepathic connection with teenage sensation Ellen Molloy this year.

The pair combined for Murphy’s 50th-minute strike, the Graiguecullen stalwart volleying home Molloy’s ball into the box.

“I just snapped at it,” she recalls. “I knew if I tried to swing at it and put power on it, it could have went anywhere. For me, it was just trying to get it on target. It kind of came behind me. My arse hit the floor and I was like, ‘Oh my God!’ I couldn’t believe it went in.

“That was the first time we played. It was the 50th minute and that was the first time we started to play, the first time that we slinged a few passes together, and that’s what we can do when we play like that.”

From the young blood of Molloy and Aoibheann Clancy, to Orlaith Conlon’s last-ditch goal-stopping tackle, Murphy had a word for all of her players. “Every single one of them were just incredible,” she smiled, with her respects paid to the opposition too.

“Shels are a class team. They could turn a game in a matter of seconds. Technically, tactically, they’re such a good team and superb players.”

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She also was asked to weigh in on the ongoing Tallaght versus Aviva Stadium debate. For the second year running, the defacto home of Irish women’s football has hosted the FAI Cup final, while it was played as a double-header at Lansdowne Road long before that.

“I have to say, in the run up, if you had to have given me the choice, I would always say the Aviva because it’s your national stadium but you can’t take away from the fact that the atmosphere was unbelievable there today,” she said.

“You could feel it from the Shels supporters, the Wexford Youths supporters. I mean a standalone event is amazing as well, it’s give and it’s take, but if I was to have my choice, I’d put it back in the Aviva. There’s something breathtaking about it.”

But naturally that was a sidenote, as she kept the spotlight on the Slaneysiders. “It means everything,” Murphy beamed. “It brings a bit of momentum into the next season.

“We were trophy-less last season and it hurt. It wasn’t good enough from a Wexford Youths point of view. It did hurt. It’s in the back of your head and you don’t want to be leaving this year without another trophy. It’s really good.

“First and foremost next year, we’ll be going after the Women’s National League. It’s what gives you Champions League soccer, but I mean, I’m not going to complain about this because I’m pretty happy.”

And what about feeling of lifting a fourth FAI Cup, to finish? “Unbelievable. It gets better every time. It really does. Absolutely unbelievable.”

BTL 5

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Emma Duffy

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