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Dublin: 9°C Sunday 16 May 2021

'Stuff like that you dream of when you're younger' - Wexford's two-goal cup final hero

The perfect end to a great personal year for Lauren Kelly.

IT WAS A day to remember for Wexford Youths’ two-goal FAI Cup final hero Lauren Kelly.

lauren-kelly-celebrates-scoring-her-sides-second-goal Lauren Kelly scored twice for the champions. Source: Oisin Keniry/INPHO

The former Peamount United star came back to haunt her ex-club on the biggest stage at the Aviva Stadium as Tom Elmes’ Wexford defended their FAI Cup title against the 2019 league champions. 

Kelly was on the double, while captain Kylie Murphy added Youths’ third in their pulsating 3-2 win at the national stadium. 

And after banging in two excellent goals — one of those setting the tone in the third minute and the other a superb second-half lob — Player of the Match Kelly admitted that it was quite surreal.

Going out there today, she couldn’t dream of scoring once, never mind twice.

“Absolutely not,” she smiled. “For me, I’m not as frequent of a goalscorer as Rianna [Jarrett] or some of the other girls on the team. But I’ve been pushed up, I’m playing more up top lately and the goals have been more frequent.

On the big stage like that, it’s like something you’d hope but you never really expect. It’s amazing, especially to help the team.

“This whole year has been great for me,” she added on her first year involved with the 2018 domestic treble winners.

“In Italy at the Student Games, I scored against Brazil, stuff like that you dream of when you’re younger. Scoring in the Champions League as well, this year has rounded up things that you dream of when you’re younger but you don’t actually think are gonna happen. It’s been a really good year for me, personally.”

Today was most definitely the icing on the cake. 

In manager Tom Elmes’ post-match press conference, the Birmingham native noted that he told Kelly she was going to score today after the warm-up.

Their game plan was to play two up front, and in turn, free up space for the two-goal hero as much of the attention there would be on Ireland star Jarrett.

“He came up to me when we were walking off the pitch and he was like, ‘You’re going to score today,’” Kelly explains. “He does that a lot and I’m like, ‘Yeah, sure…’ I don’t know what to say.

The first one went in and I was like, ‘Jesus Christ, the chap was right’, I don’t know how. He had a feeling, everyone can have a feeling but it’s good to actually go out and do it. To score, especially on a stage like that, for me personally it’s great.

While obviously hers was the name on everyone’s lips afterwards, Kelly heaped praise on her team-mates, Jarrett and Murphy in particular, and stressed how pleased the side were to see their game plan work dividends.

You can tell just how happy Kelly is at Wexford with every word she speaks. She’s really had a new lease of life at the club.

“Absolutely,” she agrees. “I spent three seasons at Peamount when I was younger, very young. I had to leave because Amber [Barrett] was there, I wasn’t getting games and there were players there that I wasn’t able to get in ahead of.

“I went to UCD for two seasons and I never really got regular game time. Since I’ve come to Wexford, Tom has been very patient with me. Even when I came in pre-season, I was kind of in-form at the time and showed what I could have the first few months.

When we went to Champions League, I found a bit of confidence and since then, I’ve just kicked on and have been probably playing the best football I’ve ever played.

So, today was quite sweet. Personal vindication after leaving Peas due to lack of game time a few years back.

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“I have all the respect in the world for Peamount, I loved my time at Peamount,” she emphasises. “I was there since I was about 10. But when you’re not getting game, you have to look after yourself at the same time.

You have to do what’s best for you so obviously I had to leave. To go back and score like that against them — not in a bad way — you’ve kind of proven yourself. At least I’ve proven myself now and they know. 

“I’m happy out in Wexford, I’m so grateful for Tom who had patience with me and gave me a chance. He’s literally played me every game this season so it’s good to repay him and the girls as well. They’ve been so nice since I came to Wexford, you couldn’t meet a nicer bunch. 

“At Wexford, I have this confidence that I’ve never really had. I’ve constantly thought that you have to prove yourself to other people but with them, it’s like what I’ve done, I’m proving myself but not feeling like I have to. It’s just happening naturally, the confidence that they give you helps you out. It’s a great club.”

And given Wexford’s underwhelming league campaign, ending the season on a high with silverware was hugely important.

lauren-kelly-celebrates-with-tom-elems-after-the-game With Elmes afterwards. Source: Oisin Keniry/INPHO

“I suppose with the league people had written us off,” she concludes. “We know ourselves that it’s nowhere near… I know I’m only here one season, but it’s not Wexford’s standard.

“It’s been very good but against the top teams, we’ve been unlucky in a way. There’s excuses but at the end of the day, we lost whatever games, finished third which isn’t good enough for us.

Today has capped it off and it’s good to finish on a positive note as well, that we have something to show for it.

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About the author:

Emma Duffy

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