Teen ace Kiernan: 'I very much appreciate them giving me the ball to score the goals!'

The 19-year-old was recently named FAI Senior Women’s Player of the Year.

WITH SO MUCH coming up between international and club football, Ireland and West Ham star striker Leanne Kiernan hardly has a few spare minutes to look back on what’s been and gone.

Leanne Kiernan Leanne Kiernan has had a superb year. Ryan Byrne / INPHO Ryan Byrne / INPHO / INPHO

The 19-year-old sensation was recently named FAI Senior Women’s Player of the Year and while she couldn’t attend the awards ceremony on the night, Kiernan was lucky to have those closest to her by her side when she was told the good news.

An opportunity to perhaps stop still and appreciate everything she’s done over the past year and beyond, it was a truly special moment. One to savor.

“My parents were over in London for a game that week, so they were with me when I found out I’d won,” she explained, speaking from Ireland WNT’s base at Reggio Emilia, northern Italy, ahead of their international friendly on Tuesday.

“To be honest, I was massively shocked, but I’m very thankful. I am really humbled to have won the award. I get a huge amount of support from my family and they were so proud of me winning, so I was really happy for them too.”

From signing for the Hammers and sparkling week in, week out in the Women’s Super League, to making waves on the international stage after powering through the underage ranks, it’s been a meteoric rise for the prolific goal-scorer. 

That doesn’t come easy though, as any sportsperson knows.

Hard work, dedication, effort and commitment are all keys to success, and that’s what brings recognition ultimately.

“I just tried my best and helped the team out as much as I could,” she responded when asked what she thinks helped her to that accolade.

“My team-mates around me helped me out an awful lot, and Colin [Bell], he’s a big reason for me winning the award and I’m grateful for that.

“All the messages I got congratulating me were lovely. I’ve good team-mates around me and I really appreciate them – I also very much appreciate them giving me the ball to score the goals!”

Delighted with how her career is progressing in London — injury setbacks aside — Kiernan added: “It’s actually going really well for me.

“I was just telling Colin the other day, that I’m loving it. I’m really am enjoying it. The season is coming to an end soon, but I’m very happy to go another season over there.

“My team-mates are very good to me too. I was in and out of the team a bit this year with West Ham because of injuries, so my aim now is to get a good season under my belt.”

Chelsea Women v West Ham United Women - FA Women's Super League - Kingsmeadow Facing Chelsea with West Ham. EMPICS Sport EMPICS Sport

But her entire focus at the minute is on international duty whilst in camp.

After coming close in the last campaign, the Girls In Green are hoping that they can finally get over the line and qualify for a first-ever major tournament this time around.

Euro 2021 qualifiers kick off in August, with Ireland drawn against Germany, Ukraine, Greece and Montenegro.

“My aim is just to qualify,” Kiernan says. “That would be massive, we would be making history if we did that.

“And the work towards that has already started. Everything has been very good in camp this week. The atmosphere is excellent, and training has been very good actually. It has been very high quality.

“We do realise when we’re in for maybe a 10-day camp that we’re getting closer to the European qualifiers and we need to be switched on all the time to get as much as possible out of the time we have together.

“As Colin says, there’s no such thing as a friendly game; he’s right.”

And that’ll be to the forefront of each and every one of the players’ minds this week as they gear up to face Italy — who are in World Cup preparation.

“I’m really looking forward to the game against Italy, it’s going to be a tough test against a top seeded team,” the teenage ace concluded.

“You want to play the best teams, and for us to get a result would be a big confidence boost going into the qualifiers in September.

“Everybody wants to be in that squad when the time comes so there is good competition in training too, which is healthy. Hopefully we can take what we’ve done in training into the game on Tuesday.”

Ireland WNT face Italy at Mapei Stadium, Reggio Emilia on Tuesday [KO 17:30 Irish time]

- Quotes from the FAI

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