Peamount United manager James O'Callaghan. Tommy Dickson/INPHO
Flying the flag

'Representing Ireland in Europe is a huge honour' - Champions League adventure begins

Peamount United face Serbian champions Spartak Subotica in tomorrow’s Qualifying Round.

FOR THE SECOND year running, Peamount United are representing Ireland in the Uefa Women’s Champions League.

It comes as their fourth European adventure, and begins against Serbian champions Spartak Subotica in Wednesday’s Qualifying Round.

The back-to-back Women’s National League [WNL] champions flew to the Netherlands yesterday ahead of the must-win clash as they eye the group stages.

Flying the tricolour proudly, and representing the league and women’s football in Ireland, is the main goal. Everything usually follows from there.

“Firstly, we want to give a good account of ourselves,” Peamount boss James O’Callaghan said.

“We are champions of Ireland, so we are fully aware that we are representing our country, our league and our club.

“The girls don’t get a lot for winning our league. Sure, there is the prestige and the achievement that goes with it but they are not professional players, so the opportunity to represent Ireland in Europe is a huge honour.”

Having pushed Scottish powerhouse Glasgow City all the way in their Qualifying Round game last year – it took a penalty shootout to separate the sides after a thrilling contest against the full-time outfit – Peas are keen to go again in Europe’s top club competition.

Victory in Enschede would see them face a top-seeded side – either Dutch outfit FC Twente or Nike Tbilisi of Georgia – in a play-off round for a group stage place on Saturday afternoon.

Tomorrow’s opponents Spartak reached the round of 32 last year when the competition was run on a different format, but O’Callaghan — whose side are top of the WNL amidst an exciting title race — is confident.

“It’s going to be a tough game,” the manager, whose daughter Lauryn plays for the team, said.

“They have won their league 10 times, they are a professional team and have qualified from the group stages of the Champions League. So we are under no illusions how tough it will be.

“Our league form is good, we have confidence and momentum, and we are halfway through our season, while they are just coming out of their pre-season so that might us an edge. We are really looking forward to it.”

Peamount’s European record is four wins and five defeats from nine games, in which they scored 21 goals and conceded 11.

Forward Becky Watkins is the only player unavailable to Peamount, who boast a blend of youth and experience with some of the biggest names in Irish women’s football – Áine O’Gorman, Stephanie Roche and Karen Duggan, to name just three – in their ranks.

The recent signings of Chloe Moloney, Rebekah Carroll and Lauren Kelly provide squad depth at a crucial time.

Uefa Women’s Champions League Qualifying – Round 1

Champions Path – Tournament 9

Peamount United v Spartak Subotica
Wednesday, August 18
KO 12:00
Sportcampus Diekman, Enschede
Referee: Ana Maria Alexandra Terteleac (Romania).

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