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'They woke us up and made us jump in a well' - Roche reflects on 'Hell Week' before FAI Cup semi-final

The Shankill native joined 17 other Irish celebrities and sportspeople on the TV programme.

Stephanie Roche's Peamount United will take on Wexford Youths for a place in the FAI Cup final.
Stephanie Roche's Peamount United will take on Wexford Youths for a place in the FAI Cup final.
Image: Brian Reilly-Troy/INPHO

NO FOOTBALLER ENJOYS pre-season training but few have taken it to the extremes Steph Roche did earlier this year.

Viewers of RTÉ’s Ultimate Hell Week have followed the Peamount United’s striker’s progress over the past six weeks but the show itself was recorded in March.

The Shankill native joined 17 other Irish celebrities and sportspeople, including the likes of Peter Stringer and Valerie Mulcahy, at the army ranger boot camp in Cork.

Roche bowed out on the second-last day, broadcast earlier this week, and has remained tight-lipped on who will be crowned the winner on Wednesday’s finale.

And having endured an experience she describes as ‘torture,’ she’ll be a little more relaxed by the prospect of facing Wexford Youths on Saturday for a place in the FAI Cup final.

“There was a thing where they woke us up in the middle of the night and made us jump in a well. I don’t even think they portray it,” says Roche.

“It was freezing cold water and you couldn’t feel the end. When you went in, you came up and automatically grabbed the wall, and they were like ‘let go of the wall.’

“So you had to tread the water for a couple of minutes. It was torture. You just got woken up, thrown in a well, back inside and outside for long workouts.

“I don’t think they really portray how bad on the TV show because we were out for about two hours.

“I’m terrified of heights and I don’t deal well with cold water, and I feel like the whole time that’s what we done! It was an experience to say the least.

“Speaking to my boyfriend Dean, he was like ‘you can’t never say you can’t anymore.’ Most Irish people, if somebody asks you to do something, you’re like ‘I can’t do that’.

“But now I’ve put myself through that so I feel a bit more assured of myself.”

While Wexford Youths haven’t quite endured a ‘hell week’ of their own, but a shock defeat to Galway last week ended a 19-game unbeaten streak and ended their title hopes.

Defender Lauren Dwyer was fit enough to make it to the bench at Ferrycarrig Park after missing a month with injury, and she says the defeat has hardened their resolve to succeed in the Cup.

“The last few games haven’t been great. We’ve been missing a few players and I think it was the kick we needed to get ourselves in shape and ready for Peamount,” she says.

“Training, so far, has been exceptional and we had to draw a line under the Galway game, move on and learn from the mistakes we made.

“We always want to compete, and even if we’d won against Galway, we needed Peamount to slip up and, in the form they’re in, they’re not going to.

“Our main focus now has turned to the Cup. We’ll take it one game at a time and hopefully we’ll get the right side of the result.”

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Dwyer has plenty of pedigree in the FAI Cup – so much so that she has to wrack her brains to remember if she’s won it two or three times.

“I’ve won three Cups – I won one with Raheny and two with Wexford. It’d be nice to get back there because we’re running dry on the trophies of recent!”

While Youths have struggled at times this year with numbers – captain Kylie Murphy has been forced to play out of position as a striker – the season has also seen younger players emerge.

Ellen Molloy is already established as a full international, while teenager Aoibheann Clancy also made the jump up in the latest squad.

“We’re adapting well and bringing in younger players, and we have the more experienced players there still. It’s great to see the 17s and 19s girls coming up.

“Kira Bates-Crosbie got on at the weekend and she started the game before that, and it’s great to see there is a development and pathway there into Women’s National League games.

“It can only benefit us in future, and it’s nice to have a mixture of both the youth and experience. It makes the team stronger and wants to perform.”

About the author:

Dave Donnelly

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