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'No one has their hand on any trophy. The aim every year is to win everything possible'

Wexford Youths captain and treble winner Kylie Murphy chats to The42 to ahead of the new WNL season.

Wexford Youths captain, Kylie Murphy.
Wexford Youths captain, Kylie Murphy.
Image: Tommy Dickson/INPHO

“EVERYTHING IS WORKED for. Every one of them trophies was worked for. We’re starting again now. Starting fresh. 

“You win a treble but you don’t get to hang onto it for too long. If we want to hold onto them for a little bit longer we’ll have to work damn hard for it.”

Kylie Murphy faces the new WNL season with renewed hunger. Admirable, when you consider the success Wexford Youths have enjoyed over the last 12 months.

With a domestic treble in the books and some excellent performances in the Champions League, you’d forgive any complacency that may have set in.

They were the best team in the country last year by any measure.

Ferrycarrig Park will likely be awash with fans as the curtain is raised on the new season against the newly-rebranded DLR Waves tonight, but for captain Murphy, preseason gave her side the chance to hit the reset button.

“We all kick off today and no one has their hand on any trophy,” she tells The42.

“They’re all up for grabs again.

That motivation is in each of us and it’s been in the squad for so long. What we achieved last year was something we’d been striving for.

“When you get the chance to lift a few trophies, you experience how exciting it is. Personally, the more I get to lift the more I want to do it again and again.

“There is no beating that feeling. You have to want to excel in every way and want to win every trophy going.”

Categorising 2018′s success means taking into account all of the hard work that had gone in behind it. Prior to the season’s opener 12 months ago, Wexford went into the new campaign as defending champions.

In fact, they had emerged as WNL champions in three of the previous four seasons.

Upheaval had come in their management set-up with Laura Heffernan stepping away and the appointment of Tom Elmes in 2018. 

Elmes, of course, is highly regarded within Wexford soccer having played for the club, so taking up the role was a natural progression from player to coach.

Murphy admits that the transition was smoother than could be expected.

“Tom has his own philosophy and going into preseason, we realised we didn’t have to subscribe to another one.

A lot of the stuff that was taught to us last year, we carried over into the season. We didn’t have to start from scratch.

“Heading into the season, we already feel like we’re ahead and we should be with a year like we’ve just had behind us.

We didn’t have to think at all over Christmas. Who’s coming in, what’s happening? It was just: ‘Girls, go enjoy your break. Yee fully deserve it.’

“It was very nice to hear that. We knew that he was buying into what we needed.

“Tom and the management team made us fully aware at the start of last season that they were there to make a difference.

“There was no unknown this season. After the Aviva in November we just said we’d break away, have our rest and wind down.

We had gone from one thing to another [in recent years] – a change in management or in players. The transition can be quite a lot. We had done it for so many years.

“We could relax a little knowing coming into this season. We’re after having a great preseason, we lost one or two players but gained a few as well. Things are chipping along well.”

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Kylie Murphy lifts the trophy Kylie Murphy lifts the Continental Tyres FAI Women's Cup after November's victory over rivals, Peamount United. Source: Ryan Byrne/INPHO

Undoubtedly Ireland’s elite team this decade, the 30-year-old has also been central to Youths’ Champions League successes – including last year’s victory over Linfield in Belfast.

Ahead of the new term, Murphy added that building on their performance on the European stage is increasingly achievable thanks to the team’s growing experience.

“The more we know, the better. We’ll know better how to set up against these teams.

Obviously we’d love to be going into Champions League playing our soccer, but that’s just not possible.

“We’re not anywhere near the calibre of players some teams have. Those are full-time professionals. But there’s one thing you can do and be smarter than them.

“We’re able to sit down with the team and come up with something to go and beat European opposition.

Last year in Belfast, we were so well thought out. We’d done so much work. But the reality is we can go in and do exactly what we were told to do and work harder than we thought we were going to work – and still not come out with the result because of that calibre of [opposition] player.”

Kylie Murphy Murphy captained her side to FAI Women's Cup success last November. Source: Tommy Dickson/INPHO

Across the League of Ireland, attendances in 2019 have proved strong in the Premier Division and First Division’s opening games.

With what appears to be an increased interest in the game domestically, Murphy is confident that the league will attract larger numbers than ever before.

“[There are] more and more people starting to talk about it. The more we can build on that, the better.

Like, they really are great games. I know a lot of people came out to see the showcases put on in the Aviva – that was the highlight of the year 

“As good a game as it was, there are probably better games happening week in, week out in the league.”

Peamount United will return looking to knock Wexford off their perch, while Murphy added: “You can’t take anything away from Shels, either.

“No matter how quiet they are, they’re always there pecking on the door.”

The target remains on the back of this Youths team. But with experience and confidence behind them, how likely would a historic double treble actually be?

“Who knows at the moment? It’s such early days. We don’t know what’s after changing around in different squads and they don’t know how we’re going to set out.

“We’ll get the feelers out after the first round.

But the aim every year when we sit down is to win everything possible. Always.

“A big one for us this year is that it’ll be our fourth year going into the Champions League qualifiers. To get out of that would be massive.

“We’ll always look first at the domestic league and trying to retain the three trophies.”

Wexford Youths begin the defence of their WNL crown on Saturday evening against DLR Waves [KO 6.30pm, Ferrycarrig Park].

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