Galway women come together to form new National League side

WHILE talks are continuing on plans to have a single Galway side playing in the Airtricity League of Ireland next season, the women of the city and county have got a jump on their male counterparts with the launch of the new Galway Women’s FC, which will play in the women’s national league in the coming season.

The manager of the Republic of Ireland’s senior women’s side, Sue Ronan, was on hand in the city last Thursday to launch the new side, which will join Castlebar Celtic, Cork Women FC, DLR Waves, Peamount United, Raheny United, Shamrock Rovers and Wexford Youths in the Bus Éireann Women’s National League for the 2013/14 season, which kicks-off on Sunday August 25.

“It is great to have another senior women’s team in the country, and particularly one in Galway as it both gives the league a better spread, and also offers another outlet for players to gain experience and progress to the international set-up,” said Ronan.

Galway WFC will play their home games in Eamonn Deacy Park, and Chairman of the Galway FA, Joe Keating, said it was one of the easiest decision ever made by the association.

“We are delighted to make Eamonn Deacy Park available to the new team, it was a ‘no brainer’ for us. Galway has a good history in the women’s game, a Galway side under Stephen Lally and George Guest won the national title in the 2006/07 season and went on to represent Ireland in Europe.

“If all the girls from Galway who are playing elsewhere come back, the club will certainly be a force to be reckoned with,” he said. Galway WFC will be managed by former Galway United player, Nigel Keady.

Secretary of the new club, Kieran O’Mahony, said a lot of work had gone on behind the scenes to get the club off the ground, and he paid tribute to the likes of NUIG, GMIT, Renmore FC, Corrib Rangers and Salthill Devon for their support for the venture.

“Getting Eamonn Deacy Park for our home games was a huge boost to us, and we want to thank the Galway FA for that. The committee first met last October under the chairmanship of Stephen Moran, and it is his drive and initiative that has got us to this launch tonight,” said O’Mahony, who also paid tribute to the work done behind the scene by Kenny Farrell and Padraic De Burca.

Speaking exclusively to Tribune Sport at the launch on Thursday night, Fran Gavin, the Director of the Bus Éireann Women’s National League, said an invitation had been sent out to enter a Galway side in the initial league back in 2011, but that it was felt locally that the time wasn’t right to make that commitment.

“They said at the time that while there was plenty of talent locally, the players were still quite young, and they wanted time to develop them, but they would come back to us when they felt the time was right.

“True to their word, here they are tonight to launch the new side and enter the league, and we’re delighted to have them,” he said, adding that the Galway side “creates a proper platform for players in the area to develop”.

Speaking exclusively to Tribune Sport after the launch, Gavin admitted that the ideal scenario would be for Galway WFC and the proposed new Airtricity League ‘Galway FC’ side would combine to form an all-inclusive club for the city and county.

“That would make it much easier to market, and it would make sense, yes, to have the two sides under the umbrella of one club. If you want to develop a true community club, then catering for all sections is crucial, and the women’s game would be a big part of that.

“It is probably something for the future, but it is a template followed by clubs throughout Europe, and Shamrock Rovers  have a similar structure here in Ireland,” he said.

Season tickets cost €50, and are available – along with sponsorship information – from Kieran O’Mahony on 087 2562184; Stephen Moran on 087 8389750; or Padraic De Burca on 086 6089511.