The official launch of our latest partnership with Dundalk Credit Union took place in the Enda McGuill Suite at Oriel Park on Monday night.
Dundalk FC and Dundalk Credit Union have a long history of collaboration, and this latest venture sees the local member-owned financial cooperative become the club’s Women’s Football Patron and Community Sustainability partners.
Dundalk FC chief operating officer Martin Connolly, Dundalk Credit Union chairperson Bernadette Farrell, CEO Billy Doyle, women’s football technical consultant with FIFA, Sue Ronan, and Dundalk Credit Union board member – and one of the driving forces behind the formation of the Louth Schoolgirls League – Frankie Watters all spoke at the event.
“Dundalk Credit Union and Dundalk Football Club have a long history of collaboration over the years,” said Dundalk Credit Union chairperson Bernadette Farrell.
“We have much in common in the way we approach helping to develop our local communities and we’re really excited to support Dundalk FC’s multi-year plan for the development of women’s football and the development of enhanced community sustainability initiatives for the benefit of our shared communities.”
In his address, Connolly said the partnership would help Dundalk FC achieve its goal of developing a senior team to play in the SSE Airtricity Women’s Premier Division in the next three years.
“Women’s football is growing in popularity and status with increasing participation, professionalism and media attention across the world,” he said
“As a club, we are in the second year of a five-year plan, and we are ahead of schedule in regard to fielding teams in both the EA Sports LOI Academy WU17 and WU19 League. In the next three years, we hope to see a Dundalk FC team competing in the SSE Airtricity Women’s Premier Division.
“None of these goals are achievable without investment and support and off the pitch, we need willing partners and we look forward to continuing to work together with Dundalk Credit Union to strengthen and develop women’s football in Dundalk and to develop and implement community sustainability projects that will benefit the local community that we both share.”
As part of the partnership, Dundalk Credit Union’s logo features on the front of the Dundalk FC WU17 and WU19 teams that compete in the EA SPORTS LOI Academy.
A number of the club’s academy players and coaches, along with Dundalk FC head of women’s football Bernard Freeman, academy director Derek Boyle and head of football operations Brian Garland were present for the launch.
They were joined by Robbie Corr (chairperson) Rachael Gaughran (secretary) and Val Fitzpatrick (treasurer) from the Louth Schoolgirls League along with Mick Neville, the FAI’s development officer for Louth.
Current Women’s National League players – and Dundalk natives – Sophie Watters (Shelbourne) and Lynn Craven (Bohemians) were on hand to demonstrate the pathway that now exists for girls from underage to senior level.
International football was also represented by Bristol City’s Chloe Mustaki, a member of the Republic of Ireland WNT squad that secured qualification to this summer’s World Cup in Australia. To mark the team’s historic achievement, Chloe was presented with a gift of appreciation by Frankie Watters.
Dundalk FC WU17 academy goalkeeper Laura Fanning was also presented with her international cap, which she received after representing the Republic of Ireland’s WU16 team recently.
“Dundalk Credit Union is, thankfully, one of the biggest credit unions in the country and that is largely the case because of the sterling work put in by women over the past 50 years,” said Dundalk Credit Union CEO Billy Doyle.
“I think it’s very fitting that as we revitalise and restructure our partnership with Dundalk FC over the coming years that an association with women’s football is a large and front and centre component of that.”
His words were echoed by Frankie Watters, who revealed that 1,100 girls have started playing football across Co Louth since the inception of the Louth Schoolgirls League in 2017.
“The future of football is female,” he said. “It is as simple as that. That is where football is going to move forward and after the World Cup this summer, I think we will see that to a much greater extent. The potential is there, as everyone in this room knows.
“From a Dundalk Credit Union perspective, women’s football was an ideal fit. We went that route, and we are now the main sponsors of the Louth Schoolgirls League.
“We know that the girls playing in the LSGL will progress and move on and that progression is to the WU17 and WU19 teams at Dundalk and the logical thing was to follow that on and become the main sponsor of the women’s teams at Oriel Park, and we look forward to the development of a senior women’s team in due course.”
For more news and information about Dundalk Credit Union, visit www.dundalkcu.ie