WU19 coach Jason McConville is hoping that the general public will come out and support his side in this Sunday’s LOI WU19 Cup semi-final against Shelbourne at Oriel Park.
After entering a women’s team in the LOI WU17 Academy for the first time last year, the club made a late decision to enter a side at U19 level this season and the decision has reaped plenty of rewards.
After taking time to adjust, the U17s are currently joint top of their league section while McConville’s side, who made the step up in age group this season, sit top of their league table and find themselves just one win away from a first-ever women’s cup final.
To do that, they will have to upset the odds and topple Shels, widely regarded as one of the pioneers of women’s football in this country, but after watching Dundalk’s progress over the last two years, McConville said his players were capable of beating anyone.
“We’ve played Shelbourne three times this season,” he said. “We beat them at Oriel Park and they won twice in Dublin. They’re a fabulous football team with internationals like Hannah Healy and Ruby McCarty in their squad but we’re improving and these are the challenges we want. To play against the best in the country is why we’re here.
“It was a little bit of a push going into the U19 league this year because a lot of our team is still eligible to play at U17 level. We have probably surprised a lot of people because of how well we’ve done but any challenge we have ever set for our players, they’ve always answered it and they don’t fear anyone.”
The game gets underway at 3.30pm on Sunday and McConville said it was a great opportunity for the sporting public in Dundalk to witness top-class women’s football on their doorstep.
“The players are there for everyone to see,” he said. “There’s a lot of support from fans and people who love the club but I think we can get more and hopefully, people will come and see exactly how good the players are and what they’re about.
“Women’s football is moving forward and it’s going to be a big part of football clubs in general. It’s going to push on and wouldn’t it be great if we had four or five local players playing in a senior Dundalk women’s team over the next couple of years.”
After seeing their league game against Bohemians postponed last week, the Dundalk squad trained on Wednesday and Thursday night and McConville said his players were fully focussed on the task ahead.
“We were carrying a couple of knocks and niggles last weekend, so, in a funny way, it might have helped us that the game with Bohs was called off,” he said.
“Football has a very sharp habit of making you look very silly, very quickly, and you’ve always got to be on your game and be ready for what’s coming next. I say that to the players every week and I think they’re ready for Sunday.”
LOI WU19 Cup semi-final: Dundalk FC v Shelbourne, Oriel Park – Sunday, October 1st, 3.30pm.