Sue Ronan, Martin O'Neill - Launch

With all the summers focus being on that of the amazing achievements of Dave Connell’s Under 19’s women’s football team in Norway and the positive results of Sue Ronan’s senior’s side, who are in real contention for a runners-up spot in their World Cup qualifying group. The league launch this week in The Aviva Stadium saw the media spotlight on the Women’s National League, which kicks off this coming weekend.

After three season of the national league a new sponsor has come on board for the foreseeable future. The German automotive company Continental Tyres became the new official partner of the Women’s National League this week. The league which will consist of seven teams this coming campaign will now be known as the Continental Tyres Women’s National League.

Numerous media outlets gathered in the FAI suite in the Aviva Stadium in Dublin as various dignitaries from within the FAI and women’s football were present at the launch to celebrate the game and promote the coming season. Both senior managers from the women and men’s side were also in attendance. Sue Ronan and Martin O’Neill brought some glamour and charisma to the occasion in the national stadium.

Spokeswoman from UEFA Emma Sykes was also part of the party that spoke at the launch. Emma works as a development officer for the women’s game with UEFA. Speaking at the launch, she said, “the professionalism and quality of this league has grown over the last four years, Continental, UEFA and women’s football are not strangers, we have worked together across the Irish Sea. The partnership will help with grassroots and continue the development of football in Ireland. This is an exciting new chapter in women’s football and we are happy to support it at UEFA “.
Spokesman for the FAI and the man that is in charge of the premier domestic leagues here in Ireland Fran Gavin was also present at the launch this week. “ Week by week, month by month you can see that the players are improving, the standards are improving, it is also great to see some of the younger players from a few years ago making a step-up, not only a step-up in the league, but at international level also”.

Mr Gavin pointed to the recent success of the U 19’s and the emergence of such talents like Katie McCabe and Clare Shine. He also highlighted Stephanie Roche’s wonder goal that became an internet sensation last year as a great endorsement of the quality player that the league can produce. Mr Gavin also touched on the Women’s FAI Cup and how through negotiations between the CEO of the FAI and the relevant people at RTE, the women’s showcase final will again be screened on RTE this winter, live from the Aviva Stadium.

Fran Gavin finished his address at the launch by making a special thank you to the many volunteers at the various clubs that help with the running of a club on match-day and all the work that goes on behind the scenes. He also reserved an honourable mention for two special women in Irish football. Only two women have their UEFA Pro-Licence in Ireland, Eileen Gleeson of the UCD Waves is just completing her coaching licence and the senior women’s manager Sue Ronan is the only other woman to currently hold one.

It was only fitting that the Irish women’s manager was on hand to share a few words. “Our international squads are reaping the awards of having our best players play in the Women’s National League, in which they train and play against the best player’s week in, week out”. It is heartening for me to know that there are a lot of quality young players coming through the ranks; they will give me plenty of selection headaches in the coming years. Headaches I actually don’t mind having “.

Women's National League Clubs

So with all the promo shots done and all the new deals wrapped up. The talking can finally stop and the most important people in the league, (the players themselves) can finally get down to playing the game they all love.
Trish Fennelly, ( Cork City Women’s )Kylie Murphy, ( Wexford Youths ) Ruth Fahey, ( Galway WFC ) Clare Kinsella, ( Peamount United ) Emma Hansberry, ( Castlebar Celtic ) Orlagh Nolan ( UCD Waves ) and Rebecca Creagh ( Raheny United ) were all present at the launch alongside club representatives.

Wexford Youths will kick-off against Cork City Women’s, while two games will take place in Dublin. Jackson Park in the Dublin Mountains will see the first league game of the newly formed UCD Waves as they entertain Galway WFC AND their new manager Don O’Riordan. Champions Raheny United start the defence of their title against Castlebar Celtic, a side that always put up a strong performance against the champions.

All matches will be played this Sunday.

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