Wexford Youths: Successful Past And A Bright Future

Wexford Youths are the most successful club the FAI Women’s National League’s history and are enjoying another great season this time round. The club’s media officer Ronan McCarthy spoke to Impetus editor Ben Gilby about the club, its development and their aims.

Photo above: Wexford Youths.

Wexford Youths are one of the most successful teams in the FAI Women’s National League. They were founder members of the competition for its inaugural 2011/12 season.

“The Women’s National League is now in its tenth year, and there have been a core group of three clubs that have played every season – Wexford Youths, Peamount United and Cork City.  Shelbourne also trace their lineage to Raheny United, who were also in the debut season,” Ronan explained.

“Wexford, Peamount and Shelbourne have mostly shared the silverware in the years since then, and it is another exciting three-way battle for the league this year.  In recent seasons the league has expanded to include new clubs, in Treaty United, Bohemians and Athlone Town.”

“Wexford Youths have seen great success in the years since then thanks to an incredible generation of players, including Kylie Murphy, Rianna Jarrett, Claire O’Riordan, Ciara Rossiter, Lauren Dwyer, Edel Kennedy and Aisling Frawley,” highlighted Ronan.

Above: Kylie Murphy, one of Wexford Youths’ long term stars. Photo: Wexford Mirror.

“We won the Women’s National League four times in its first 10 years of competition, a record unmatched by any club in the league.  We’re continuing our challenge this year, being in the title mix for the 2021 season, with an exciting generation of young players coming through the ranks in the shape of Ellen Molloy, Aoibheann Clancy and Della Doherty.”

This season comes amidst the struggles of the coronavirus pandemic. Ronan outlined how the past sixteen months or so have impacted the club.

“We badly missed our fans during the matches played behind closed doors.  We have a large community of supporters who have a close relationship to our players, and their support was greatly missed during that period.

“We received great support from our sponsors and the FAI in carrying on our league campaign safely and sustainably, and we are pleased to think of that period being behind us now.”

With it looking like there is light at the end of the covid tunnel, Ronan highlighted the other challenges that the club are looking to meet head on off the pitch.

“A major challenge is to expand our fan base, and spread the enjoyment of women’s football to a wider number of society in County Wexford.  Our years of success have certainly helped our exposure in a local sense, and we hope that our hard work in match live streaming has also assisted that process.  However there is certainly more to do, and now that fans can return to matches we hope to really increase attendances for the remainder of this year.”

With the league approaching the half way mark, Ronan is clear about the club’s aims for the campaign: “Our players are well used to success in this league, and they will be aiming to bring the league title back to Ferrycarrig Park in 2021.  We know that Peamount and Shelbourne have also strengthened their squads, and it will be an exciting three-way battle.  We also have a good record of success in the Women’s FAI Cup, and our players will always target silverware for the club.”

It’s far from all about the first team at Wexford though, as Ronan highlighted the player pathway with exists at the Youths: “We were proud to launch a new academy system this August, from U13 to U15 level.  We also enter teams in the U17 and U19 national leagues.  We have excellent relationships with local clubs, and we are proud to further the development of the young players coming from local clubs like North End, St. Leonards, and many more.  I believe we have somewhere in the region of 60 players at Wexford Youths Women from the U17, U19 and senior teams.”

Those sixty players rely on the support of a group of valued volunteers at the club, with Ronan pointing to the work of two people in particular.

“We are always hugely grateful for the work of Eddie Cullen and Tom Dunne, who have kept the club ticking over from the very beginning.  They are hugely important in preparing the kit, equipment, and logistics of the club.”

The conversation ended by looking at the women’s game more widely in the Republic of Ireland. From a WNL perspective, Ronan sees some really positive developments.

Above: Wexford Youths’ young star Ellen Molloy (right). Photo: Kilkenny People.

“The national league has a strong presence in the Irish Women’s National Team, and the domestic leagues are vital for the progression of young women in football.

“We hope the introduction of women’s football livestreaming to LOITV.ie will help promote the profile of women’s football to the wider Irish football fan base, as this will be a huge contributor to the success of women’s football as a whole.”

The future, for Ronan is bright both at Wexford Youths, and internationally for the Repubic of Ireland:

“We are bringing through an exciting new generation of players, and we are hugely excited for their development in the years to come.  Ellen Molloy, Aoibheann Clancy and Della Doherty are already playing a role in the National teams at senior and U19 level, and I am sure they will be an integral part of the senior teams in the years to come.”

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