With the FAI Women’s National League season concluding last weekend, Impetus sponsored striker Carla McManus of DLR Waves, who finished in fourth place in Ireland’s top tier – their best-ever finish – reviewed her season with Ben Gilby and looked ahead to 2022.
Above: Carla jumps for joy after scoring for DLR Waves earlier this season. Photo supplied by: DLR Waves
It’s been a dramatic season in the FAI WNL with the title race between Shelbourne and Peamount United only decided in the second half of the final match of the season. Just behind the top two was DLR Waves, who recorded a club-best fourth-place finish.
The Waves’ top scorer was Impetus sponsored Carla McManus, who has represented the Republic of Ireland at U16, U17 and U19 level. It’s been a particularly memorable season for her.
“It’s been a great year with college, football, and turning 21. A massive difference to 2020 where I couldn’t play and was only coming back from injury, it’s a great feeling to get a full season under my belt. Looking back on the year it’s been predominantly good memories. Obviously, a few losses in football but overall, massive improvements are being made.”
The season was hugely exciting in the FAI WNL, and Carla gave her opinion of an incredible title race and identified what she thinks DLR Waves need to do in order to challenge next time around.
“I think that the league is a lot closer than it was in previous years, with all teams putting in some big performances and a few shock results. For ourselves, we wanted to get into the top three or four on the table and we accomplished fourth position with three games to go. But we definitely are capable of beating the top three teams, I feel we need to capitalize on our chances and be more clinical in finishing them. The results against the top three have always been fine margins, which is frustrating. To break into the top three we need to beat those sides regularly, which I know, at our strongest, we can do.”
“For me personally, I feel that I have had a good season, I stayed fit for it all apart from a few dodgy ankle moments but overall I’m delighted to actually be able to play this year. I’ve scored eight goals, I would have liked a few more but that’ll be my aim for next year.
I think I have improved with my link-up play with midfielders and my runs into the box, I’m in the right position in the box so it’s only a matter of time until the crosses find me and fall to me in the right areas. I will continue to work on these things and also just being more direct and confident in myself to carry the ball to bring back how I used to play pre-injury.
“It’s still a mental battle and there’s more in me that I feel has been a bit held back because of my injury in the back of my mind but it’s something I’ll definitely work on!”
For Carla one of the major reasons behind the continuing improvement at DLR Waves is the atmosphere on and off the pitch.
“Waves are a very professional club, we try to do everything as if we were a professional team. The competition is high and nobody is guaranteed a place, you work for your place and that’s an atmosphere you will thrive in, which I love.
“The club is a very comfortable and happy place to be, we are all rooting for each other and building together. The craic off the pitch is great, we have a great laugh and everybody gets on well. There is a great hype around the training grounds too, when somebody does something good we all hype each other.”
Carla spoke of how she has appreciated the support of Impetus this season in terms of sponsorship.
“The sponsorship is great for exposure. Impetus are really nice and it’s great that they are supporting me and DLR from afar. It’s good to know that there’s a group of people outside the FAI WNL circle rooting for me and the team and clapping for our successes. It gives a chance for WNL exposure over in the UK and further afield.”
It is not just the FAI WNL that has been making great strides this season, the Republic of Ireland women’s national team has been awarded equal pay with their male counterparts. Something which has been a long time coming, as Carla reflected.
“I know that the senior women have gone from struggling with keeping their travelling gear and tracksuits to getting equal pay. I think that speaks volumes for the steps being made to more equality between men and women in Irish football. There is a long way to go and we need a lot more support at our games from supporters of football to get anywhere near the men’s game. But it’s improving bit by bit.”
With the 2021 season now over, Carla turned her thoughts to the New Year and what she wants to achieve over the next few months.
“I am beyond excited for off-season training. I will be working with strength and conditioning coach John Sullivan and a nutrition coach to get better in the offseason, John will help me with the gym and the gym is my happy place when I’m not on the pitch so I’m really looking forward to working there to enhance my on-pitch performance.
“I am also in contact with a nutrition coach to get the best out of my gym programs. Going into pre-season in January I will be strong, fit, and buzzing to go.”