Ruthless Peamount at peak of powers as they seek revenge on Wexford Youths in repeat of 2018 final
It might be strike one to Wexford Youths following their victory in last year's FAI Cup final, but Peamount United showed they are the form team this year with a stunning 8-1 title-winning display against Cork City last week. A repeat of that form would see them complete the league and cup double, but the Wexford girls will have something to say about that.
Cup football is replete with stories of favourites falling at the final hurdle and the thought struck me at Greenogue last week that perhaps Peamount had shown their hand too soon, but manager James O'Callaghan dismissed that idea: "No, they've been playing like that all season, so Wexford know what we are capable of. The big difference this year is that we are more consistent. Last year, reaching the final, the girls were just happy to be there. This is the one they wanted."
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In the past, Peamount have lost their key players to other teams, but the present squad have been together a long time, some from under-13, while eight of them came through from the under-16 team that was managed by O'Callaghan. He has nothing but the height of praise for them, pointing to the inclusion of players from Clare, Mullingar and Leitrim, who all travelled as schoolgirls for training every Tuesday and Thursday.
Even though they lost international striker Amber Barrett mid-season to a German club (FC Köln), all their hard work is paying off this year. O'Callaghan has his side playing an expansive, passing game, in which every player has a number of options in possession because of the wonderful support system in place. Add to that the fantastic set-piece deliveries of Megan Smyth Lynch, an inspired capture from Shelbourne, and you have a match-winning team in full flow.
Last week's game against Cork was a good example, as striker Eleanor Ryan Doyle grabbed four goals, including an eight-minute hat-trick, and Smyth Lynch's excellent left-footed crosses yielded three goals from her first six corners - two headed home by Ryan Doyle and the third sailing all the way to the net.
For someone who normally plays as a Number 10, Ryan Doyle displayed clinical finishing up front, and an ability to mix it with bigger players.
She played with the boys until under-12 and readily admits "that's where I got my base of physicality, and my foundations in the game. I was always playing a year ahead with the girls."
She adds: "The Cup would be a good end to the season, but it would be a bonus after winning the league."
Capped at under-15, 16, 17 and 19, and called up to two senior camps without being capped, today's match is the perfect shop window for Doyle to remind Irish manager Vera Pauw that she has the game required for the top level.
Last year, Wexford dug deep to win the game by 1-0. With players such as international striker Rianna Jarrett, Nicola Sinnott, Ciara Rossiter and captain Kylie Murphy in their ranks, they are no push-overs, while under-17 star Blessing Kingsley is also likely to make an impact if called on. Still, I'll settle for the Peas.
Peamount v Wexford Youths, RTé2, 12.05
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