‘IT was a bit of a scramble, nothing spectacular’ – that’s how Claire McSweeney has described her goal that fired Dunmanway Town Women’s team to their first-ever West Cork League (WCL) title.
In a top-of-the-table clash on Sunday McSweeney’s effort was the difference as Dunmanway defeated title rivals Inter Kenmare 1-0 to win the league.
This is Dunmanway’s first WCL Women’s 7s title in their 15 seasons competing.
‘It’s very special for us to win the league,’ title-winning hero McSweeney says.
‘This has always been a bit of craic, going out on a Sunday to play a game, have a bit of fun, and now we’ve won the title for the first time.’
Table-toppers Dunmanway knew the permutations ahead of their crunch clash with second-placed Kenmare – once they avoided defeat, the title was theirs.
McSweeney admits they were nervous in the early stages, but her goal in the 20th minute settled them down.
‘We needed the goal, and I thought we played well then. It was a hard game because Kenmare are such a good side,’ she says.
Dunmanway’s 1-0 win sees them crowned league champions on 35 points after 14 games, four ahead of Kenmare in second place – and the top two meet again on Sunday in the WCL Women’s Cup final. It’s the chance of a dream double for Dunmanway.
‘We have so much fun together as a group,’ McSweeney explains.
‘This is an outlet, a bit of fun, and it means a lot to win because we are out every Sunday playing games, so it’s lovely to win the league and have that to show for it all.’
‘I only started playing last season. I have five kids so I’m late to this,’ she laughs, ‘but we have players like Irene Mawe who has been there since the beginning, Claire Hurley too, so that’s around 2008 since they started.’
McSweeney explains how most of Dunmanway Town’s players also line out with Dohenys’ footballers, and how playing soccer throughout the winter helps keep players’ fitness levels high.
‘I have played football for as long as I can remember, this is just my second soccer season. It was Claire Hurley who said we’ll go and play soccer again this year and it’s worked out better than we could have hoped for,’ McSweeney says.
‘We had no-one training us until a few weeks back when Andrew Healy came on board and he has been great.’
It’s been a team effort for Dunmanway this season and even though Maria Cregan, currently on holidays in Australia, missed last weekend’s league win, her team-mates didn’t forget her. They printed off a photo of Maria for the celebrations afterwards! The hope is that the photo will be used in even more celebrations this Sunday as Dunmanway chases the double.
The title-winning Dunmanway Town squad includes Nora McCarthy, Claire Hurley, Alison Hayes, Aprille Duggan, Ruth Collins, Irene Mawe, Ava O’Donovan, Michelle Murphy, Michelle Love, Claire McSweeney, Maria Cregan, Sharon Mawe, Annie Blewitt, Noelle O’Mahoney and Kathy O’Regan.