DRINAGH Rangers Women will make West Cork League history this Saturday when they become the first women’s team from the region to play in a Munster competition.
The current leaders of the WCL Women’s 7s League will step into the unknown when they host Limerick outfit Kilmallock United in Round 1 of the Munster FA Women's Junior Cup at Canon Crowley Park (2pm kick-off).
This is a noteworthy occasion for a number of reasons. Not only will Drinagh Rangers Women fly the WCL flag in Munster, but the team will also venture outside of their comfort zone. Drinagh currently enters two teams (A and B) in the local league that is seven-a-side and played on astro-turf, but Saturday’s cup game is 11-a-side and on grass.
‘An email was sent asking if any team wanted to enter the Junior Cup and we thought, with the last two years the team has had and because of Covid and all that, it would be great for them to play in a competition like this,’ manager Mike Doolan explained.
‘All the players are up for it, they’d love to play on grass because it’s something different because we play seven-a-side every Sunday and this is 11-a-side. It’s also a chance to test ourselves against a team from outside the county.
‘We’re an astro team and this is on grass – but there is no grass league in the West Cork League for women’s teams,’ Doolan explains, acknowledging the size of the task ahead of his team this Saturday.
‘It will be a massive challenge. With the weather being as bad as it has been for the last few weeks we couldn't even get on grass for training sessions to work on formations and drills. It’s very hard to train for 11-a-side on astro-turf where there is no full-size astro-turf pitch in West Cork.’
Doolan is also hoping that fans will turn out to support Drinagh Rangers’ history-making team this Saturday.
‘The girls are really looking forward to it, and what might be a novelty for them is if we get support at the match,’ he explained.
‘I would say we are the worst supported team in the club, nobody ever comes in on a Sunday to watch them play. You might have a husband come in to watch or a son or daughter watch their mother play, but that’s about it. It would be massive to get some support in there on Saturday for the girls because the ladies league needs support and it needs to be pushed on. No matter what level, whether it’s underage girls, who get fabulous support every week, or the women's team, we need more support and interest in it.’
Even though the odds are stacked against Rangers this Saturday, against a seasoned team like Kilmallock who play on grass, Doolan is promising they will play ‘the Drinagh way’ and give it their all. If Drinagh win, they will advance to round two and if they are defeated, then they will enter the Shield competition, so there are more chapters to be written in this story.