Teams of the decade: Cork women's soccer has a host of great players

Teams of the decade: Cork women's soccer has a host of great players
Wilton's Zoe Murphy made our Cork women's soccer team of the decade. Picture: Gavin Browne

WHAT a horrible job I got from the sports editor, it nearly spoiled my Christmas!

I have been given the task of picking the best women’s soccer selection from a 10-year period.

Selecting a team over 10 years was a difficult task, and I know I will probably fall out with people and become unpopular with others for my choices.

I apologise to those who don’t make my team, but it’s just my opinion. I have picked players who have played within the past 10 years, regardless of how long they actually played for.

Patrice Kearney, Wilton, battles with Megan Connolly, College Corinthians, in 2013. Picture: Jim Coughlan.
Patrice Kearney, Wilton, battles with Megan Connolly, College Corinthians, in 2013. Picture: Jim Coughlan.

As you will see by my choices, some girls may have only played one senior year while others have played senior for the entire 10 years. I tried to pick the best players from the past 10 years. So here are the best XI, in my opinion, over the past decade.

The goalkeeping position was a relatively easy choice as there wasn’t a whole lot to choose from — although saying that, second choice Claire O’Donoghue from Riverstown has also been excellent over the years.

However, the nod simply has to go to Douglas Hall’s Linda McNamara.

Her presence between the posts for Hall has been a fear of many of the top clubs and she has been their key player for many a season.

Her ability to make great saves over the years has earned her a place on this team.

I am going with three at the back for this selection, and picking the defence was a more difficult task because, in truth, there were about seven players I could have picked for this position.

Aoife Kelliher, Zoe Murphy, Emma McCarthy, Sue Kelleher, Ciara O’Connell, Sue Edmunds, and Kathleen O’Brien were all great candidates.

However, I went with Murphy,Kelleher, and McCarthy who were all consistently excellent throughout the years. Murphy and Kelleher are Wilton stars, while McCarthy has been solid for Douglas Hall.

The midfield is a mixture of girls who have played in the league a long time alongside those who may have starred for just a year at senior level — but most important was their quality. 

Barbara O’Connell has played at senior level for a remarkable 25 years and remains one of the key players in the league as she continues to star for Wilton.

Wilton United's Barbara O'Connell.
Wilton United's Barbara O'Connell.

Her penchant for hard tackling and her eye for a pass, as well as her trademark drag-back, has earned her the number-eight slot in the middle of the park.

Denise O’Sullivan — a former Wilton player who now plies her trade with North Carolina Courage in America — was recently voted in the top 100 players in the world.

Denise always showed huge potential, even while playing in the CWSSL.

Alongside both O’Connell and O’Sullivan, I chose current Brighton player Megan Connolly.

Formerly of College Corinthians, Megan was their key player while playing in the Cork league and it’s great to see her develop into the superb athlete she is today.

To complete a very strong outfit across the middle, on the wings I went with Wilton’s Amy O’Connor and Ericka O’Sullivan.

O’Connor now concentrates on starring for Cork with camogie, but she was a massive talent in her days as a soccer player.

O’Sullivan was one of the best left-footers ever produced in Cork. She was a player who would adapt to any position on the field.

Up front, I went with Douglas Hall’s Michelle O’Driscoll and Wilton’s Susan Edmunds.

Once again, this was a pretty tough call to make, as there were many players who could have made the squad.

Although O’Driscoll only played for a year at senior level, she was a key player for The Hall and a superb finisher.

Edmunds (below) was a player who could play anywhere on the pitch, and was a superb header of the ball.

Douglas Hall’s Eileen Ring was a key player in her time, while Riverstown’s Emma Coughlan has produced some great goals over the years.

In recent times, another star has been Wilton’s Melissa Finn. Finn has been Wilton’s key goalscorer for the past two seasons and has complimented her goals return with an outstanding work rate. Both have been a joy to watch.

Clare Shine was another player unlucky not to make the cut. She had a brief spell as a senior and may have been a bit too young at the time to make such an impact at senior level.

As I said, there were some hard calls to make.

Players like Aoife Kelleher, Laura Lynch, Eileen Ring, Shannon Carson, Lauren Murphy, Claire O’Donoghue, Donna Horgan, Stacey Paul, Ciara McNamara, and Nathalie O’Brien can all count themselves unlucky to miss out.

CORK WOMEN'S SOCCER: Linda McNamara (Douglas Hall); Sue Kelleher, Zoe Murphy (Wilton), Emma McCarthy (Douglas Hall); Amy O’Connor, Barbara O’Connell, Denise O’Sullivan, Ericka O’Sullivan (all Wilton); Megan Connolly (College Corinthians), Michelle O’Driscoll, (Douglas Hall), Susan Edmunds (Wilton).

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