THE Cork Women's and Schoolgirls' Soccer League kicked-off their new season last weekend.
This year, the format of the CWSSL is changed as per the requirements from the FAI to make the age groups the same as the National Cup competitions and to comply with the association’s desire to see summer soccer introduced as soon as possible.
The leagues will run until June, then break for the exams and the holiday period and return in July. The new format sees the U12, U14, U16 and U18 age groups replaced with U11, U13, U15 and U17s.
Along with the above, there is a plan for an U9 league which is due to commence in March. This league will introduce all younger players into team tournaments.
As part of the changes, U17 teams will be allowed two overage players and most clubs will use this rule to keep girls who are 18 playing soccer.
Wilton U17s got off to a great start within the Premier Division with a comfortable 7-0 win over Lakewood, while Carrigaline, Leeside and Riverstown all had wins in the first division.
Chairman, Matt Robinson tells us about the new changes in the league and he welcomes new teams College Corinthians, Avondale, Inishvilla, Kilworth and Skibbereen.
“The new season sees a welcome growth in the number of clubs, 26, participating in all of the CWSSL competitions with approximately 85 teams playing across all age groups,” said Robinson.
“Summer soccer is not a new occurrence for the CWSSL as our senior ladies have been playing over the years from mid-April to September. However, over recent years, the number of clubs and teams have fallen to a low of approximately 10 teams.
“Last year thankfully this increased to 12 and with the change in age from U18 to U17, it is hoped that this will encourage girls from 16 onwards to commit more to their club senior teams.
“As the second largest girls league in the country, it is great to see our growing numbers but as always this brings headaches to not alone our committee but to all our club volunteers.
“Without these hard-working individuals our clubs would not exist and neither would our league so as chairman I am grateful to all involved.”
A busy schedule also sees the Gaynor U15 squad play their second game of the qualifying campaign as they play host to Limerick Desmond this Sunday in Lakewood grounds at 4pm. Here Peter Rowe’s side will be hoping to make it two out of two having comfortably beaten Waterford 4-0 last month.
The new Gaynor format sees the Cork squad hoping to top their group after three games and book themselves a place in the cup competition of the Gaynor Tournament which will be held in the University of Limerick in June.
Cork manager Peter Rowe is confident that his squad have the talent and ability to top their group and thus, play in the cup competition come June.
“These are a fantastic bunch of girls who I believe have what it takes to compete in the top competition and that is the cup,” said Rowe.
A new format this year sees counties having to qualify ppre-Gaynorin order to be placed in either a cup, shield or plate competition at the tournament in June.
Cork kicked-off their campaign last month with a comfortable victory over Waterford and they hope they can continue their good run of form this weekend as they take on Limerick Desmond.
Rowe is happy with the new format and believes it gives the girls an opportunity to see the standard earlier in the season.
“We are now being seeded and as we are one of the strongest counties we’ll probably avoid some of the stronger teams early in the season,” Rowe said.
“To be honest, we are treating these games like competitive friendlies giving the girls a sense of what the standard is like when we get to Gaynor. This year at least the girls are getting a feel of the standard a lot earlier.
“The cup is the competition we will be aiming for. If we come up short then we will obviously give it everything for the shield or plate if that’s the case.
“We need to top our group to be in the cup competition. “We got off to a great start beating Waterford.
“However, we have a tough test this weekend against Limerick Desmond. We are just taking one game at a time and I expect the girls to win every game because I believe they are good enough.
“This is my fourth year involved in Gaynor. I’ve gotten to three finals, winning two however it’s the cup competition that has eluded us.
“I really want to go for this full steam ahead this year. With Ryan O’Neill and Kelly Buckley who came in this year as part of my backroom staff, we all compliment each other really well and that can only be positive for the squad.
“Huge credit is due to the parents and players who show huge commitment and sacrifice a lot to be involved. We have the core of last year’s squad with us this season so I am expecting great things.
“We are looking very strong. We are down to 24 players and the final squad of about 18 or 20 will be finalised after Sunday’s game.
“It’s been difficult to finalise the squad due to the standard of the players.”