HAVING won the FAI Women’s senior cup in 2017, Cork City WFC were expected to kick on in 2018 and make a bold bid for league honours and defend their cup title.
That never happened.
City finished 30 points behind league winners Wexford and went out of the cup early, they also lost their manager Frank Kelleher throughout the season and Ronan Collins was brought in.
Although there were positives in some performances, results never improved and several players left the squad, but star defender Danielle Burke can still see some positives from the season just ended.
“The 2018 season was a huge learning curve for us, “ said Burke.
“We obviously didn’t get the results we wanted to during the year but there is no point dwelling on it.
“We learn from our mistakes and we’re going to work extremely hard to minimise them for next season.”
Overall, it was a disappointing season for all involved, however, the 18-year-old Passage native believes the confidence to do well is still in the minds of the players, and that is something that they hope to build on.
“It was a disappointing season, as a team you always want to win silverware and that unfortunately wasn’t the case for us this season.
“It was frustrating because I feel like we performed quite well in games but didn’t get the result we might’ve deserved.
“Going from winning the biggest competition in Ireland to not winning anything was a huge knock for us.
“But I think it’s great that we had the confidence that we could win titles this season, because confidence was a huge issue for us in previous seasons.
“It’s hard to say what went wrong this season but I know our inconsistency cost us a lot.
“It’s hard to keep a team motivated when we know there’s nothing left to win.
“It’s really disheartening when you see all your team working extremely hard week in week out but just not getting results we deserve.
“We struggled in the league this season, there’s no denying it.
“We put out excellent performances against the top teams but couldn’t get the results.
“It’s a huge improvement from a couple of years ago so we have to stay positive and realise that we are progressing.
“But there’s no reward for good performances when you’re not putting points on the board so we need to fix that for next season.
“We had a few new additions this season, a lot of youth and then Savanna McCarthy brought a huge amount of experience to the team.
“I feel everyone settled in well, obviously it’s a huge change for the younger girls but I think they all did super to step up to the plate.
“They all have huge futures ahead so I’m really excited to see what they bring to the team and them develop even more.
“Savanna, in my opinion, was the best signing. In this league you need experience, and she played in the highest league in Scotland and represented Ireland for years, so she was exactly what we needed.
“She brought leadership both on and off the pitch and was a standout this season.
“Danielle Sheehy and Clare Shine (above) were a massive loss to us, both on and off the pitch.
“They are fantastic players and such great characters in the team. At this level though, you have to be able deal with losses like that, so although we were all gutted we had to focus on the season.”
Adjusting to a new manager and new players can take time.
For the CIT Marketing student, having the quality sometimes isn’t enough - time is also important and will play a huge factor when everyone is comfortable with one another.
“Our squad was quite new to each other this season. A lot of new faces, so it takes time to adjust to how each other play.
“The management change was an obstacle for us also, adjusting to new styles etc.
“Of course, it wasn’t easy for the new management either so we all had to work together and try our best to all understand each other.
“Under the circumstances I think the lads did very well this season and they have great plans for us for next season so I trust in them to get us to the top.
“The squad is full of quality and we all get along really well, so we just need to work on clicking together on the pitch and hopefully that’ll help us improve a lot.
“We’re currently in offseason, but we are all training around four times a week by ourselves.
“We then have preseason at the start of January, so we’re all determined to put in hard work to close the gap on the top teams.
“We’re only taking three weeks off for Christmas so there’s huge determination to improve. There are exciting plans for next season so I can’t wait to get started.
“Next season, I’m really hoping we do start winning titles and putting points on the board every week.
“There’s no denying that you enjoy football more when you are winning. I hope we adapt a good style of play, we’re playing at the highest standard in Ireland so need to be playing high-quality football each match.
“I think it’s great that the youth are coming through, the academy and the U17s are great set ups so are helping the girls develop loads.
“As I said before it is a huge step up so not all the girls would be able to go straight into the senior squad so the academy is great for those girls to give them an extra few years to get up to the mark.”
Looking back over the season and on paper seeing how Cork City were so far behind champions Wexford - for Burke, this was disappointing, as on the day there was very little between the sides.
“It’s hard to know that Champions Wexford were 30 points ahead of us. I think the thing about Wexford is that they have the most experience in the league. You can have all the internationals in the world on your team, but when you have a team that all played together for years you’ll always be consistent.
“They not only have experience of the league but they have experience of winning, and it showed this season winning the treble. I don’t think we’re far off the mark, I thought we should’ve won the Shield final against them but unfortunately they just beat us on penalties. We dominated the majority of the 120 minutes so I think that says a lot for us.
“I think we need to regroup and forget about this season. There’s no point dwelling on a bad season, we need to learn from our mistakes and rectify them.
“We need to stay positive and believe in ourselves, there’s a hell of a lot work to do across all areas of the pitch so it won’t be easy but I know we’re well able for it.”