FOLLOWING an extended break from Women’s National League soccer, Sarah McKevitt is back, with her new club, Cork City.
“I can’t wait for the first game,” she told the Echo. “It’s been two years since I played a Women’s National League game. It’s been a long time coming back, so I’m just buzzing for it now.”
Despite being only 22, the attacker has enjoyed a successful few years with Peamount United, a brief stint with Wexford Youths, and a number of underage appearances with the Republic of Ireland.
Studying for her primary-school teaching degree, at Maynooth University — she will complete it in the next few months — led to her break from the sport and the pandemic extended it.
But a phonecall from City manager, Rónán Collins, and the opportunity to play closer to her home, in Tipperary, was too good an offer to turn down.
“When I was moving from Peamount and I was looking for a different club, it was really Cork City that I was waiting for to contact me,” McKevitt says. “When Rónán rang me, I was delighted and there was no question that I was going to say ‘yes’ to go there.
“Being from Munster, I feel like I should be playing for a club in Munster and Tipp doesn’t have a team, so, obviously, that’s not an option. It’s nice to be playing with a club that’s a bit more local to me.”
While her soccer career was on hold, McKevitt’s GAA involvement flourished. Last year, she played a key role in helping her club, Thurles Sarsfields, achieve major success in both camogie and football. Having lost one dual star from last season, in Saoirse Noonan, City may have just gained another, in McKevitt, who is likely to keep playing with the Tipperary ladies’ footballers in 2021.
“The break probably worked out in my favour,” McKevitt says. “I won a camogie county final and a football county final with my club, so I was happy enough. At the minute, I will play both sports, but because it’s ideal, at the moment, that Tipp, and the GAA in general, isn’t back, so I can focus more on Cork City. I can go to their training sessions and do the running and gym programmes with Tipp in my own time, then.
“It’s not a problem yet, but we’ll see,” McKevitt says. “Now, I’m just loving being back training. It’s been a while since I had actual training in real life, with real people, so it’s great to be back and interact with all the girls. It’s what I think I need during all this.”
McKevitt wants to help City improve on last season’s fourth-place finish in the league and go one step further in the FAI Cup (in which they lost to Peamount United in the final). McKevitt was rooting for The Peas then. Now her allegiance is with City and she is hoping to help them progress in the upcoming campaign.
“I saw them in the final against Peamount. They had a good first half, but, obviously, things just didn’t go their way in the second half, unfortunately,” says McKevitt. “At the time, I guess I was egging Peamount on; I was hoping they would go on and do the double.
“It was actually afterwards that I was considering coming back and playing in the Women’s National League and I thought I needed a change.
Cork was the change I needed.
“They had a great season really, though. They’re always progressing and I know, from playing against them, they’re never an easy team to play against. They’re a very hard-working team and I like that about them. There’s no giving up with them and that appeals to me,” McKevitt says.
“I’m a very attacking player, so, hopefully, I can score them a few more goals, get a few more wins this year, finish in the top four, maybe the top three, if we could, and look to get into finals and win finals. Personally, I just want to enjoy the game again. There were two years there when I was probably more stressed playing football.”