MISTAKES are common in football, so for the players, it’s mostly about how they react to that adversity.
Strikers miss goal-scoring chances, midfielders misplace key passes, and defenders often lose the opponent they are supposed to mark closely.
But the problem for goalkeepers, more so than their teammates, is that when they make a mistake, it usually leads to the concession of a goal.
“I just need to learn from it and move on,” Cork City’s Abby McCarthy tells The Echo, reflecting on the error she made recently.
The City number one was caught in possession in front of her own goal, allowing Shelbourne’s Emily Whelan to roll in the opener at Turner’s Cross after just four minutes.
“I know I can’t get caught with the ball and I need to make sure it doesn’t happen again. It won’t happen again!” says McCarthy. “I was devastated, but I left it in that moment and that was important. I have learned from it.
“That is the risk of playing out from the back. Shelbourne have an extremely high press so it can happen. I need to become more comfortable with it, get used to it, and improve.”
Shels ultimately won 3-0 but it would have been much, much worse had it not been for the young shot-stopper, who made a string of unbelievable saves throughout.
Her strength of character to respond to that early mistake and the calibre of her stops has rightly earned her many plaudits as she looks to stay ahead of fellow netminder Leah Hayes Coen in the battle to replace Maria O’Sullivan, who vacated the role during the off-season.
McCarthy and Hayes Coen, aged 18 and 17 respectively, will play a lot of minutes this year though, thanks to the introduction of the U19 league.
“We knew Shelbourne would be tough. It wasn’t ideal to go down 1-0 like we did so early on but we kept going and I think I recovered well,” adds the Limerick native.
“I was pretty happy with my first two performances. There is a lot to fix but I think I have made a good start to the season.
“My decision-making on the ball can be better but I’ll keep working on it. I hope people think I have stepped up.
Stepping in for Maria — she was a very good goalie and the captain — is tough to do.
“I learned a lot from just watching her and she is a lovely person. Even though she is in America, she still sends me text messages saying well done. She was a great keeper to work with and learn from last season.
“I would love to keep starting for this team but also the U19s is hopefully starting up soon so I will be getting a lot of game-time anyway, which is nice.
“Rónán has told us if we don’t start for the seniors one weekend we will at least get game time and experience with the 19s. It’s a great stepping stone, that league, because there was a big gap between the U17s and the seniors. It’s a massive difference in the quality of play and the speed of it so it’s great that the U19s is coming in.”
For all the saves McCarthy made against Shelbourne, arguably none compare to the double save she made away to Galway, which was almost as crucial to earning them a 3-3 draw on the opening weekend of the season as Becky Cassin’s stunning equaliser.
Now, her hope is to help City start winning games, with the next match away to Bohemians on Saturday in her sights. “The first save I probably could’ve caught but I was happy with the second save,” she admits.
“My goalkeeping coach is always on me to get up after the first save, get up quickly, and that is all that went through my mind when it was happening, just get up and that’s half the job done. It’s something we’ve done in training, just reacting, and it felt pretty cool to do it in a match. To get a draw against Galway was a good result for us in the end.
“We have had patches of pretty good play so far this season but we can improve a lot more and I think we will over the course of the season.
“We are all still so young, we have so much to learn, and we are all willing to learn. We will keep working hard to improve. Now, we are looking to win matches and get on the board properly,” she adds.