THERE are currently three sides in the Women’s National League who remain without a win so far and two of them go head-to-head on Saturday evening when Cork City make the long trip to Athlone Town.
It’s very early days of course but this fixture — set for a 7pm kick-off, streamed live and for free on LOITV.ie — presents both sides with a massive opportunity to kick start their seasons.
Athlone lie second from bottom in eighth place having drawn one and lost two of their opening three games while City are just one point and one place ahead of their upcoming opponents but they have also played one game more.
The Leesiders were narrowly beaten last time out with Jess Gleeson’s first-half free-kick ensuring DLR Waves left Turner’s Cross with the three points.
It’s a game that manager Rónán Collins and his staff analysed thoroughly at the beginning of this week as his side looks to right the wrongs ahead of their journey to Westmeath.
“There were a lot of positives to take from it,” he said.
We are not happy with the result but we always focus on the performance. We nearly hit 500 passes, we had a 75% pass completion as well and that’s extremely impressive.
“There are other figures we haven’t hit in the past that we are starting to get towards but obviously we need to start putting other bricks on top of them and results will come then on the back of the performance.
“The thing about football is that it comes down to moments and there were just moments in that game we needed to be a bit stronger on, primarily the defending of that free-kick.
“We were happy with elements of the performance but there is stuff we need to do better but we have a strong foundation in place.”
Athlone were 10 minutes away from earning an extremely valuable point away to Wexford Youths last weekend but a Kylie Murphy penalty saw the title challengers snatch the win.
They would battle until the end even though they had Muireann Devanney and Fiona Owens sent off, leaving Collins in no doubt about the tough test his side will face.
“It was another week where we need to get the head down and try to put one foot in front of the other and build for the challenge ahead,” he added.
“Athlone have been very hungry, they play with loads of energy and they have always been a team that we have found quite difficult to play against because they try to upset team’s rhythm.
“We need to consolidate the good stuff we did last weekend and build on it. If we can do that I have no doubt a positive performance will equate to a positive result.
“But we have to put that in place, Athlone will not make that easy for us. They will set up to frustrate and work hard but we have our eyes wide open for the challenge they are going to pose at the weekend.”
City will still be without a number of key players but Collins is buoyed by the return of the experienced Katie McCarthy, who featured for the first time this season against Waves, although he admits they will be cautious about the minutes she plays.
“Sophie Liston is getting closer, this weekend will probably be too soon for her,” he confirmed. “Zara Foley and Nathalie (O’Brien) will still be another while. Sarah McKevitt, we will assess during the week but if she’s not back this weekend she hopefully will be back the weekend after.
“Hopefully Katie McCarthy has no reaction to the few minutes she played last weekend and she might be available to play again. Katie’s is a tendonitis injury so it might just flare up and then you have got to let it come back down and try to build it up again, you try to build it up slowly.
“She played about 15 minutes last weekend so if there’s no reaction to that we know 15 minutes is good for her again and we could maybe give her a bit more. But if there is a reaction, we’ll have to cut it back.
“It’s not just game by game it’s also training session by training session, it’s about building it up slowly but she is getting back there.
“She is our most experienced player, she has played in most seasons in the league and tactically she is probably the most aware as well so to have that will make a huge difference for us.”