WALKING up as National League champions on Saturday morning and realising you created history in the club is a feeling that the Treaty United U17 team won’t forget for a long time, if ever.
A fantastic end to a superb season and for four Cork people involved in the squad, it was one of the highlights of their career to date.
Manager Craig Hurley, coach Rachel Harty and key players Alix Mendez and Heidi O’Sullivan, with the latter captaining the side, all agreed that it was a special moment beating Dublin side Peamount in Athlone on Friday evening.
Having already lost to their Dublin opposition during the season, Hurley and his side wanted revenge and no better way to get it than in the National league final as they ran out 3-2 victors with a brace from Aine Walsh and a goal from Kelsey Wing.
The scenes at Athlone stadium were electric at the final whistle but credit to the huge support who created a superb atmosphere from start to finish which no doubt acted as a 12th player for the team. And again, this was down to the committee in the club who really pushed this game and urged for people to come out and support what proved to be a historic night for the club, winning their first bit of silverware.
More history was made on Friday night as both Cork girls Mendez and O’Sullivan are the only two players in the country that have won the U17 National league more than once since it began in 2018. Both starred for Cork City last season where they won the title and both were thrilled to win it back again this season but this time for their new club Treaty United.
Both players are part of an incredible squad who have been excellent all season winning 10, drawn three and losing just three. They finished as the highest-scoring team and kept an unbeaten home record.
The squad is made up of players from Cork, Limerick, Clare and Tipperary led by manager Hurley, who hails from Shanakiel in Cork. Thrilled to be part of such an incredible squad, here he tells us what the win means to all involved.
“What an achievement for a club that’s only two years old,” said Hurley. "To be the champions of Ireland in my first season as a league of Ireland manager is the proudest moment in my whole sporting career.
“I must give huge credit to the staff Rachel Harty, Seamus Feehan, Rose Benson, Amy Costello, Shannon Lewis and Niamh Fogarty, the work they have put in this season has been unbelievable and really helped the players to get to this moment. I’m very lucky to have them behind me.
"The club and committee have been unbelievable but I must mention Kim Nix and Fianait Mitchell from the women’s committee because they have been unbelievable and have put in some work to make sure we have not wanted for anything.
“It’s brilliant to have won it with Rachel, Heidi and Alix being from Cork. Heidi and Alix are actually history-makers being the first two players to have won the U17 elite league twice.
"Heidi still has a chance of winning her third one next season. To have my own girls Keela and Ali there was phenomenal. Hearing your kids tell you how proud you make them is literally the best feeling ever.
“We have most of this squad back next season which will give us a great chance of defending our title too. With seven girls still having two more years playing 17s is a great position for the club to be in.”
How great was it having so many Cork people involved with the squad?
“I didn’t know Rachel at the start of the season but we just hit it off once introduced to each other and she is a fantastic assistant to have. Rach put a lot of commitment with us in particular while she plays with Cork camogie.
"She will have a bright future in the game and no doubt she will be getting offers to manage a team soon. She also got her B license this year too during the season with us.
“Heidi and Alix, on the other hand, I knew really well and once I got the job they were quickly identified as two key players who could make a big difference and would suit the style of play.
"Heidi came in as captain and finished the season as the club's top goal scorer on the women’s side and second in the league's top-scorer. Alix played a lot of time at full back up to this season where we changed her to a winger and Alix scored lots more goals and added assists to her already impressive performances.
"I’ve known both girls for well over five years now so it was really nice to share that moment together. It was a fantastic season for all involved and now we look forward to a little break before we start planning again for next season.”