So I've made that decision to go and give it my all again and we'll see what happens - Rebecca Creagh on her recent move to Bohemians

Thu, Oct 29 2020

None Credit: Clare McCahill (ETPhotos)

Big things are happening in the last few months for Bohemian’s. This is their first ever season in the Women's National League. They picked up their first ever league point last month against DLR Waves and they played their first ever competitive game in Dalymount Park last weekend.

League stalwart and Dubliner Rebecca Creagh is quite fond of making history herself. She was part of the Raheny United squad for the inaugural Women's National League season in 2011. She was also the first women to climb the steps of the Aviva Stadium and lift the FAI Cup as captain of Raheny United in 2013.

After speaking to Sean Byrne a few months ago, a manager who she knows well and had played under before Creagh knew straight away from the way he spoke that he had big things planned for the Dublin 7 side.

"When I made my decision, once again, earlier in the summer to try and get myself back out onto the pitch, my initial thoughts were to just get myself fit again and up to a level where I felt I could compete again and contribute at WNL level," Creagh said about her Bohemians move.

"Shels have always been at an elite level in every area within the club and I didn't think with where I am at now, that they would need me as much.

"I took the decision having spoken to Sean to sign for Bohs and I am hoping to bring experience, leadership and a few goals as well in what is going to be a completely different challenge for me this season. It will be a battle at the other end of the table, they are in a development stage at Bohs and I found it really exciting to listen to Sean and Pat when I did sit down with them both.

"They spoke about their plans for the club and their exciting plans going forward and that chat helped me make my decision to sign. I played under Sean at Raheny when we won the league and he is a brilliant coach, one of the best in the country.

Having made her league debut in 2011 and broken her foot four times since 2016 the 31-year-old striker could have been forgiven for calling it a day when she left Shelbourne during the summer but Creagh is now preparing for a whole new challenge at the other end of the table.

Bohs play Treaty United and Athlone Town in their final two league games of a heavily disrupted season but with a full pre-season under her belt the striker has goals in her sights once more.

"I feel like I have dejavu at the minute, every time we seem to talk I'm on the way back or recovering from a long term injury.

"I had spoke to Sean a few times in recent months, nothing in particular but just about football in general really and at the same time within my own head had been asking myself will I go back, won't I go back especially with the amount of time I've been out injured in recent years, you ask yourself can I do it again.

He has so much experience and I think he is one of the best coaches in the country, he is a fantastic man manager, he'll tell you as it is and give you criticism when it's needed but always in a constructive way and with improving your game on his mind. He just has a fantastic football brain and for players who are willing to put it in, he will get the very best out of you.

"I was tiptoeing around it for the last few months. People were saying you're absolutely mad because it's four times now that I've broken my foot and it's only last May that I went and got a pin in it.

"It's not giving me trouble at the moment but at the same time I haven't really done too much to test it over the last number of months. At the end of the day despite the amount of trouble I've had with my foot and not playing in recent years, I love being out on the pitch and so I've made that decision to go and give it my all again and we'll see what happens."

From Raheny United to Shelbourne, FAI Cups and league titles to Champions League football, Creagh has experienced it all and has also made some life long friends along the way.

Creagh spoke to the Shels girls before making the move to city rivals Bohs to see what they thought. Another person she wanted to get the opinion of was Ireland captain and Arsenal star Katie McCabe.

Having grown up just a stones through away from each other, Creagh and McCabe lined out together in the early days of the WNL with Raheny and then at Shelbourne before McCabe’s big move to Arsenal towards the end of 2015.

McCabe, despite now being captain of her country and one of the best players in the WSL had to bide her time at Arsenal, going out on loan to Glasgow City as recent as 2017. With her career at a crossroads and decisions to make, Creagh was one of the people that the Arsenal star spoke to and in recent months the roles have reversed in terms of football advice.

"I started out with Raheny United and then that transitioned into Shelbourne so between the two, that has always been my club and I'm incredibly close with all of the girls there too.

"That closeness and familiarity ensured that it was always going to be hard to make that decision to separate from the club and take that first step towards trying something new and completely different.

"I'll always love Shels and I've made life long friends there too but I had my own reasons for wanting to try something different. I had conversations with Pearl, Rachel and Noelle as well as a few others and I just explained to them exactly what I was thinking of doing just to see what they thought having spent so long with them at Shels.

"They were fullly supportive of it all and couldn't have been nicer about it all which was a relief really.

“I'm that type of person, I'll nearly over think what the reaction of those closest to me might be but all of them were just happy to see my back out playing again and doing what I love so much. Everyone within the club were fully supportive of what I was thinking of doing and that made the decision for me a lot easier and nicer too.

"As well as chatting to the girls within Shels and here at home, I also spoke to Katie McCabe who would be within that friends group with us just to get her opinion on things. She has had her own amazing journey to get to where she is now and she was of the same opinion more or less. She told me to go for it, it's a new challenge, you know how good a coach Sean is and most importantly it's your opportunity to get yourself back onto a football pitch.

"We would still be in touch and in Whatsapp groups together and that. When we were at Raheny I would have brought her up to training quite a bit and since then we've always got on well and been there for each other.

“She has grown and matured so much in the last few years. She would have had a tough few early years at Arsenal trying for a while to get into the team and we would have had a few conversations about it at the time when things were tough so it was nice for me to ask the same of her in the last few weeks and months.

“She was someone I wanted to get the opinion of as she has had quite the journey herself, plenty of challenges along the way and is flying the flag high now for club and country. On a football level I always like hearing what she has to say and taking her advice on board because of the journey she has had to date and how much she has progressed in the last few years.

“I just wanted to get an outsiders view as well, someone who isn't currently in that league bubble and could give me an unbiased and completely neutral view as well.

“It's going to be a completely new challenge for me again and it's probably not going to be for that long but it's an opportunity that has been afforded to me and I'm lucky enough that it has so I need to now just grab it, do my very best with it and see then where it takes me.”

As the most senior member of the playing squad now, her leadership skills from her Raheny United days will be called on again especially when some of her new team mates are playing their debut season in the WNL.

"A lot of people will only look at results week in week out, but the measure of a clubs progression overall is so much more than that. It is such a young squad at Bohs but It's so exciting being in around the training sessions over the past few weeks. There is huge potential within this squad and it's so exciting to be a part of from the outset and in the early development stages.

"This team really do have a bit about them and I'm very excited to hopefully contribute towards the strides and progress that this club can make in the coming years. It's tough in Dublin when you have so many clubs for young kids to choose from but Bohs have a real base established with the structures in place now for young players to seriously progress up through the age grades with top coaching too.

"Once I get back up to speed myself, the first thing I want to share and bring is experience and possibly a small bit of leadership as well. I've been involved as a player within the league since 2011 and I've gone through everything that the league brings within that time.

"I love playing in that number nine role and as a target where I can bring others into play as well. It is a really young squad and for some of the players this is their first season playing within the league so being able to share my own experience and even vocal presence will be so important.

"When you are so young and only starting in the league most players don't have that confidence and that comfort within themselves to be vocal on the pitch but I'm more than happy to shout when it's needed. With all of that, I'm looking to contribute bits and pieces that will hopefully help to improve us as a team."

Next season’s fixtures against her former club Shelbourne will be one to look forward to for Creagh but also a strange one against players she played on the same side with for so many years. Once she crosses that white line though, she will no doubt be eyeing up a goal or two.

"It will definitely be a weird one coming up against all of the girls and some of my best friends when we play Shels, at the moment I'm still easing myself back into things but hopefully by the time that comes around I can give them a run for their money.

A run for their money is something we can be certain about but celebrating if she scores against them, the jury remains out on that one!

"Ah I don't know about that c’mon, I might get a few slaps across the head if that happens so we'll see, I haven't even actually thought about that at all to be honest!