2023 LOIW Season Preview: Shamrock Rovers

Collie O'Neill has assembled a strong Shamrock Rovers squad on the club's return to top flight women's club football in Ireland

Collie O'Neill has assembled a strong Shamrock Rovers squad on the club's return to top flight women's club football in Ireland Credit: Shamrock Rovers / extratime.com

Head Coach: Collie O’Neill        

Stadium: Tallaght Stadium

Players in: Amanda Budden (Shelbourne), Aoibhe Fleming (Peamount United), Shauna Fox (Shelbourne), Jess Gargan (Shelbourne), Jessica Hennessy (Athlone Town), Aoife Kelly (Shelbourne), Lauren Kelly (Peamount United), Abbie Larkin (Shelbourne), Summer Lawless (Peamount United), Áine O’Gorman (Peamount United), Melissa O’Kane  (Athlone Town), Chloe McCarthy (DLR Waves WU19), Savannah McCarthy (Galway WFC), Alannah McEvoy (Peamount United), Lia O’Leary (Shelbourne), Orlaith O’Mahony (Shamrock Rovers WU19), Maria Reynolds (Shamrock Rovers WU19), Jaime Thompson  (Shamrock Rovers WU19),  Abby Tuthill (Shamrock Rovers WU19), Stephanie Zambra (Peamount United).

Players out: n/a

extratime.com key player: Áine O’Gorman

The Irish international will skipper the Shamrock Rovers side this season as the club makes a return to senior women’s club football in Ireland for the first time since 2014. The 33-year-old player was the first signing made by Hoops Head Coach Collie O’Neill for his new squad.

The experienced player has 115 Ireland caps to her name, making her debut for the Girls in Green way back in 2006 (when her teammate Abbie Larkin was just a year old!). In addition to time playing with Doncaster Rovers Belles, she has spent most of her career in the domestic game here in Ireland – most recently with Peamount United, where she won the title in 2019 and 2020, and with UCD Waves. She has been top scorer in the Women’s National League in five separate seasons including the last three years.

extratime.com one to watch: Abbie Larkin

Shelbourne thought they had secured their star player Abbie Larkin for another season, only for Rovers to tempt the teenager from Tolka Park across to Tallaght. The signing of the 17-year-old striker who hails from Ringsend adds to an already star studded attacking Hoops line up that includes fellow Ireland international Stephanie Zambra (née Roche).

Larkin has six caps to her name and she and Áine O’Gorman were the only home based players who were capped in last week’s Ireland international game against China. The duo, along with Savannah McCarthy (if she can prove her fitness as she recovers from an ACL injury), are expected to be part of Vera Pauw’s World Squad.

How they did last season: n/a

What to expect this season:

Rovers are returning to the top flight of club football this season having had a side in the inaugural Women’s National League in 2011/12 before withdrawing from the league at the end of the 2013/14  campaign.

The club entered a girls side in the u17 National League in 2020 and added an under-19 team last season before making the step up again to senior football this season.

The re-entry of Rovers to the women’s game has been one of the main talking points in the build-up to this season’s kick-off, particularly as they have signed a raft of players from rival clubs across the league.

While the Hoops have promoted four players from within their underage setup, the signing of six players each from Shelbourne and Peamount United (the clubs who have won the last four Women’s League of Ireland titles) shows the ambition the club has this season.

In addition to those dozen new players signed from outside the club, Collie O’Neill has brought in two players from Athlone Town, one from Galway and one from the DLR Wave women’s under-19 side. Two additional Rovers underage players have been listed in their senior squad; goalkeeper Jayne Merren (u17) and midfielder Alannah Prizeman (u19).

While O’Neill has secured the services such high quality players, the new squad will need to gel quickly if they are to challenge in what is an incredibly competitive league where Shels, Peas, Wexford Youths and Athlone Town (who won the President’s Cup on penalties last weekend) all have serious ambitions to winning the title.

First game: The Hoops begin with an away trip to take on Sligo Rovers on Saturday 4th March (5pm kick-off).