Peamount United's manager O'Callaghan views mid-season break as ideal recovery time for injured players

Peamount manager James O'Callaghan

Peamount manager James O'Callaghan Credit: Steve Alfred (ETPhotos)

Luke Jordan reports from Tallaght Stadium.

Peamount United manager James O’Callaghan says the mid-season league break has come at a “good time” for his team to give his injured stars a chance to recover after picking up another injury against Shamrock Rovers last weekend.

Peas forward Becky Watkins picked up a knock in the first half, and despite her best efforts to continue, she was eventually withdrawn — a move O’Callaghan described as hugely disappointing.

“It’s very disappointing, Becky is injured now,” said the Peas boss, as Watkins joins a lengthy list which already includes Ellen Dolan, Dora Gorman, and Lucy McCartan. However, the Dubliner is hopeful the break has come at a good time to allow his players time to return to fitness ahead of the league return in August.

“Hopefully, the break is at a good time, with regards the players who are injured it gives them a chance to recover.”

Despite the league's short sabbatical, Peamount and other teams in the Women’s Premier Division will participate in the inaugural Avenir Sports All-Island Cup. This competition kicks off this weekend, with the Peas once again facing Shamrock Rovers in the first game of the group stage

“Listen, I don’t know, in theory I think it’s a brilliant competition” said O’Callaghan when asked for his thoughts on the competition. “I’d like to see big prize money put into it; they should try even put a Champions League place in to make a really big deal out of this All-Ireland competition.

“For this year, I don’t know, we’re just going to use it for fringe players to get game time.

“We have a lot of fringe players that haven’t been getting that much game time so we’re going to use the All-Ireland competition as an opportunity to get them some game time and match fitness in preparation for the Bohs game in August.”

Peamount defeated their title challengers Shamrock Rovers 1-0 on Saturday in front of a record crowd which included Irish manager Vera Pauw. Sadhbh Doyle scored the winner in front of the Irish boss and O’Callaghan post-match spoke of his frustration that Doyle was overlooked.

“In fairness to Sadhbh, she’s a really attacking number 10. She’s really good in possession and I think its unbelievable she’s not in the Irish camp with the performances she’s been putting in and what a finish like a veteran striker”.

When asked about the match, the former Monaghan player acknowledged it wasn’t the greatest spectacle for the neutral.

The visitors game plan was to sit in and be compact to frustrate a side who to his own admission are an attractive side who like to move the ball around, and it proved to be the correct decision by the Peamount management team.

“It was a very close game. We probably sat back too much in the second half. We were kind of camped into our own half for periods. But we were nice and compact. They got one really good chance, a header, and we rode our luck with that one but apart from that they didn’t have any clear-cut chances.

“So, maybe we were holding out for a draw, but when you are sitting off and being compact, you always get a chance on the counterattack.

“Listen, it worked today through getting that break with Sadhbh, and scoring the goal, which was a fantastic finish.

With six points now between the sides as we head into the mid-season break, O’Callaghan admits he is delighted with the position they find themselves in but fires a warning shot to his players.

“The league doesn’t finish until November, and we are only in June so there’s a long way to go.”

The Peas' first game in the group stage of the Avenir Sports All-Island Cup is against Shamrock Rovers in Tallaght Stadium again this Saturday.