Kilkenny United begin life at Buckley Park on Sunday afternoon, when they welcome local rivals Wexford Youths in a southeast derby. Last weekend, Kilkenny began life as a senior club with a four nil defeat away to Cork and Kate McGrath feels that her side will have learned a great deal from last weekend’s game.
“We have a certain amount of ‘on the job’ learning to do, and that began last weekend against Cork City. Although the result is not what we would have wanted, we learned a lot, and had a much improved second 45 minutes.
“I feel you have to find the positives and build on them. We know it will take time to settle as a unit, but we can't sit back and wait for it either, the more we work the quicker it will happen.”
With this weekends’ fixture being a derby, the defender feels that it will help to add some spice to the game and she is also aware that Wexford now set the standards that other sides must strive to achieve after they won the 2014-15 Women’s National League.
“There is always something special about derby days in any sport and at any level, so it's something we look forward to and it always adds that extra edge to a fixture. Obviously Youths are coming in off the back of their Champions League campaign and they set the standard in last year’s league. We just have to look at it as another fixture and think about what we need to do in the 90 minutes.”
Wexford Youths got their Women’s National League Shield campaign off a flying start last weekend with a 3-1 victory over UCD Waves at Ferrycarrig Park - Linda Douglas opened the scoring, before Claire O’Riordan scored twice from the bench for Youths - who were playing their first game since exiting the UEFA Champions League qualifiers.
“It was great to get a 3-1 win over UCD Waves last Saturday” Emma Hansberry told Extratime.ie “I suppose the most important thing for us is that we won that game and sent a message out to the rest of the league. We want to make Ferrycarrig our fortress and make it very difficult for teams to play there. The pressure is all on us this year, everyone is out to get us no matter what competition we are playing in and this comes down to the great job the girls done last season.”
During the off-season, Hansberry made the huge decision to leave Castlebar Celtic and the Irish international feels the transition between clubs has been brilliant and her new teammates have made her feel very welcome.
“It was very important to settle in quickly at the club. I only had a few weeks training with the girls before we went off to Champions League so what was important for me was to get to know the formation, the set pieces, the way they like to play and also to just get to know the girls.
“What made the switch a lot easier was that everyone at the club was extremely welcoming to me. They took me in under their wing and I looked forward to going down training every weekend, and I still do. The girls all have a special bond with each other and there is a great understanding between the management and players, which is sometimes hard found. They have an unbelievable professional set up both on and off the pitch and this is something I picked up on straight away on my arrival to Ferrycarrig Park.
“Obviously moving clubs can be both stressful and exciting. It is hard to leave a club you have been playing with for five years, but it is also both exciting and challenging walking into a new set up. And as I said previously, the most relieving thing about moving to Wexford Youths was the welcoming feeling I received from everyone at the club”
With this weekend’s clash being a first southeast derby, the midfielder is looking forward to her side’s trip to Buckley Park however, she is fully aware that anything can happen when two local side’s clash.
“I can't wait for Sunday. Derby days are always very exciting to be a part of. Everyone knows anything can happen on derby days, so it is important to just play the way we do and come out with a win. There's no doubt about it, Kilkenny will be gunning for us. Their first time in a local derby in the WNL, their first home game, their first time to possibly get a win.
“They will have the home crowd behind them and they will want to make a point to the rest of the teams and make Buckley Park a place where teams should fear going. So giving that, we will have a task on our hands this Sunday there's no questioning it. But now we're off to a winning start there is no backing down for us and a win is the only thing we are looking at this Sunday.”
Kilkenny were the only side that failed to score in the opening round of the Women’s National League Shield.
Sunday’s clash will be the first of four clashes between the sides during the 2015-16 season.