‘They were tough times. I don’t know what kept me going. I just love playing soccer’

Katie McCarthy holds the record for the most appearances with Cork City Women’s FC, having played since the club’s foundation, in 2011, bar an 18-month spell between DLR Waves and Wexford Youths. Tomorrow will be her 72nd appearance and her first in the FAI Women’s Cup final.

Q: I don’t know if you let yourself think about it, but what would it mean to be the first Cork side to win the Women’s FAI Cup?

A: Jeez, it’d be pretty special, thinking of where the club has come from and to be part of the first squad. I hope it’ll be one of many, and it’s something we can win and go on and build on.

Q: You played in the first season of the Women’s National League, in 2011. How does it compare, from then to now?

A: The first year had a big buzz about it. Back then, it was probably a bit more of a big deal. It’s a tricky one to answer, really.

Q: It’s settling in, is it?

A: Yeah, it’s more settled in, but maybe the standard isn’t as high, all-round. It’s something we need to look at improving. It’s still great to play in the league and there’s still great players, but we need to constantly be relooking at how things are in the league.

We should always be looking for better and demanding better. As players, that’s maybe something we all need to look at.

Q: The international team’s strike threat brought more attention to how the women’s game is treated, so what needs to be improved at club level?

A: A lot of players are working, are in college, or in schools, and general supports for the players (are needed). Things like training venues and having a set time for matches, instead of it being mix-and-match, week in, week out, which can be difficult when you’re working.

Supports, with regard to nutrition and strength-and-conditioning, need to be looked at from a higher level, even though the clubs are looking after those and doing their best. The clubs need a lot of support, as well.

Q: Personally, you’ve had some success in coaching, as well as on the field…

A: Yeah, I coach with the U16 Cork Schoolboys’ League that won the Munster and All-Ireland last year.

I’m delighted to be part of the management staff. They’re a great group of players and kids, and I love being part of that squad.

Q: I was wondering, have you had many female managers during your time in the league?

A: No. Eileen Gleeson (UCD Waves) and Laura Heffernan (Wexford Youths) are the only two in the league. There hasn’t been a lot of them, and I don’t know why that is.

Q: Is that one of the next steps in developing the women’s game, to have more players step into coaching?

A: Yeah, that goes back to offering support, looking for those people who are looking for the managerial roles, and helping them progress to get to that level of management, and all that goes along with it.

Q: Is that something that would interest you in the future?

A: Yeah, in the future. I think I’ll concentrate on the playing, while I can, for another few years, anyway! It’s definitely something that would interest me, but far down the line.

Q: A big part of City’s story is the turnaround from failing to win in 48 games, from April, 2013 to September, 2015, to being cup finalists… You came back to a team, in the summer of 2014, that had lost all 25 league and cup games, hadn’t scored since the previous October, and had conceded 126 goals. What was that rebuilding job like?

A: A big thing was getting young talent in and getting that confidence back within the squad, and even within the club in general — that there are people here that want better and drive for better. Everyone within this club has built that back up over the years.

It’s been a great group effort, from committee members to management staff to the players, to have that relentless drive to keep going and keep trying for better, on and off the field.

The club has become more attractive again for those young players to want to play in the National League and, hopefully, as the years go forward, the National League becomes more attractive again for even more players, because it is a good league.

Q: Cork’s final game of the season, this year, is a cup final at the Aviva. In 2014/15, it was a forfeited league match. What kept you going through that to think there are better times ahead?

A: They were tough times, alright. Jeez, I don’t know what kept me going. I just love playing soccer. I don’t ever want to have to give up.

Cork is where I want to play. Just looking for better and not settling for less. We’re not there yet, but we’re improving year-on-year and we’re getting to where we want to be.

It’s great. We’re in a cup final and, next year, we hope we can better that again.

Q: You’ll have the support on your side on Sunday, with the double-header. How important will that be?

A: It’ll be huge. We were at Turner’s Cross, when the men’s team were given the league trophy, and a lot of fans said they’ll be coming up early to support our game, as well as the men’s. It’s going to be brilliant, that there’ll be a good crowd coming together for the club.

Q: UCD have been your bogey team this year, with three losses and no goal scored, but you beat the two league title contenders, in the cup quarters and semis. How confident are you of turning your form around against UCD?

A: We’ve had a really good run of form recently. We’ve won four of the last six games coming up to this final, so we’re very confident and there’s a good positive vibe within the squad. We really feel like it’s ours to go and take.

Q: Are you still living off the back of the screamer you scored in the semi-final?

A: (Laughs) It was a nice goal to score, but the next thing is trying to get another one to top that in the Aviva.


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