A new era in women’s soccer in Donegal will dawn next Thursday night when the North West Women’s Super League gets underway.
The North West Women’s Super League is a coming together of what had been the Donegal Women’s League and the Inishowen Ladies League.
It is the first amalgamation between the Leagues and is designed at giving women’s soccer a shot in the arm.
The North West Women’s Super League was officially launched on Monday evening at An Grianan Hotel in Burt with players and officials from the nine teams in attendance.
The new League will be governed jointly by the Donegal Women’s League and Inishowen Ladies League committees.
“This is an historic occasion for women’s football in Donegal – it’s the first time ever the two leagues have come together,” said Dessie Kelly, Chairperson of the Donegal Women’s League.
“It should be very competitive. The women’s game has progressed out of all recognition and it’s come to the stage where we’re getting international recognition at all age levels
“There was nobody from this area 15, 20 years ago, and now we have the likes of Roma McLaughlin and Zoe green, plus countless others
“This new league is an opportunity for us now to become even stronger, and to ensure that we can continue to provide players in the future.”
Although the likes of Roma McLaughlin, Tyler Toland, Zoe Green, Danielle McDevitt and Amy Boyle-Carr, among others, have been capped in recent years, the game at domestic level had lost a spark.
Now, though, officials hope that the fire will start again with six teams from Inishowen and three from Donegal forming the new Super League, sponsored by Neal Doherty Jewellers and the Glencar Inn.
From the Inishowen Ladies League, Greencastle FC, Moville, Carndonagh, Clonmany Shamrocks, Illies Celtic and Rashenny FC will be on board.
They will be joined by Lagan Harps, Bonagee United and Swilly Rovers from the Donegal Women’s League.
The Inishowen Ladies League Chairman Paddy Hannon has welcomed the new League.
“This was mentioned before, but teams weren’t able or willing to travel – but now they see the obvious benefits,” said Hannon, who is also manager of Greencastle FC.
“The leagues will improve from this as it means much more competitive fixtures and it’s exciting for the players to be looking forward to something new like this.”
The first set of fixtures will take place next Thursday, April 27. Games will be played on Thursday evenings. At the end of the season, the League will be split into two sections, while the teams will still compete in Ulster FA and FAI competition.
Mr Kelly said: “This league is a pilot scheme. We’ll meet at the end of the season and assess how we got on, but I think the potential is there to sustain a good Women’s League and I hope this amalgamation will last for a long time to come.”
WFAI official and Donegal Women’s League joint treasurer Bríd McGinty said it was a chance for both leagues to progress.
“The underage is very strong, but we need a pathway to keep them playing when they become seniors,” she said.
“The way both our leagues were going, a season or two more and that would have been the end of women’s football in this region.
“The combined Donegal/Inishowen team that won the Gaynor Cup in 2010 are all around 21 now, and those players deserve to play football at the highest level.
NORTH WEST WOMEN’S SUPER LEAGUE
Thursday, April 27th, 7pm
Bonagee United v Rashenny
Greencastle FC v Clonmany Shamrocks
Illies Celtic v Lagan Harps
Moville Celtic v Swilly Rovers
Bye – CarnTags: