Sunday, December 20, 2020
The prestigious event will be live on eirSport at 9.25pm tonight.
As well as having the ceremony televised for the first time in its history, there will be huge interest in this year’s event as 9 of the 10 nominees have come through the Schools ranks and its great to see them receiving the recognition they deserve at club level.
We take a brief look at the nominees and their player pathway with FAI Schools.
WNL Young Player of the Season Nominees
Éabha O’Mahony (Cork City)
Schools: Ballincollig Community School & Mount Mercy College, Cork
Éabha was selected for the Munster Interprovincial teams in 2015 and 2016. The starlet picked up a POTM accolade for her performance against Leinster in the 2016 series where previous Schools International’s Katie McCABE and Leanne KIERNAN were attendance to present the award. The provincial system led to the Cork native being selected for the Republic of Ireland Schools in 2016 and 2017.
She captained the Under 15 Girls against Northern Ireland and scored from the penalty spot for a comprehensive win in 2017. The youngster has thrived for Cork City in recent years and has progressed from the FAI’s underage teams at 16, 17 and 19s level to the senior setup
Shauna Brennan (Galway WFC)
School: Claregalway College
Shauna is one of our most decorated Schools players of recent times. This is due to the phenomenal success of Claregalway at both Primary and Post Primary level as well as her development at Interprovincial and National level.
She first came to prominence in May 2016 when Claregalway National School qualified for the SPAR5s National Finals in the Aviva Stadium. That September she moved to Claregalway College where the squad secured the FAI First Year Girls’ National Futsal title and Brennan was top goal-scorer at the tournament.
The following year saw her feature for Dom Coll’s charges in Connacht where the team stole the show and were crowned 2017 Interprovincial Champions.
Claregalway College have won numerous Connacht and National Cup titles with Shauna playing a pivotal role in their success at Schools level at Under 15 and Under 17 level in recent times.
International Head Coach Richard BERKELEY selected the Galway girl as the most improved player in the Irish camp at the 2018 Bob Docherty Cup. The Republic of Ireland select captured the title in Jordanstown with Brennan turning supplier for a Erin McLaughlin match-winner six minutes from time.
It has been a whirlwind for the Claregalway scholar as she has flourished at club level for Galway which saw her being called into the Republic of Ireland senior squad last year.
Jessica Ziu (Shelbourne)
School Larkin Community College, Dublin City
Ziu has been in the spotlight from a young age starring for School, Club and Country. It’s rare that a student would line out at provincial level for three consecutive years but that’s what the Dublin native achieved in 2014, 2015 and 2016. It was no coincidence that Leinster captured the Interprovincial title in those years with Paul Howard’s crew enjoying a stellar record at that level over an extended period.
2016 and 2017 saw Jessica wear the Irish jersey for the Under 15 Schools select at the Bob Docherty Cup.
A notable athlete for Larkin Community College, she has featured plenty in the Evening Herald Schools supplement over the years for football and athletics.
The Shelbourne player has amassed plenty of individual silverware over the years and has represented the Republic of Ireland at all underage levels. Jessica made her Senior International debut in August 2018 at 16 years old.
Aoife Horgan (Treaty United)
School: St. Joseph’s Secondary School, Ballybunion
The Kerry pupil made her Interprovincial debut for Munster in 2016 and she returned the following year which saw her snap up the POTM award with a stunning performance and goal scoring abilities against Ulster in the 2017 series.
Her talent saw her receive a call up to the Under 15 Republic of Ireland Schools select in 2018. Aoife excelled in the John Read Trophy as she was named Player of the Match in Stafford Town FC. She has been knocking in the goals this season for Treaty United and fully merits the accolades bestowed to her. Another player who has progressed through the underage teams at 16 and 17s level for the Republic of Ireland.
Ellen Molloy (Wexford Youths)
School: Presentation Secondary School, Kilkenny
Another highly gifted player that has prospered for School, Club and Country. Ellen has enjoyed an abundance of silverware with Presentation Secondary School through the years. The first of which was in 2016 when the team captured the FAI First Year Girls National Futsal title. Molloy netted 10 goals in that outing, just surpassed by Shauna Brennan’s 12 goal tally for Claregalway College! The educational institution has snapped up Leinster and National titles at Under 15, 17 and senior level in the FAI Schools Post Primary Schools competitions.
Rob Ellison’s Leinster select featured Molloy in 2017 and 2018 as the province won the 2018 tournament. The performances at both tournaments ensured her call up to the International Schools team in 2018. Ellen even captained the Under 15 Republic of Ireland Schools to gold at the Bob Docherty Cup in Salou in 2019 as they retained their crown.
Ellen was nominated for the first ever Under 15 Girls Schools International Player of the Year during the Summer. She was selected alongside colleague Della DOHERTY (Coláiste Iosagain, Portarlington) and eventual winner Jess STAPLETON (Palmerstown Community School).
The Wexford Youths player has shone in the League in recent months as well as enjoying success at International level with the 16s, 17s and 19s teams. The highlight of her career no doubt will be her Senior International debut which took place in October.
Ellen follows in the footsteps of Jessica ZIU (Larkin Community College, October 2018), Tyler TOLAND (Deele College, Raphoe, October 2017) and Aine O’GORMAN (Loreto, Bray, March 2006) as one of the young guns to be capped at just 16 years of age.
WNL Player of the Season Nominees
Saoirse Noonan (Cork City)
School: Christ King Girls Secondary School, Cork
Saoirse featured for St. Nioclais National School in Grange as the girls were runners up in the An Post Primary Schools 5-a-side Munster Finals in April 2012. Noonan then entered Post Primary education, attending Christ King Girls’. Noonan and Co. won the FAI First Year Girls National Futsal title that December. During her time in Christ King, she would play in three FAI Schools Post Primary Senior Girls National Cup showdowns. The Cork crew defeated rivals Moville Community College in the Cup Final in 2012. But the following year, they suffered defeat to the same opposition. Then in the 2014 contest, the girls went out at National semi-final level at the hands of Dominican College, Taylor’s Hill, who went on to claim the prestigious title.
Richard Grimes picked Saoirse for the Munster Interprovincial squad in 2013 and following a rigorous selection process, Lorraine Counihan called her up the Under 15 Republic of Ireland Schools team, coming runners up in the 2014 Bob Docherty Cup with the Cork youngster impressing. Noonan was named the League’s Young Player of the Year as well as the Under 17 International POTY in 2017. The dual star had a busy few years balancing her educational duties with football and GAA, two disciplines in which she has thrived in.
Karen Duggan (Peamount United)
School: Scoil Mhuire Greenhill, Carrick on Suir
Karen is a veteran on the footballing circuit these days, having secured Interprovincial selection with Munster way back in 2005. She then went on to crave a place in the Republic of Ireland Schools select, her first real taste of International football. The team would relinquish their International crown to eventual winners Scotland in 2006.
In 2018, at the age of 27 the Kilkenny talent announced her retirement from International football having amassed 35 caps for the Republic. The former science teacher, made her Senior International debut against South Africa at the Cyprus Cup in 2013.
The announcement did not deter her from establishing herself as one of the most talented and successful club players having two stints with Peamount and UCD Waves during her illustrious career. Duggan has been named in the WNL Team of the Season since 2013. Her most recent success with Peamount has been the Cup and League double this month.
Áine O’Gorman (Peamount United)
School: Loreto Secondary School, Bray
Another very experienced player, Áine would have come through the Leinster Schools Interprovincial process in 2003. International Manager, Dónal Conway (Our Lady of Mercy College, Beaumont), selected O’Gorman for the Republic of Ireland Schools the following year. Unfortunately the squad came up short with Scotland winning the 2004 tournament.
Aine would go on to represent Ireland at 17s and 19 level. Similar to Molloy, Ziu and Toland, O’Gorman was only 16 making her International debut in the 2006 Algarve Cup.
With her footballing prowess, Aine would progress to third level education and was selected for a FAI Sports Scholarship to attend Sallynoggin College in 2008 and later to IT Carlow.
With a short hiatus in 2018, the Wicklow player came out of International retirement, to add to her record number of caps.
To date, Áine has accumulated 105 International caps and 13 goals for her Country! Captain fantastic with Peamount, she lead them to the Cup and League double this season.
Eleanor Ryan Doyle (Peamount United)
School: St. Joseph’s College, Lucan
The third Pea’s player to be nominated for the award, Eleanor featured for the since the age of 8. Her introduction to schools football occurred in 2011 and 2012 with Paul Howard selecting her to represent her Province and fly the flag for St. Joseph’s.
As a result, the Dublin student, would make consecutive appearances in 2012 and 2013 at the Bob Docherty Cup. Unfortunately, Eleanor would come back with runners up medals on both occasions for the Republic of Ireland Schools select.
Dave Connell featured the star at Under 19 level also.
The sharp-shooter has impressed in the League in recent years but last season was a real highlight for the youngster.
The 2019 WNL proved to be a standout season for the midfielder as she was named in the Team of the Season, nominated for Player of the Season and received a Senior International call up.
Pearl Slattery (Shelbourne)
The only nominee that has not come through the Schools ranks. There was very little football in Loreto, Crumlin when Pearl was attending but I’m sure with her role in the Women’s Department of the FAI, that has been corrected.
Other awards on the night
WNL Team of the Season, top goal scorer, most clean sheets and services to the WNL will be announced also.