Good timing for United's Cup Final stars as all kicks off down under

By the time you read this, you will probably be either watching (or will know the result of ) the historic World Cup match between Australia and the Republic of Ireland in the opening game. Regardless of the result though, what it represents is not the culmination of a long road to participation, but probably just the beginning of that journey to full appreciation of the potential of women's sport.

The participation in these finals, seen by many as a destination rather than a departure lounge, is just the start of what can be regular qualification for the continent's top tournaments. Talented and all as our current side is, their real legacy to the game will be an appreciation of what can be achieved by their younger counterparts for decades to come, and a realisation that no longer will second-class treatment be acceptable in terms of facilities, finance and perception.

Starting with Nations League games this September and continuing with qualification for the European Championship finals in Switzerland in 2025, the expectation bar has been raised for the Irish team, but across all sports, there is a feeling that the time has come for fair allocation of resources.

So how do we enable this — we do so by backing the games at all levels, by creating role models and heroes, by facilitating the ‘can see, can be’ philosophy.

You can start this weekend by supporting the Galway United senior women who in the first year of their official existence under the United umbrella have qualified, not just for a national cup final, but for the decider of a competition between the best women's senior teams from both the League of Ireland and the Irish League in Northern Ireland. The decider against the oldest football club in Ireland, Cliftonville, with their array of Northern Ireland internationals, takes place at Sligo Rovers' home ground, the Showgrounds with a 3pm ko.

Galway United achieved this success not by any great fortune, but by going to Linfield and winning away; by beating a Shelbourne team who last season won the Cup and League double, before winning a thrilling penalty shootout in Wexford.

For anyone who has had the pleasure to see them playing this season, you will know that they deserve this final place because of the manner in which they play their football on the front foot, taking the game to every team they have played, irrespective of reputation of expected result. They have a squad comprising determined and skilled players, all regular owners of honest performances, all relishing the chance to be the best they can be.

Under the stewardship of Phil Trill, Gabriel Darcy, Theresa Keane and Adrian Cronin, and backed by a United club still dipping their toes in the water of the women's game, they have repaid the faith of those who believed in them and have delivered.

So this weekend, they head to Sligo for the final and they deserve your support. While they are playing for a trophy on Sunday, they are also laying down tarmacadam on the pathway to football opportunities for young girls all over the west. So keen are Galway United to maximise the number of fans travelling to Sligo, that special buses are running with a subsidised bus fare from as little as €5 which can be purchased through Clubforce. For details see the Galway United website and social media.

Meanwhile, in Kilkenny this weekend, Cathal Murray's elite level Galway senior camogie squad will take on Cork in a bid to reach another All-Ireland final.

For the past few years, we have been fortunate to witness the standard of this squad's preparation and performance. We hope that by teatime on Sunday, they will have won their way into another senior final on the first weekend in August.

Now, that would be a nice double to put with all the excitement happening in Australia.

 

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