Shaunagh McCarthy - City Edition Interview

Shaunagh McCarthy - City Edition Interview

By Aoife McDarby for City Edition

Shaunagh McCarthy, 22, plays left-back or left wing for Cork City Women’s Football Club and is going into her fourth season with the club. She is in her last year of college studying Geography and History, as well as playing for UCC in the university league and having a job. Although this is very overwhelming schedule. Shaunagh says, “once she found the balance”, she was well able to stay on top of it.

Shaunagh started playing soccer from an early age. She started playing football with the boys as she “played a load of sports” as a child. She took a break from playing for a couple of years as she was unable to play for the schoolboy league as there was no girls’ team. Shaunagh went on to join gymnastics when she could no longer play football and did this at “a very high level” for a few years. But when a girl in school approached her about joining the Wilton team her, after “putting it off for weeks”, Shaunagh returned to football at the age of 16, and she “hasn’t looked back since”.

She encourages young girls “to stick at it” and to “keep practicing in a green or estate”. She also recommended to “play with people older than you, as you will keep learning all the time” and “to focus on one or two things at a time and make those apart of your game” and then “improve after that”. Shaunagh herself looks up to players such as Katie McCabe, the Irish captain who “plays the same position as me and also plays for Arsenal, she is basically livng my dream”, Shaunagh replied. She also is inspired by former Cork City striker Saoirse Nonan, who played both soccer and Gaelic football at such a high level and is now plying her trade with Durham Ladies in the English Championship.

It has been a dream of Shaunagh’s to play for Cork City since she went back playing soccer, and her family’s support for the club influenced her ambition of playing for the team. She mentioned how her family are “really, really big supporters of Cork City FC and are season ticket holders”. Her family “go and watch the men's team every weekend” and now “watch all her matches” as well. Shaunagh’s goal for the near future, hopefully in the next year is to “play for Ireland’s women's team”, with her long-term goal being “to play for a league team in England”, preferably with her beloved Arsenal.

City’s first game of the season, at home to Galway United on Saturday, March 5, is a big match for Shaunagh, who is racing to get back from injury. Her ankle and ACL troubled her last season, when she injured her ankle on the same leg back in July, as her ankle was compensating for her ACL injury two years previous. Last week it was “causing her trouble and swollen” so Shaunagh had to sit out of training. Now she is “really excited to be back playing and to be back on the pitch with the girls”. To prepare for her first match back, she has mainly been focusing on her physio to ensure “her fittest levels are back where they need to be to play at an elite level”, as well as well as “doing a lot of gym work” in her own time to make sure she is in the best form possible to go back. “This can be mentality draining sometimes but it is all part of the process to get back,” Shaunagh reflected but once she is back, she will be delighted.

Her serious ACL injury two years ago has given Shaunagh a philosophical outlook on injuries. During that time out, her brother reached out Arsenal’s Hector Bellerin for her birthday, who around the same time as Shaunagh also experienced an ACL injury. Shaunagh soon after received a letter from the club.

“I thought I had gotten trials or something,” she jokes. “I thought it was the best thing ever.”

Shaunagh’s family play a huge part in her football career. When asked about who inspires her, her mum and dad first came to mind as “they bring me everywhere and come and support me at all me matches”. Shaunagh also mentions how her family have really supported and motivated her to get back on the pitch after her injury.

“They all pitched in and got me back to where I am now. They were always pushing me and checking in making sure I was alright”, as well as bringing her to training and “even extra training when I had one-on-one sessions”.

With next weekend’s game in mind, Shaunagh spoke on behalf of her team to say they “would love to get more supporters out to our game on Saturdays now that times have changed to 5pm”. City broke the attendance record for a Women’s National League game last season and Shaunagh says it was “one of the best feelings” she has had when playing for City.

“Having so many singing and chanting really helped us get over the line and we hope to see many of those faces and more back this season.”

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