Author: Jessica Farry

Applications sought for role of WU17 Head-coach

Sligo Rovers FC are inviting applicants to express their interest in the role of Head Coach for the Women’s U17 team who will once again participate in the Só Hotels Women’s U17 National League in 2020.

In 2019, our Women’s Under 17 team enjoyed a hugely successful year under Head Coach Darragh Healy and his backroom team. Ballisodare man Healy has confirmed that he will not be staying on in the role next year.

Darragh Healy oversaw a fantastic year for the Bit O’Red girls.

The Rovers girls reached the semi-finals of both the league and cup competitions, and recorded some famous results along the way, with a number of international call-ups throughout the season.

The hard work and commitment of Head-Coach Darragh Healy and his coaching staff Martin McManus, Jason Quinn, Hugh Cunningham, Yvette Edwards and Stephen Travers is very much appreciated by all at the club and we would like to place on record our thanks to the coaches.

The position of Under-17 Women’s Head Coach is key to the ongoing development of our elite underage players and will play a significant role in their development. The position will be on a voluntary basis. The role will provide valuable experience for the successful candidate of working with an elite group of players.

Muireann Devaney, Sarah Kiernan and Emer O’Neill were among the Rovers girls who received international call-ups during the season.

Job Description

  • Help club achieve its vision to ‘Build a brand that is associated with excellence on and off the pitch for women’s football, to be considered as an example of excellence and best practice, and one of the major developer of players within the country at underage, and eventually senior level’.
  • To assemble squad through talent identification, including holding trials, for the beginning of the FAI Women’s U17 season in March 2020.
  • The development and nurturing of a pool of elite players to facilitate their current and future success as individuals and as a team.
  • Organise, plan and deliver a suitable player development programme in line with the FAI and Sligo Rovers coaching syllabus.
  • Uphold the club’s code of conduct and implement club’s vision on and off the pitch.
  • Set high standards for the players both on and off the pitch.
  • Create and maintain appropriate communication with players / parents / clubs / leagues and any stakeholders relevant to the team
  • To work with the media in any area regarding Sligo Rovers FC.
  • Ensure the club adheres to FAI & Women’s National League rules and regulations and competition rules. .
  • To ensure that all delivery satisfies the clubs safeguarding and welfare procedures
  • The successful candidate will report to the Women’s Football committee within the club. The women’s committee includes members of the club management committee and is governed by the management committee of Sligo Rovers.

Job Specification:

The ideal candidate will have skills and experience in the following areas: 

Essential Criteria

  • A current valid UEFA B Licence holder as a minimum.
  • Successful candidate will be subjected to garda vetting clearance. 
  • Up to date Safeguarding 1 / Child Welfare Certificate.
  • An ability to produce verbal and written reports.
  • Long-term commitment to working within a multi-disciplinary team.
  • Access to both email and phone.
  • Experience and enthusiasm for coaching and mentoring elite young players and coaches.

Desirable Criteria

  • Administrative and organisational skills.
  • Previous experience of coaching in female game.
  • Coach mentoring experience.

Abilities / Skills / Knowledge

  • Has the leadership ability to inspire a team to play to their maximum potential.
  • Ability to communicate and implement club’s philosophy as head coach.
  • Empathy with young players with an ability to inspire.
  • Excellent communication skills with the ability to build meaningful, strong strategic relationships with players, staff and officials.
  • Understanding of learning, development and high performance with a proven ability to create optimum and challenging learning environments for players.
  • Strong existing relationships within the Women’s football in North-West.
  • Must be available for games / training at weekends and evenings.

To apply for this position please email your CV with a cover letter to Jane Nugent, Secretary, Women’s Football Committee, Sligo Rovers FC at by 5pm on Thursday, 5th December 2019.

WU17 trio earn international call-ups

Three Sligo Rovers players have been called into the Republic of Ireland Women’s Under 17 squad for a double header against Belgium.

Manorhamilton’s Muireann Devaney, Swinford’s Emer O’Neill and Grange’s Sarah Kiernan have all been named in the squad that will travel to Brussels from August 8th until August 14th for the double header friendly.

It is the first time that Sarah Kiernan has been called into a Republic of Ireland squad.

Emer O’Neill had been named in the stand-by list, but received the news that she had been called into the squad shortly after the initial announcement.

Muireann Devaney, Sarah Kiernan and Emer O’Neill.

Rovers endured a tough day on Saturday as they were defeated 5-2 by Cork City Women at MacSharry Park. Both of Rovers goals were scored by Muireann Devaney.

Head-coach Darragh Healy said: “It’s great for the girls to get recognition. Emer and Muireann have been called up before and have played at that level but it’s the first time for Sarah and it’s great. It’s well deserved for the three of them. It’s great experience for them and the three of them are well capable of playing at that level and doing well for themselves.

“It just shows that the players are here. You can worry about results but results will be up and down, so long as the girls are playing well, that’s all that matters. If you can get a few of them up to international level that’s what matters. What’s important is that we’re improving players.

Darragh Healy watches on during Saturday’s defeat to Cork City Women.

“These call-ups are all down to the individuals but of course as their coach you like to see them moved up to international level. It’s down to the girls, they are doing well.

“Today was a bit of a blip but we’re having a good season. We still have to play Limerick, Galway and Wexford. We got a good result last week, not so good today but if we can put a couple of results together we can make the semi-finals.”

Muireann Devaney said: “It’s a great honour when you’re called to put on the green jersey. When you have friends coming with you from Sligo Rovers it makes it that bit more fun.

“When I’ve been in squads before they’ve been for development tournaments, so it’s a greater honour this time that it’s competitive football. It’s where you want to be at this time of the year. Everybody at Sligo Rovers have helped to make it happen.

Muireann Devaney scores her second goal against Cork City Women on Saturday.

“My family have been great. Every time they get that email they come home from work with a smile on their face. It’s all down to them with all their hard work bringing me to training and matches, they never say no.

“It’s always a help when you’re going away with people you know and you’re not counting on making new friends. When you know each other you look out for one another when you’re playing.

“Today was disappointing but I’m really enjoying my time at Sligo Rovers. Darragh and all the staff do everything they can to help us and make us as good as they can. Anything we want they say yes. It’s brilliant.”

Sarah Kiernan said: “I couldn’t believe it. It’s my first time. I went to the Under 16 trials last year but sadly didn’t make it to the next trial. It was a big shock to us all. We were extremely shocked, couldn’t believe it.

“My Mum was ecstatic, sadly my Dad passed away last year but we know he would be jumping for joy. He would be very proud.

“Cliffoney/Grange is where I come from and Benbulben is where I started playing football and a lot of it is down to them. It’s great for the club too, they have Seamas Keogh coming through too.

Sarah Kiernan in action. Pic: The Bit O’Red Photography/Michael Melly.

“It will be a help that Muireann and Emer are there. I won’t know many people going so it’s great to know them.

“Playing for Sligo Rovers is great this year. The training is fantastic and we’re doing well. Sadly we lost today but sure we’ll get on with it.”

Emer O’Neill said: “I was shocked when I got the call up. I’ve been in squads before but I was really honoured. Every day you get to play for your country is a good one. I’m really excited and really happy to get the call-up.

“I was on stand-by so I really wasn’t sure if I would be travelling or not. So I was really delighted when I did get the call-up.

Emer O’Neill in action against Cork City Women.

“My family are really proud, like they are the whole time. To represent the country is huge and any opportunity I get I will take it.

“I’m loving playing for Sligo Rovers. It’s part of the reason I got called up because training is so good, playing at a high level helps when you’re involved in international squads.”

WU17 team to compete in league phase

With the first phase of games completed in the Só Hotels Under 17 Women’s National League, it has been confirmed that Sligo Rovers will now be competing in League section, having finished in the top half of Group 1. 

The Bit O’Red now go into the League section with Shelbourne and Galway WFC who also finished in the top half of Group 1 and they will be joined by Limerick, Wexford Youths and Cork City. 

Ava Keane and Alva Munnelly celebrate. Pics: Bit O’Red Photography/Michael Melly

Teams will play each other once during this series of games. 

The Shield group, containing teams who finished in the bottom half of the two groups within the league, will be made up of Athlone Town, Peamount United, Donegal League, Bohemian, Greystones United and DLR Waves. 

The Rovers girls, sponsored by David McConville Orthodontics, are enjoying a fantastic season so far. 

The team is based at IT Sligo, where they train and play their home games.

Kate O’Dowd in action. Pic: Bit O’Red Photography/Michael Melly, check out Facebook for more.

Fixtures for phase two of the Só Hotels U17 Women’s National League have been announced and Rovers will face Shelbourne in the first game this Saturday at the AUL.

They are home to Cork City on Saturday August 3rd.

Head-coach Darragh Healy said: “It’s great to qualify for the top section and this shows how well the girls have done over the last ten games to do so.

“Our first 5 or 6 games we did very well and had a lot of points on the board going into the last few games.”

“You want to be competing against the better teams and testing yourself each week we play and this will definitely be the case against all the teams we will encounter from now on.

Head-coach Darragh Healy watches on. Pic: Bit O’Red Photography/Michael Melly.

“We qualified at the expense of some well established teams like Peamount so this shows how well it has gone.

“Hopefully we can qualify for the semi final stages and be competing from that side of things. We know we can compete with any team in the country on our day so we are optimistic particularly with a cup semi final to come also.

“We’re delighted with how all the girls have done and especially this time of year with holidays and one or two injuries there has been loads of rotation but every player has contributed and done well, and we will need every player to contribute going forward to the end of the season also”.

Meanwhile, the Bit O’Red are through to the semi-finals of the Só Hotels Under 17 WNL Cup after they beat Donegal League 5-0 at IT Sligo last Wednesday night.

Farrah McDonagh makes a save. Pic: Bit O’Red Photography/Michael Melly.

Muireann Devaney scored a brace, while Alva Munnelly, Aife Haran and Ava Keane were also on the scoresheet.

Healy added: ” A cup run would be great. We’ve beaten Bohemians and Donegal to date and have Galway WFC in the semi final. We are one game away from a cup final so it would be brilliant to get to the final and have a day out so hopefully with a bit of luck we’ll get there”.

International recognition for Rovers WU17 players

Three Sligo Rovers Under 17 women’s players have received international recognition.

Muireann Devaney, Kate O’Dowd and Emer O’Neill have all been selected for the upcoming Women’s Under 16 Development tournament in the Czech Republic.

The camp takes place from May 18th-25th.

L-R Emer O’Neill, Kate O’Dowd and Muireann Devaney.

Head-coach Darragh Healy congratulated his players: “It’s a great honour for any player to represent their country and I’m delighted to see the girls once again be selected in the squad.

“As a club we take great pride in seeing players playing at this level and it shows the great work that is being done by all coaches. We wish the girls the best of luck and hopefully they enjoy the experience.

“They have been fantastic since I have come in as head-coach this season and I’m not surprised that they have been called into the squad for this training camp.

“Let’s hope we have more girls going on to represent their country in the near future.”

The Bit O’Red girls are enjoying a fine season so far. With five games played they have picked up three victories (including a 5-3 defeat over Athlone on Saturday), one draw and one defeat.

Rovers WU17 team begin season this weekend

The Sligo Rovers Women’s Under 17 team begin their Só Hotels Women’s Under 17 National League campaign on Saturday, when they travel to Dublin to take on Peamount.

The Bit O’Red girls were due to start last Saturday, but the game was postponed as a result of international call-ups on both sides.

Head-coach Darragh Healy says his players are raring to go: “We’re really excited. We’re happy with how things have gone so far. It’s all systems go. Peamount will be a tough game but we’re ready for it.”

There are just three new faces in the squad for this year. Healy feels that the settled squad will help. “There’s only two or three new players in the squad this year, who we’re really happy to get in. Obviously a few players have moved on that are overage, very few changes around the place. They did well last year, we’re hoping to build on that. The girls are that bit older and that bit more experienced so hopefully we’ll have a good season.”

“A lot of the girls still have this year and next year so they still have two seasons, a lot of those girls came in as 14 or 15 year olds last year and had a half season, we’re hoping that with this year and next year they will come on really strong and develop as players.”

Our thanks to main sponsors David McConville Orthodontics. Missing from photo: Muireann Devaney, Leah Duffy, Leah Fox and Farrah McDonagh.

Healy says the important thing is developing the players for the future. Results are not the most important aspect of the season.

“We want to see the girls to improve, that’s the main thing. We spoke to them, results may or may not go your way every week but the main thing is  that we’re improving as players and improving as a group and that the girls are developing as players. The results will take care of themselves after that.

“There was a lot of good work done last year. I’m coming in and the girls are in a really good place, the club is in a really good place. We’re just hoping to build on that for the season ahead and take it to the next level if we can.”

IT Sligo are associate sponsors of the Bit O’Red women.

He also confirmed his management team: “Assistant coach is Martin McManus, a Sligo man, he would have worked on the Emerging Talent programme so he would have worked with myself and John Russell around Sligo. I’ve Jason Quinn, goalkeeping coach, he’s played in the IT for many years and he’s a very good up and coming goalkeeping coach, really happy to have him on board. Stephen Travers is doing the video work for us, mostly on matches, that will be very useful. We have Conor Rush doing the strength and conditioning, he’s recently finished his masters. Delighted to have him on board, he will really help the girls. We have Hugh Cunningham doing the player observation and a bit of match analysis. Really happy with all the staff.”

Darragh Healy with Mark Butler, Good4U, associate sponsors.

Councillor Marie Casserly, Chairperson of the Sligo Rovers Womens committee said: “We were accepted as founding members of the inaugural U17 Women’s National League for the 2018 and 2019 Seasons which commenced in July 2018, with our plans to add a Senior Women’s National League team in the 2020 season to complete the pathway for elite female players which is not currently catered for in the North West of Ireland. When I was asked to become involved two years ago I was honoured and privileged as I truly believe in the need to attract, promote and retain women and girls in sport. To be able to do this in Sligo is fantastic as traditionally female football players of this standard have had to leave the region to continue to play football at an elite level. Now we have provided an opportunity through collaboration with different agencies to compete with the best of them here in this region.”

This would not be possible without our main sponsors David McConville Orthodontics, and facility sponsors IT Sligo.

The squad is as follows: Erin Taheny, Leah Duffy, Leah Fox, Sarah Kiernan, Cathy Harrison, Kate Nugent, Keela Scanlon, Muireann Devaney, Aoife McLoughlin, Helen Monaghan, Farrah McDonagh, Sophie McDonagh, Aife Haran, Ciara Henry, Emer O’Neill, Alva Munnelly, Ava Keane, Sorcha Reddy, Kate O’Dowd.

Squad with Michael Nugent of Verus Metrology, sponsors.

Darragh Healy appointed head-coach of Rovers Under-17 women’s team

Sligo Rovers are thrilled to announce that Darragh Healy has been appointed head-coach of our Under 17 Women’s National League team.

The Ballisodare native takes over from Damon Kearney who guided the Bit O’Red girls to a fourth place finish in their group in 2018, which was the league’s first year.

Darragh brings with him a wealth of experience, thanks to his involvement in football in the community. He is a member of the coaching staff with the Rovers Under 19s, and is head coach of the Rovers primary school programme, which involves visiting schools, coaching and delivering workshops.

He is the current head-coach of IT Sligo women’s team, and is also assistant coach of the IT Sligo men’s A team. He also coaches four teams at the Ursuline College.

Darragh is head-coach with his home town club Ballisodare United, delivering workshops to fellow coaches and coaching the various academy age groups.

Speaking to Healy said: “I’m delighted to be taking over as head coach of the Women’s Under 17 team. It’s a great opportunity for me to work with the best female team and players in the region. I feel that it is a really exciting time to be involved in the female game in Sligo and there’s no doubt that the future is very bright.

“I have been involved with Sligo Rovers in recent years and followed the women’s under 17 team’s progress last year. I will be looking to build on the fantastic foundations that have been put in place by the committee and coaches from last season.

“There is a fantastic pool of talent within the region, and the fact that several players received international call-ups just shows you the potential that is here.

“This is a new challenge for me and it’s one I’m really looking forward to. I would like to thank the Sligo Rovers Women’s Committee for the opportunity.”

Kearney’s pride at Rovers’ first season in the Under 17 WNL

Damon Kearney, head-coach of the Sligo Rovers Under 17 Women’s team says he can reflect on his year at the helm ‘with a huge amount of pride’ as he guided the Bit O’Red girls for a fourth place finish in the Group A, just missing out on third spot.

It was an historic year for the Bit O’Red, entering a team into the Women’s National League for the first time, for the first year of the Under 17 league.

And Kearney is immensely proud to be able to look back and see that he has played his part in developing women’s football in the region. He also says he is ‘gutted’ he cannot continue in his role.

“I look back on the season with a huge amount of pride, we have provided a pathway for female players to play for Sligo Rovers for the first time in the National League and you do need to look back to where it all started from to appreciate the journey that this season has brought,” the Roscommon man told

“This all began back in September 2017 where discussions were held informally with people involved in the women’s game in the region to gauge if there was an interest in exploring possibility of applying to have a U17 WNL side.

“Then we had to identify the right people to come together on the committee to sit down strategically and map out how to establish the women’s structure with the club. It was so important that a good foundation was there from the start because if the structures off the pitch aren’t right then it affects everything on the pitch especially when you want this to turn into not just having a U17 WNL team but also a senior WNL side.”

Kearney says he was honoured to be given the role as head-coach, bringing a wealth of experience with him thanks to his coaching roles with the Emerging Talent programme, Longford Town, Castlebar Celtic Women and more. He also works full time as the Community Football Development Officer for Leitrim with the FAI and Leitrim County Council since 2009.

“I was honoured to be given the opportunity to become the first head coach of a Sligo Rovers women’s National League team and I would like thank the support I had from the coaching staff around me this season who have been fantastic from the start in trying to create a good environment for the young players coming into the club. We all knew that there are some fantastic players in the region.”

Rovers finished the season in fourth place, with goal difference separating them and Peamount who occupied third place. Kearney, however, says that the table was not his main focus for the year.

“I didn’t spend too much time worrying about results or the table, for me I was looking at the longer term future of the club. My focus was to spend the time developing our players for the long term. We had to be realistic about our ambitions, we had a young squad with only five who will be over-age for next season and then I think we have 11 still underage for the 2020 season in two year’s time. So this season was the start of their journey getting used to playing at this level and using this experience to push on in their development individually and as a group in season two/three to hopefully playing senior football with Rovers.”

He will only have positive memories from his time at the helm of the Bit O’Red Under 17 girls, but there are a couple of days that will remain precious memories for him.

“That very first game we had with Peamount away is a positive memory that all who helped made this happen. Everyone will remember for a long time that feeling of seeing a Sligo Rovers Women’s team run out on a pitch as a National League club for the first time and then the first home game against Galway with the Live Your Goals Festival with 250 young girls taking part in that and then seeing that they too can aspire to play for Sligo Rovers in the future.”

Players within the squad have developed hugely as the season went on, and he feels that the hard work is all made worthwhile when you look on and see how far your players have come.

“It’s been one of my most enjoyable experiences in football, working with the group of players we had and seeing how much they have developed over the season. Great work has been done locally in the region at all these girls club’s in Sligo/Leitrim/Mayo as well as with the Emerging Talent League centres to provide a pathway for these girls. Anyone who has seen any of our games this year would have seen some of the outstanding talents within the squad. Sligo Rovers are providing the next step for them to challenge themselves at the highest level then against the best of the best elsewhere and they players learn so much from that playing at that level week after week. Some players adapted really quickly while others grew in confidence as the season went on, overall the players and their parents must take great credit for how they conducted themselves this season as it is a big commitment to play at this level but then the progression of these girls hopefully makes it all worthwhile.

“I am gutted I am not in a position to continue the good work we started but the potential of this group and the club as a whole is massive and it will be a great opportunity to whoever comes into the role next. The coaching staff around me all contributed so much to me as well as the players and I would like to thank each of them for the time and effort they put in over the course of the season.”

The club’s step into women’s football has been greeted with a huge amount of positivity, and Kearney says that the Under 17 league in general has been a massive step in the right direction for women’s football in the country.

“This has been a huge step forward in the right direction not just for our region but across the country in women’s football. The game is growing in terms of numbers, slowly women’s sport is getting more exposure, there is still a long way to go but it is moving in the right direction. Things like the U17 WNL is a big step in providing opportunities for our elite players to move onto beyond the Gaynor Cup and for players who have ambitions to push themselves on this is where they should be aiming for.

“In the North-West it was great to see not just a Sligo Rovers team but also Donegal League as well as this level. Players in this this region have lost out in the past due to lack of structures. Even looking at the senior WNL league, there are clubs from Galway across to the middle of the country to Dublin, there is no senior club in the northern half of country. So the U17’s is only the start of the ambitions for Sligo Rovers, hopefully they can push on and meet one of their original targets in their last strategic plan to have a senior WNL set up for 2020. There is exciting times ahead for women’s football and I am glad to say Sligo Rovers will be part of that.”

Sligo Rovers would like to place on record their thanks to Damon Kearney for his commitment, dedication, professionalism and hard work, in what was an historic year for the club. Damon’s contribution to the club has been invaluable.