Category: Womens

Rovers beaten in final game

Peamount Utd hit Sligo Rovers for six in the final home game of the season at PRL Park on Saturday evening where the newly-crowned Women’s Premier Division champions recorded a 6-1 victory, writes Conall Collier.

Interviewed before kick-off for the live TG4 action, Sligo Rovers manager Steve Feeney indicated that his side needed to concede less goals, but that deficiency was clearly highlighted in a 20-minute spell in the second-half.

Although she picked the ball out of the net six times, Sligo Rovers ‘keeper Amber Hardy made some excellent saves in the opening 45 minutes as the hosts attempted to turn on the style.

Peamount struggled to make an impact on the scoreboard until the closing minutes of the first-half when Jess Fitzgerald broke the deadlock and Ellen Dolan added a second goal as the clock hit 45 minutes for a 2-0 advantage.

Trailing at the interval, the Bit O’Red were blitzed either side of the hour mark when Erin McLoughlin (penalty), Dolan, Fitzgerald and substitute Avril Brierly all found the net and wrapped up a thoroughly merited victory for the hosts.

There was brief respite for Sligo Rovers when Emma Doherty surged forward on 65 minutes and confidently rounded the Peamount ‘keeper before slotting to the net.

Sligo Rovers also went close before the end when the crossbar saved the Peamount rearguard.

This was Steve Feeney’s last game in charge and former Athlone Town manager Tommy Hewitt will now take over the reins at the Showgrounds for the 2024 season.

Peamount Utd – Niamh Reid-Burke; Lauryn O’Callaghan, Jetta Berrill, Chloe Moloney, Dearbhaile Beirne, Karen Duggan, Jessica Fitzgerald, Sadhbh Doyle, Erin McLaughlin, Ellen Dolan, Freya Healy.

Subs – Watkins for Healy 53 mins, Avril Brierley for Dolan and Caoimhe Connaughton for Moloney both 64m, Louise Masterson for O’Callaghan and Shannon Thomas for McLaughlin both 83m

Sligo Rovers – Amber Hardy; Leah Kelly, Alice Lillie, Sarah Kiernan, Eimear Lafferty, Emma Hansberry, Lauren Boles, Emma Doherty, Jodie Loughrey, Casey Howe, Keri Loughrey.

Subs – Amy Roddy for Lafferty and Ciara Henry for Kelly both 64 mins, Katie Melly for Howe and Jessica Casey for Hansberry both 80m, Kate Nugent for Boles 85.

Referee – Mark Houlihan.

Rovers win in Feeney’s last home game

Sligo Rovers took the Women’s Premier Division (WPD) points this evening at the Showgrounds with a performance that was laced with character, determination and skill for a 2-1 victory against Dublin side DLR Waves, writes Conall Collier.

First-half goals from Casey Howe and Jodie Loughrey were the platform for success with a battling rearguard action in the second-half that restricted the Dublin side to a 54th minute Cliodhna Donnelly goal.

Sligo Rovers manager Steve Feeney signed off on his last home game as the Bit O’Red turned on the style for a deserved victory that must have encouraged new manager Tommy Hewitt who took a watching brief in the stand.

Feeney will complete his two-year tenure at the helm next weekend in the televised TG4 live game away to 2023 champions Peamount Utd where a victory will move the Bit O’Red up to eighth in the table.

The hosts lined out without Emma Hansberry who was suspended for this game following her dismissal on a second yellow card in the last outing against Shelbourne while the impressive team captain Lauren Boles was making her 50th appearance and both Leah Kelly and Bonnie McKiernan started.

DLR Waves, playing a second game in three days, also had absentees with the trio of Neema Nyangasi, Freya Roche and Robyn Bolger out through injury while Eve Badana and Hannah Tobin-Jones returned to the side.

Sligo Rovers dominated the opening half and were well worth that two-goal interval lead.

There was eight minutes on the clock when Casey Howe rifled a superb effort to the roof of the DLR net after a defence-splitting pass from Emma Doherty created the chance.

Goal number two arrived 10 minutes later and this time Jodie Loughrey applied the finish after good advantage play by referee Michael Connolly.

Sligo Rovers resumed the second-half smartly with Emma Doherty bringing a good save out of Badana while at the other end Eve O’Brien had a good chance for DLR Waves before substitute Cliodhna Donnelly fired home in the 54th minute following hesitant defending by the hosts.

DLR continued to press forward, but lost Eve O’Brien in the 76th minute when she was stretchered-off and was replaced by Nadine Raymond.

However, Emma Doherty had a good chance soon after, but she was denied at the expense of a corner with DLR looking for an offside flag.

For the remainder, the Sligo Rovers players stood strong, although Bonnie McKiernan required attention after making a brave save and there were chances at each end in six minutes of added time, but on this occasion the Bit O’Red battened down the hatches and prevailed.

Sligo Rovers – Bonnie McKiernan; Sarah Kiernan, Alice Lillie, Leah Kelly, Eimear Lafferty, Amy Roddy, Lauren Boles, Jodie Loughrey, Casey Howe, Emma Doherty, Kerri Loughrey. 

Subs – Keeva Flynn for J Loughrey 73 mins, Jessica Casey for Roddy 85m, Ciara Henry for Kelly 88m.

DLR Waves – Eve Badana; Hannah Tobin-Jones, Jess Gleeson, Isobel Finnegan, Rebecca McMahon, Bronagh Kane, Amber Cosgrove, Ruth McDonnell, Michelle Doonan, Eve Conheady, Eve O’Brien.

Subs – Nicole Keogh for Kane, Amy Ryan for McDonnell and Cliodhna Donnelly for Finnegan all half-time, Nadine Raymond for O’Brien 76 mins.

Tommy Hewitt set to take over as women’s manager

Tommy Hewitt will become the new manager of the Sligo Rovers women’s team next month.

Hewitt will take over from Steve Feeney following his decision to step away the role for work and family reasons  

The Athlone native was voted SSE Airtricity Manager of the Year in the Women’s Premier Division in 2022 after leading Athlone Town to second in the League and runners-up in the FAI Cup.

He has served as assistant manager with the Athlone Town men’s team and was also head coach with the Irish Defence Forces team at the Military World Games.

He spent four seasons with Athlone’s women side before opting to resign last June. 

Speaking this afternoon he said: “I’m very pleased to become manager of Sligo Rovers next month.

“I spoke to the committee and the staff at the club when the opportunity arose. The vision and plan Sligo Rovers have for the women’s area of the club was very impressive.

“First and foremost I want to commend Steve Feeney. When he took over at the formation of the team, I was immediately on the phone to him to wish him well and offer any advice that I could and have done during his time. He has done an absolutely fantastic job over the two seasons.

“The foundations that have been laid are another reason why the job is so appealing.  

“I’ve always had the hunger to return to management. I think the break has served me well. I want to build on what has been done already and try to push it on further. For me there is no reason why Sligo Rovers can’t climb the table next season.”

Hewitt retired from playing at 25 due to injury but did play against the club in the 90s to give him some experience of Sligo Rovers.

“I’ve always found The Showgrounds a special place. There’s a really family vibe to the club. You walk in and you feel the history. The club is very well organised, open and always willing to help. They want to back the manager whether it’s the men’s or women’s team. I can see that already because they’ve been very encouraging to try to be as successful as we can in 2024.”

Hewitt had a very fruitful spell with Athlone as manager, becoming their first-ever manager when the team was formed and went on challenge for the two major trophies last year

They won the President’s Cup at the start of this season.

Looking at the Women’s Premier Division overall, he said: “There has been rapid growth and it is exciting times be part of the league.

“There are 11 teams and I feel privileged to be managing a club like Sligo Rovers. It’s a real honour to lead it.

“I know the importance of building on the squad we have here and I will be doing my utmost to do that. That will be my first goal.

“I attend a lot of games in the region so I have seen some matches and I’ve been doing as much research as I can since accepting the role. I will continue to do that when the team play their final two matches, watching on from the stands.”

Steve Feeney, who chairman Tommy Higgins paid tribute to this morning as he stepped away for family reasons, will formally depart on Sunday 11 November. 

Again the club wish to thank Steve for helping in the period of transition.

Higgins added: “I’m delighted to welcome Tommy Hewitt to Sligo Rovers. Tommy’s pedigree within the league speaks for itself and we feel he is the ideal candidate for the position. 

“We will be supporting Tommy and the players as much as we can to continue to develop the women’s team. He shares our ambition for women’s team but also to develop young players through our academy and he will work with Conor O’Grady on that. I think the 2024 season has great promise with Tommy and the players.”

Feeney announces departure at end of season

Sligo Rovers can confirm that manager Steve Feeney will step down from his position at the end of the season due to work and family reasons.

Feeney became manager two years ago following the formation of the Bit O’ Red’s team in the Women’s Premier Division.

He quickly assembled a squad of players and recorded a memorable first season, accumulating 20 points and a stunning 3-2 win over the present champions Shelbourne in The Showgrounds.

This season Feeney’s side reached an FAI Cup semi-final with Athlone Town as over 1,100 fans attended a historic occasion in The Showgrounds.  

Having laid his name in the history of the club by being the first-ever manager of a Sligo Rovers women’s side in the league, he informed the club of his decision to let 2023 be his last season earlier in the year.

He said: “I spoke to the club a few months back to let them know that I would be stepping down. The role is very demanding and with a young family and a work life I had to acknowledge it would have a certain period that I could commit.

“At the time we came to an agreement to continue for the rest of the season. I wanted to give the club time to find a successor most importantly so that there would be a smooth transition.

“I’m very proud that I managed Sligo Rovers firstly. As a former player and Sligo person I know what it means and that I can say I was a player and manager of the club is very special.

“Secondly I’m very proud of the group of players. The first two years just showed how much the region needed this team. There is a very exciting future ahead for women’s football with the club.

“The players have been brilliant. There is a lot of young players and while you want to develop them as players most importantly, it was also great to see them mature as people as well and gain self-belief and realise they are good enough to compete at this level. They will go on to become better and better.”

Speaking about the influence the team has had so far, he said:

“I’ve got three young girls at home who are always asking me about the team so I know first hand the impact the players and Sligo Rovers women have had.

“We have had some tough lessons this season, at times where we let ourselves down, and it will be a learning season. The FAI Cup run was fantastic and it was a very special occasion in the semi-final. I feel the players can go on to create more big days like that.

“I want to thank my backroom team. They have given up so much of their time and brought a level of expertise that we needed. They’ve gone above and beyond at times and it was greatly appreciated.

“I also want to thank the club as well. They’ve been hugely supportive since day one.”

Sligo Rovers chairman Tommy Higgins said: “When we made the decision to join the Women’s Premier Division, we needed a manager who was not only going to lead a team but also going to lay down a marker for the future of our female division.

“Steve has done a magnificent job. He showed enormous commitment and hard work to not only build the team but also bring so many great players to the club and develop them. Together they achieved some tremendous results over the last two years.

“We owe him a debt of gratitude for creating a high-level environment that is in place for his successor and all of the players both now and in the future.

“On behalf of Sligo Rovers I want to thank him for his great contribution to the club and women’s football in the region.” 

Reflecting on his time as manager Steve Feeney concluded “I’ve loved it. Working with a good group of players and management team was hugely enjoyable. The workload was significant but we all shared it as well.

“I will take a break but I certainly hope to return to management in the future when the time is right.”

Sligo Rovers will appoint a new manager shortly.

Preview: Rovers return to league action on Wednesday

There is not much recovery time for Sligo Rovers with a trip to Tolka Park on Wednesday evening to tackle Shelbourne in the Women’s Premier Division (WPD) with a kick-off time scheduled for 7.45pm, writes Conall Collier.

A battling display in front of a crowd of 1,121 last Saturday in the Women’s FAI Cup semi-final against Athlone Town at the Showgrounds in a 4-0 defeat will leave the players determined to make amends when they go to the Dublin venue.

The Shelbourne players will be eager to make an impression on manager Noel King in the build up to the FAI Cup final next month following last Saturday’s 2-0 semi-final victory against Shamrock Rovers at Tallaght Stadium.

Shelbourne booked that FAI Cup final ticket with goals from Christie Gray and Hannah Healy and the players will be focused on getting another victory to sustain momentum with a two-week break before the next outing in the WPD.

On that basis, Sligo Rovers can expect a stern test and manager Steve Feeney will be well aware of the threat that the Dublin women will pose.

Earlier this season Shelbourne hit the Bit O’Red for six goals without reply at the Showgrounds as manager Noel King took a relaxing seat in the stand as he continued to serve a sideline suspension.

Three goals in each half paved the way to victory for Shelbourne and while Sligo Rovers were well beaten over the 90 minutes, the players demonstrated the usual character and determination as they carved out a number of good chances.

Last Saturday Sligo Rovers lost out at the semi-final stage of the FAI Cup as Athlone Town progressed to the decider where they will tackle Shelbourne in a repeat of the 2022 final.

Defensive lapses proved costly for Sligo Rovers, but if the Bit O’Red can reproduce some of the form they displayed in recent outings against Bohemian FC and Cork City, then they will be well-placed to keep the game competitive.

Entry into Tolka Park is free on the night.

Rovers bow out of Cup in semi-final

The Women’s FAI Cup journey ended for Sligo Rovers this evening at the Showgrounds when they exited at the semi-final stage against an Athlone Town side that deserved to win the tie with a brace of goals in each half, writes Conall Collier.

Maddie Gibson was the stand-out player for Athlone and she scored twice in the opening half and then created the openings for another brace in the second-half.

Gibson’s 28th minute penalty gave Athlone the lead and the same player claimed her side’s first goal from play in this season’s competition about 10 minutes later with the benefit of a deflection.

That gave Athlone a solid 2-0 interval platform following an opening 45 minutes which they generally dominated.

Emma Doherty had the best chance for hosts Sligo Rovers in the opening half, but her sixth minute effort was blocked at the expense of a corner by Athlone’s Jesi Lynne Rossman.

 Athlone were smartly out of the traps for the second-half and Rossman added a third goal for the Westmeath wide when she capitalised on a defensive lapse from Gibson’s corner and headed to the net.

With 15 minutes remaining Roisin Molloy added a fourth goal for Athlone as Gibson provided the ammunition with an excellent cross as she did well to keep the ball in play.

Gibson was also named as the player-of-the-match, an accolade she fully deserved.

On a positive note for Sligo Rovers was a crowd of 1,121 at the game which surpassed the previous best of 965 last season for the Bit O’Red.

Next up for Sligo Rovers is a midweek trip to Tolka Park to tackle Shelbourne on Wednesday night.

Sligo Rovers – Bonnie McKiernan; Leah Kelly, Sarah Kiernan, Eimear Lafferty, Alice Lillie, Jodie Loughrey, Lauren Boles, Emma Hansberry, Keri Loughrey, Emma Doherty, Casey Howe.

Subs – Katie Melly for Lillie and Paula McGrory for Kelly both 67 mins, Amy Roddy for Lafferty and Helen Monaghan for Howe both 82m, Jessica Casey for Hansberry 85m

Athlone Town – Katie Keane; Kayleigh Shine, Shauna Brennan, Jesi Lynne Rossman, Dana Scheriff, Chloe Singleton, Kellie Brennan, Laurie Ryan, Lauren Karabin, Roisin Molloy, Madison Gibson.

Subs – Muireann Devaney for Karabin 60 mins, Kate Slevin for Brennan 72m, Gillian Keenan for Rossman and Isabel Ryan for Molloy both 78m.

Referee – Daryl Carolan.

Preview: Cup semi set to enthral Showgrounds

Sligo Rovers are aiming to reach new ground when Athlone Town visit the Showgrounds on Saturday evening for an eagerly anticipated Women’s FAI Cup semi-final, writes Conall Collier.

Going into the contest on the back of a three-game unbeaten sequence augurs well for the Bit O’Red who are also the leading scorers in this season’s competition following that 11-goal haul in the first round against Donegal side Bonagee Utd.

The Rovers followed that success with a superb display at Dalymount Park that produced a 1-0 quarter-final victory against Bohemian FC.

No goals conceded so far, in the competition by the Bit O’Red, but the opposition in this last four encounter can also make that claim, although the Athlone Town players haven’t scored a goal in normal or extra-time, advancing on each occasion via a penalty shoot-out.

It could be suggested that Athlone had a more challenging path to this stage of the competition. 

Galway Utd away were negotiated in the first round and then the Westmeath side disposed of Women’s Premier Division leaders Peamount Utd on home astro-turf in the last eight, again via a penalty shoot-out.

“We had to get over Galway and the reward for that was a quarter-final against Peamount, there was nothing easy about either of those games and I know the players will be determined not to lose out now at the semi-final stage,” commented Athlone Town manager Ciaran Kilduff who took over the reins at the club during the mid-season break.

There is an extra incentive for Athlone to get to the final as the players will want to make amends for the disappointment of losing last year’s decider to Shelbourne and they will also be eager to pick up a second piece of silverware for 2023.

Athlone Town kicked-off the new season last February in fine style when winning the club’s first trophy following another penalty shoot-out victory, this time against Shelbourne, in the inaugural playing of the President’s Cup.
Athlone Town hosted Sligo Rovers in the first game back after the mid-season break in mid-August and on that occasion took the Women’s Premier Division points with a 2-0 victory with first-half goals from Dana Scheriff and Chloe Singleton.

With players of the calibre of Madison Gibson and Sligo native Roisin Molloy also in the team, Athlone will be determined to extend their three-game unbeaten sequence after winning again last weekend.

Jesi Rossman netted her first goal for Athlone and that was sufficient to earn a 1-0 victory against DLR Waves last Saturday, the same day that Sligo Rovers played out a 3-3 draw at the Showgrounds against Cork City.

Bit O’Red manager Steve Feeney is well aware of the task facing his players, but he believes that home advantage can give the team a major boost.

“It would be brilliant for the players to have the backing of a large vocal support, I’ve experienced that Showgrounds atmosphere as a player and it does make a big difference to have the crowd behind you in a game like this,” he said.

Last weekend’s result against Cork City saw the positive and negative traits of Sligo Rovers. Leading by 3-0 at the interval, they then conceded three goals in the second-half and had to settle for a point.

The lessons learned from that experience and the evidence of previous results against Bohemian FC in both the FAI Cup quarter-final and the Women’s Premier Division suggest that the Sligo Rovers players possess the ability to cope with any opposition provided a consistent performance is produced.

Kick-off at the Showgrounds on Saturday is 6pm. Tickets are available at turnstiles and the game will be available on LOITV.

Preview: Rovers chase another win in Showgrounds

Sligo Rovers will go into this Saturday’s Women’s Premier Division (WPD) game against bottom-of-the-table Cork City aiming for a third successive victory, writes Conall Collier.

Kick-off is 5pm with tickets available at turnstiles.

Central to that level of expectation is recent form that has delivered a two-game unbeaten run following what was a nine-game sequence without a victory between the WPD and Avenir Sports Cup.

There will be huge determination amongst the Sligo Rovers players to extend that winning form this Saturday at the Showgrounds in order to boost confidence for the following weekend’s FAI Cup semi-final against Athlone Town.

Bit O’Red manager Steve Feeney has a couple of players on the doubtful list, but he is eagerly looking forward to another home game.

“We are monitoring Casey Howe and Sarah Kiernan and hopefully they will be available for selection, but we have a strong panel and everyone wants to get a run to show what they can do ahead of the FAI Cup game,” stated Steve.

“We have always tried to focus on the performance of the team in any game, we have always believed that if we get that right, then we will always have a chance in any game we play.

“We have had a tough season up until a few weeks ago so we know what it’s like for the Cork City players, they’re on a bad run, they haven’t won in the League, but they had some good results in the Avenir Sports Cup.

“They got to the semi-final after beating Treaty, DLR Waves and Crusaders in the Group and then they were edged out in the last four by Cliftonville.

“I have no doubt that Cork will take something out of the way that we have turned around our season and they will view this as an opportunity to get some points on the board. They will provide tough opposition for us.

“They didn’t have a game last weekend due to the weather, but that could work in their favour and it will leave them a bit fresher than us.

“It’s important for us to pick up another three points, we want to keep the momentum going and finish the season strong, our next test is on Saturday and that’s where our focus is at the moment,” he added.

Last week’s 4-1 victory for Sligo Rovers against Bohemian FC saw a brace of second-half goals from substitute Paula McGrory that effectively sealed the victory.

Her return along with Emma Hansberry and Lauren Boles has added some much-needed strength and stability to what is a young team.

Cork City will be looking to players of the calibre of Christina Dring, Eva Mangan and Ellie O’Brien for goals on Saturday ahead of the game at Turner’s Cross the following weekend against Treaty Utd.

Cork City manager Danny Murphy will set a target of two wins, starting on Saturday, that would move his team away from the foot of the table.

When the sides met at Turner’s Cross last May, two first half Casey Howe goals gave the Bit O’Red a 2-0 victory and a first win of the season.

Kick-off at the Showgrounds is at 5pm and the game is available to view on LOITV.

Rovers record first home league win of the season




Sligo Rovers scored four goals for the first time in the Women’s Premier Division and that helped them to a first home win of the season with an impressive performance against Bohemian FC this evening, writes Conall Collier.

Two second-half goals from Paula McGrory and one each in the opening 45 minutes by Keri Loughrey and Sarah Kiernan paved the way to victory with Lynn Craven briefly giving the visitors a lifeline with a speculative 65th minute strike that made it 2-1.

This was the first of three successive home games for the Bit O’Red with bottom-of-the-table Cork City due to visit the Showgrounds next Saturday ahead of an eagerly-awaited FAI Cup semi-final against Athlone Town on Saturday 14th October.

While this was an encouraging performance this evening, manager Steve Feeney will now concentrate on keeping the players focused solely on the next game.

However, after going through a campaign that produced one WPD win out of the previous 15 outings, it certainly looks as if the lessons that were dispensed in some of those encounters have moulded the team into a more solid outfit.

The return of Lauren Boles, Emma Hansberry and Paula McGrory is also a factor and two wins in-a-row will also boost the confidence of the players.

Sligo Rovers made the best possible start and had the ball in the back of the Bohemian FC net after only six minutes when Keri Loughrey finished well.

Emma Hansberry had a shot well saved by Rachael Kelly soon after and the hosts remained in the ascendancy without too much difficulty.

Jodi Loughrey was involved in many positive moves for the Bit O’Red, but there was a fortuitous second goal when Sarah Kiernan’s 30th minute corner looped into the net for a 2-0 advantage.

That prompted the Dublin women into action and they created three good chances late in the half through Katherine Malone with two efforts and Katie Lovely.

Both sides went in search of goals in the second-half and Sligo Rovers lost Leah Kelly when she was hit with the ball and had to be assisted from the pitch close to the hour mark with Paula McGrory deputising.

The Dublin women got back into the game briefly when Lynn Craven scored a delightful goal with a speculative effort from distance that looped over Bonnie McKiernan.

Sligo Rovers weathered the storm and more or less sealed the victory when McCrory found the net from a Katie Melly pass with 12 minutes remaining.

Emma Doherty then brought a good save out of Rachael Kelly, but the Bohs ‘keeper had to pick the ball out of the net again in the 86th minute when McGrory claimed her second goal of the evening to wrap up a comprehensive victory.

Sligo Rovers – Bonnie McKiernan; Alice Lillie, Sarah Kiernan, Leah Kelly, Eimear Lafferty, Jodie Loughrey, Emma Hansberry, Lauren Boles, Keri Loughrey, Emma Doherty, Casey Howe.

Subs – Keeva Flynn for Kiernan 52 mins, Paula McGrory for Kelly 56m, Katie Melly for Howe 62m, Ciara Henry for Hansberry and Jessica Casey for J Loughrey both 88m.

Bohemian FC – Rachael Kelly; Lynn Craven, Katie Burdis, Lisa Murphy, Ciara Maher, Fiona Donnelly, Kira Bates-Crosbie, Mia Dodd, Katie Lovely, Katherine Malone, Rachel McGrath.

Subs – Niamh Prior for McGrath and Abbie O’Hara for Bates-Crosbie both 59 mins, Anna Hegarty for Dodd and Sadhbh Moran for Burdis both 88m.

Referee – Michael Connolly.

Assistant-referees – Ciaran O’Reilly, Richard Storey.

Fourth Official – John McLoughlin.