Preview: Rovers women set for last home match

It’s the last home game of the Women’s Premier Division (WPD) season for Sligo Rovers and a big occasion for manager Steve Feeney who will step down from his role next weekend due to work and family reasons after the final game of 2023 away to Peamount Utd, writes Conall Collier.

The players will be determined to make it a memorable occasion for Steve who will be taking charge of the team for a 53rd competitive game and a victory will be the target.

The Bit O’Red welcome DLR Waves and manager Laura Heffernan to the Showgrounds for what is the final game of the season for the Dublin side who have a bye next weekend due to the odd number (11) of teams in the WPD.

The Waves completed their home campaign with a rescheduled game on Wednesday night at the Belfield Bowl against Shamrock Rovers and in that contest, they featured only six of the team that started in the 3-0 victory against the Bit O’Red last April.

Neema Nyangasi and Robyn Bolger both missed the midweek contest through injury while Hannah Tobin-Jones and Nicole Keogh were absent due to work commitments in what was the last home game of the season for the Dublin women.

The quick turnaround, with only Thursday and Friday to recover, could have an impact on the DLR performance at the Showgrounds, but the Waves will be eager to add another victory to the four already achieved between this season and last season against Sligo Rovers.

DLR produced an encouraging performance on Wednesday night although they ended up on the wrong end of a 3-1 scoreline.

The game was scoreless for close to 70 minutes as DLR absorbed a lot of pressure without too much difficulty, but then they conceded twice in 10 minutes.

However, in the 82nd minute, DLR substitute Ruth McDonnell gave her side a lifeline with an opportunist finish, but that was as good as it got and the concession of a third goal two minutes from time left it 12 WPD defeats for the season.

When the sides met last April, there were plenty of positives for the Bit O’Red in the opening half, but they failed to capitalise on a couple of good chances before Jess Gleeson gave DLR the lead in first-half added time.

DLR then dominated the second-half, but had to wait until the 76th minute for goal number two which arrived from substitute Sarah McKevitt’s long-range effort and then another substitute, Michelle Doonan, added a third goal with eight minutes remaining.

Sligo Rovers currently sit in ninth position, five points adrift of DLR Waves in eighth, and if the hosts can produce the type of form that saw them defeat Bohemian FC by 4-1 in the WPD at the Showgrounds at the end of September, then the target of three points is a realistic goal.

Sligo Rovers scored four against Bohemian FC and three against Cork City in the last two WPD games at the Showgrounds with Paula McGrory (two), Emma Doherty (two), Sarah Kiernan, Keri Loughrey and Casey Howe all finding the net.

Jodie Loughrey returns from a week with the Republic of Ireland at the UEFA European WU19 Championship Qualifiers.

Last time out, the Bit O’Red conceded a 90th minute winner against Shelbourne at Tolka Park after a battling performance that saw them lead at the interval from an Emma Hansberry strike.

If that form can be reproduced against DLR Waves, then there are reasonable prospects of a first victory against the Dublin side and an appropriate way to conclude Steve Feeney’s role at the helm ahead of next weekend’s televised (TG4) game against the newly-crowned champions Peamount Utd.