A new season and a new division for our Ladies Olympic side, as they moved from Division 4 to Division 3A.
This is the second season of our Larne Ladies Olympic team, one which has been created to help build a pathway for young players moving up from the Youth section to give them a platform to grow into senior Ladies football.
Our Olympic side also gives them an opportunity to play alongside established senior players within the club who can move between first team and Olympic team duties. We caught up with Manager, Gary Hood, and some of the players to talk through their season so far.
Vice Captain Aimee Shiels said this: “The Olympic team has had a great start over the past two years and it has been amazing to see the team go from strength to strength. The team is a great stepping stone for younger players to gain experience of senior football as well as providing a healthy competitive environment for spots on the team for Larne Ladies as a whole. The team spirit is second to none which makes it even more enjoyable – I have loved playing for the Olympic.”
Speaking on their season so far, manager Gary Hood added: “This season began with a short pre-season due to the ongoing pandemic, and we went unbeaten in the three games they played before the condensed league kicked off, the very first in Northern Ireland.
“Our league campaign began at home to 22nd Ladies and it was a great performance by the girls, with some great attacking football, which saw them begin with three points. This was followed up with another three points on the road to Carnmoney in a toughly fought match that showed a lot of determination and hard work from the girls.
“Our next league match was at home to Camlough, a spirited display showed how well our team can set up defensively although we were unlucky not to take some chances that came our way which saw the team have their first defeat since the restart of football as they went down by a single goal. Looking back at this result the girls can be proud as Camlough have blew the other teams in the league away and haven’t failed to score any less than eight against the other teams in the league thus far.
“After this, it was a home draw in the Cup against Ballymacash, who currently play in the division above, and played in the same league as our first team last season. The girls played some fantastic football, both attacking and defensively but were held to a draw over the ninety minutes, under current guidelines the game went straight to penalties and this resulted in us going out of the cup in the harshest of ways.
“Our most recent game was in the league against Ballynahinch, unfortunately it was just one of those nights for the team as they went down to a two-goal deficit, albeit against a team who were three divisions above the girls last season.
“The girls have really given there all in this shortened season and I couldn’t be prouder of them. Each game has been a learning curve in many ways for all our players, from playing attractive attacking football, to having to be disciplined against a good attacking team, learning in victory and learning in defeat.
“It has been a step up in class of opposition this year and will stand the girls in good stead for a competitive return next season and for the final three games of this season.”
Paula Mitchel is the side’s captain and she reflects on plenty of positivity in the camp.
She said: “It has been a great season for us so far, we have come up against some hard teams in both the league and Cup.
“We’ve had a few great wins and there have been a few times we haven’t walked away with the result we felt like we deserved but I really feel we’ve come a long way as a team!
“We will use this season to learn, take all the positives and negatives from all the matches we’ve played and use it to strengthen us. We’re still growing and we still have a lot to learn but this is the first time some of our younger players that have filtered up through the youth teams have played at senior level, so seeing them develop as players and their confidence grow is amazing.
“We’re so lucky to have such an amazing pool of players to choose from and I’m confident there are big things to come from our squad.”
There have been two players who have come through the youth setup and have made their debuts in senior football this season, Hannah Massey, who is 15-years-old, and Abbie Quinn, at 14.
We asked them how they have felt about the step up to senior football so far. Hannah, “I was honestly so nervous when I got to the age where I could start training and playing with the Olympic team, but I didn’t need to be, all the girls are brilliant mentors and they all made me feel very welcome. The football is definitely at a higher level than what I had previously experienced, but the team still manages to make it so much fun and enjoyable.”
Abbie said: “When I first started training with the senior squad I was instantly made to feel more than welcome by the senior players in the squad who are constantly encouraging me and the other young players in the team. It was a big step up from junior football but with the experience of the players and coaches around me, my ability is improving all the time. I have really enjoyed both the training sessions and the matches and I hope to be playing senior football at Larne Football Club for a long time.”
Larne Ladies Olympic are in action again on Sunday 4th October as they travel to take on Dromara Village Ladies, with a 3pm kick-off.