Kilkenny United Women’s Football Club is an Irish women’s football team, based in Kilkenny. In July 2015 the Football Association of Ireland (FAI) announced the formation of the club as an expansion team for the 2015–16 Women’s National League season.
The club played its first match on 19 July 2015, hosting Glasgow Celtic at Buckley Park. Ahead of the first WNL season experienced campaigner Sylvia Gee was signed, to add experience to a youthful squad.
Prior to the commencement of the 2015/16 Women's National League season, Noel Kealy was appointed as manager of the club. He brought a lot of experience to a newly formed club as the former Peamount coach took the helm at Kilkenny United. Noel was joined by Declan Bollard (Director of Football), John McClean (Assistant Manager) and Elaine Casey (Head of Youth Coaching), making up the management team at the club for the 2015/16 season.
In Gameweek 8 of the 2015-16 season, Kilkenny United recorded their first ever draw and put their first ever point on the table. They drew 1-1 with Cork City W.F.C. on a wet and windy day at Mayfield Community School Cork.
Unfortunately for Kilkenny, that was how their debut season in the Women's National League ended. Results aside, the season provided the players, coaches and staff at Kilkenny United a true insight into what it takes to compete in the Women's National League.
Kilkenny recorded their first win in the 2016 season when they were drawn against Lakewood in the Quarter Final of the FAI Women’s Senior Cup. Kilkenny came away 3-1 winners with goals from, Jenny O’Keeffe, Niamh Kelly and Hannah Scott. Kilkenny United commenced to the semi finals of the cup but lost out to a strong Wexford Youths W.F.C. in the semi finals.
The 2017 season didn’t start as planned as Kilkenny went through numerous managers before finally getting the right man for the job on June 20, 2017. Kilkenny United appointed Casey McQuillan who had much experience in the league from previously managing Shelbourne L.F.C. and Raheny United FC.
On July 9, 2017, history was made for Kilkenny in Thomastown when Kilkenny won their first ever game in the Women’s National League. They beat Galway W.F.C. 1-0 which was a very historic day for the club. The Kilkenny goal came from Leanne Tumelty.
Kilkenny also recorded a win in the 1st Round of the FAI Women’s Senior Cup when they beat TEK United 3:1. Kilkenny’s goals were scored by Jennifer Chambers (X2) and Sylvia Gee. Kilkenny were drawn against UCD Waves in the Quarter Finals of the cup but lost out to the eventual runners up.
Kilkenny United Reserves team reached the Final of the Metropolitan Girls League Senior Cup after beating Shelbourne FC 2-1 in the Semi-Final of the competition.
At the start of the 2018 season Casey McQuillan stepped down as manager of the club. Shane Murray took charge of the club for the 2018 season. Kilkenny started off the 2018 season at debutants Limerick WFC and were beaten 4–0. Unfortunately, Kilkenny only managed to record two draws in the Women's National League Campaign with a 2-2 draw at home to Limerick WFC, and a 1-1 draw at home to Galway WFC, finishing the league campaign with 2 points on the board. The sole victory for the young National League side came at the hands of Wilton United FC in the first round of the Women's FAI Senior Cup. Kilkenny came away with the
1-0 win with the deciding goal coming from Kayla Cooling. Kilkenny put up a great fight against Peamount United in the Quarter Final of the competition but unfortunately went down 2-0 to the eventual beaten finalists.
In 2018, the club also introduced an Under 16 team. This team competed in the Kilkenny & District League. This team ran alongside the ever present youths team which competed in the Metropolitan Girls League.
Kilkenny United WFC Under 19's Girls continued to succeed in the Metropolitan Girls League. Many of the girls were awarded the opportunity of signing for the Kilkenny United WNL squad ahead of the 2019 season. Many others took the opportunity to join other U19 and U17 Women's National League sides. Kilkenny United also entered an Under 16's team in the MGL for the 2019 Season.
Prior to losing players to various WNL senior, 17s and 19s sides, the Kilkenny United WFC U19s squad had managed to qualify for the Final of the Carlie Fitzgerald Memorial MGL Cup. Kilkenny United needed to field a team with mostly Under 16 players for the final. The girls battled hard in the final but it wasn't to be on the day as Bohemian FC came away with the victory.
The 2019 WNL season saw Kane Lynch appointed as manager of the Kilkenny United Women's National League team. He remained at the club until August 4th 2019. Stephen Gray took interim charge of the team alongside Chris Richards and Jason Doyle before James Dermody was appointed new manager at the club on August 19th 2019.
Two back to back draws away to DLR Waves (1-1) and home to Cork City WFC (1-1), meant that Kilkenny United ended the season with 2 points on the table.
A 3-1 defeat at home to Limerick WFC meant that Kilkenny United were eliminated from the 2019 Women's FAI Senior Cup in the First Round.
Towards the end of the 2019 season, Kilkenny United expressed their interest and applied for an Under 17 Girls Women's National League Licence citing their hopes to promote the game at a younger level and create a clear pathway for young girls in Kilkenny and surrounding areas to Senior Women's National League football. To the disappointment of all involved with Kilkenny United WFC, the FAI refused the licence.
In December 2019, Kilkenny United WFC were informed by the FAI that Kilkenny United would be removed from the Women's National League with immediate effect ahead of the 2020 season. The decision was appealed by Kilkenny United WFC but the FAI Womens Football Committee decided to back the FAI's original decision. A club statement by club chairman Shane Murray, following Kilkenny's removal from the WNL can be found HERE.
Although it was a hugely heartbreaking setback for Kilkenny United WFC, the removal from the WNL was never going to be the end of the club. In fact, it allowed us to start again, building up from the bottom, ensuring that we had a strong underage structure in place at the club. Kilkenny United Academy returned in January 2020 with both boys and girls aged 4-13 taking part.
As the COVID-19 Pandemic hit in 2020, football was put to a standstill. This didn't stop the tireless work that went on behind the scenes at Kilkenny United WFC to ensure that the Academy players were kept busy as the players practiced their skills at home, sending videos onto our media officers who created videos of the kids for our social media including special goal re-creations and spinner challenges to name but a few. All of which can be found on our social media pages!
Upon the easing of COVID-19 restrictions, the newly
re-formed Kilkenny United WFC Senior Women's Team began training again and took to the field for the first time on August 23rd 2020, taking on Newpark AFC in a very entertaining friendly game.
The Kilkenny United WFC all girls academy began on December 6th 2020 in The Watershed Kilkenny. Beginning with just 9 participants aged 4-12, the academy soon began to grow as word spread. And that's how the Kilkenny United WFC underage girls setup began!
As COVID-19 continued to cause havoc around the world, and Ireland went into another lockdown, footballing activity was once again put on hold.
On June 6th 2021, Kilkenny United WFC announced that they had been accepted into the Wexford Women's and Schoolgirls League for the Return to Football Summer League. Teams competed at Under 12 and Senior Women Levels.
The Kilkenny United Under 12s Girls took to the field for their first ever game together on June 18th 2021, as they welcomed Dungarvan United to The Watershed. It was a very proud moment for all involved with Kilkenny United WFC, as the girls took to the field for their first ever game together.
The Senior Women were placed in the Premier Division, coming up against some of the best players in Wexford. It was a real eye opener as to what grassroots football clubs in Wexford had to offer. The summer season was of a huge benefit to the squad as they prepared for their first full season together in the Wexford Womens League.
The Under 12s Girls had a great Summer season. It was a great preparation for the 2021 Winter Season in the Wexford Women's and Schoolgirls League. The Kilkenny United Under 12 Girls reached the Final of the Wexford Under 12's Summer Shield, beating Arklow Town 3-1 and bringing some silverware back to Kilkenny as they prepared for their first full season in the Wexford Women's and Schoolgirls League.
As planned, Kilkenny United entered the Wexford Women's and Schoolgirls League ahead of the 2021/22 Season. Teams competed in the league at Under 10, 11, 12 and Senior Women levels. All teams entered an initial playoff competition to decide the leagues in which they'd complete in. Following this inital competition, it was decided that the Under 11s and 12s Girls would compete in the Premier Division of their respective competitions and the Senior Women would compete in Division 2.
In April 2022, a Kilkenny United OTF Academy XI and Kilkenny United Under 11's Girls Squad travelled over to the UK on a football trip. It was a great experience for the players who get the opportunity to witness what it's like to compete against the likes of Manchester United and Liverpool.
April 12th 2022- Formby FC v Kilkenny United OTF Academy XI
April 13th 2022- Manchester United U11 Girls v Kilkenny United U11 Girls
April 14th 2022- River Juniors FC v Kilkenny United OTF Academy XI
April 14th 2022- Liverpool FC U11 Girls v Kilkenny United U11 Girls
April 15th 2022- Training Session with Stoke City FC Community Coaches
During the May Bank Holiday weekend, Kilkenny United hosted an 84 team tournament over a 3 day period in United Park Thomastown. Teams from all over Ireland were welcomed to United Park over the 3 day period. It was a massive event for the club with 28 teams competing each day. The run of play was as follows:
April 30th: Under 10 Girls & Under 12 Girls
May 1st: Under 11 Girls & Under 13 Girls
May 2nd: Under 9 Boys & Under 11 Boys
Competing in division 2 of the Wexford Women's League, the Kilkenny United Senior Women's Team finished 2nd in the division for the 2021/22 season.
The Kilkenny United Under 11's Girls reached the U11 Wexford Cup Final after defeating Curracloe United 2-1 after extra time in the Semi-Final. They came up against Ballindaggin FC in the Final. It was all going well for Kilkenny, leading 1-0 through a Freya Pender goal but with 5 minutes left on the clock Ballindaggin equalised. 2 minutes later Ballindaggin took the lead and won the final 2-1. The Under 11's were also within touching distance of forcing a playoff for the Premier Division League title. Unfortunately for Kilkenny it wasn't to be as Curracloe claimed the victory on the final day of the season to crown themselves champions of a wide open, highly contested Wexford Under 11's Girls Premier Division.
The Under 12's had a great season, competing at a high level in the Wexford Under 12 Girls Premier Division. Although they didn't come away with any silverware, like the Under 11's, the Under 12's Premier Division was a highly contested division in which Kilkenny United were in the mix for.
Ahead of the 2022/23 season, Kilkenny United entered teams at Under 8/9, 13 and 14 levels on top of the under 10s, 11s and 12s who had already entered the Wexford Schoolgirls league for the 2021/22 season. This allowed Kilkenny United to cater for girls aged 5 to 14. The Women's team decided not to enter the league ahead of the 2022/23 season.
In April 2023, a Kilkenny United OTF Academy U14s XI Squad and Kilkenny United Under 12's Girls Squad travelled over to Glasgow. Like 2022, it was an unbelievable experience for both squads. Both squads got the opportunity to play against top opponents in unbelievable facilities around Scotland and England.
April 2nd 2023- Boths Squads got the opportunity to train in Lennoxtown, the training Centre for Celtic FC Mens First Team
April 3rd 2023- Heart of Midlothian FC U14 Boys v Kilkenny United Academy U14 XI
April 3rd 2023- Heart of Midlothian FC U12 Girls 2-2 Kilkenny United WFC U12 Girls (Sophia O'Dwyer x2)
April 4th 2023- Rangers FC U15 Boys 0-0 Kilkenny United Academy U14 XI
April 4th 2023- Glasgow Girls & Women FC 2-1 Kilkenny United WFC U12 Girls (Kate Conroy, Sophia O'Dwyer)
April 5th 2023- Wigan Athletic FC U12 Girls 0-4 Kilkenny United WFC U12 Girls (Sophia O'Dwyer, Kate Conroy x2, Ellie O'Neill)
During the May Bank Holiday weekend, for the second year running, Kilkenny United hosted their now annual tournament in United Park Thomastown. The amount of teams increased to 94 teams this year. Similar to 2022, two age groups competed on the same day with 16 teams in each age group. Teams from all over Ireland were welcomed to United Park over the 3 day period. The run of play was as follows:
April 29th: Under 10 Girls & Under 12 Girls
April 30th: Under 11 Girls & Under 13 Girls
May 1st: Under 10 Boys & Under 12 Boys
The Kilkenny United Under 8's-10's category continued to increase in numbers throughout the season. The under 9's took part in various blitzes throughout the season and the under 10's played a variety of opponents in the Wexford Schoolgirls League in a non-competitive environment.
Following a number of non-competitive games, Kilkenny United Under 11's (mostly made up of Under 9s/10s players) were placed in Division 2 of the Wexford Under 11's Schoolgirls League. With 4 games to play against All Blacks AFC, St Josephs AFC, Gorey Rangers FC and Rosslare Rangers, Kilkenny United came away with the Under 11's Division 2 League title, winning 4 games from 4. The girls also reached the Semi-Final of the Wexford Under 11's Cup, losing out to Premier Division side Coolboy Rangers on a scoreline of 3-1.
The Under 12's Girls had a dream season in the SFAI Trophy. After losing out to fellow Wexford League opponents Curracloe United in the 2nd Round of the SFAI Cup, Kilkenny moved into the SFAI Trophy competition. The girls managed to reach the final of the competition, sadly losing out to Home Farm FC. It was an unbelievable achievement for the players, coaches and of course the club in general. The underage girls teams are only going 2 years at Kilkenny United and to reach an All Ireland Final in that length of time is phenomenal.
Kilkenny United WFC’s Road to the Final:
SFAI National Trophy- South East Region
Round 1- Highview Athletic 0-4 Kilkenny United WFC
Round 2- Kilkenny United 3-2 Dungarvan United (AET)
SFAI National Trophy- National Stage
Round of 32- Kilkenny United WFC 3-0 Bealnamulla LFC
Round of 16- Kilkenny United WFC 1-1 Wesport United FC (AET)- Kilkenny Win 3-2 on Penalties
Quarter Final- Kilkenny United WFC 4-0 Springfield Ramblers FC
Semi Final- Kilkenny United WFC 2-1 Passage AFC
Final- Kilkenny United WFC 1-3 Home Farm FC
Kilkenny United WFC Squad: Mia Coogan, Laura Mahon, Amy Dwyer, Sophia O’Dwyer, Aoibhe Meegan, Chloe Collins, Amenatou Toure, Lauren Kelly, Charlene Meagher, Kate Conroy, Freya Pender, Gráinne McDonald, Breanna Kelly, Robyn Kirwan Meagher
Backroom Staff: Shane Murray (Manager), James O’Callaghan (Goalkeeper Coach), Paul Mahon (Coach), Aliyah O’Donoghue (Coach), Simon Pender (Coach), Oisín Ronan (Public Relations Officer), Keith O’Toole (Communications), Vanessa Murray (Secretary)
The Under 12 Girls also reached the Semi-Finals of the Under 12 Wexford Cup, losing out to Gorey Rangers on penalties after drawing 1-1 after extra time.
The Kilkenny United Under 13's Girls remain in contention for a League and Cup double in the Wexford U13's Cup and Wexford U13 League Premier Division. With only one league game left to play away to Curracloe United, a win would seal the league title for Kilkenny United. In terms of the Wexford cup, Kilkenny United take on Division 1 Champions Courtown Hibs in the Final. Kilkenny United were held to a 1-1 draw after extra time away to New Ross Town in the Semi-Final but came away with the victory following penalty shootout heroics from Amy Dwyer in the Kilkenny goal and some super, well taken penalty kicks.
Kilkenny United Under 14 Girls finished 3rd in the Wexford U14 Girls Division 2B league. They also reached the Semi-Final of the Wexford U14 Cup losing out to New Ross Town. A great achievement for the Kilkenny United girls considering the squad is made up of mostly Under 12 and 13 players.