Galway WFC open with strengthened squad against cup holders Cork

Galway WFC return to action on Sunday with the opening round of the 2018 Women's National League campaign.

Galway will face Cork City in Eamonn Deacy Park on Sunday (2pm ) in the league which has been expanded to eight teams, with Limerick being the latest to join.

Galway, five years on and now under manager and former United player Billy Clery, have strengthened their squad considerably.

Two USA players, Carlie Schecht and Emma Starr, and both are expected to make their competitive debuts in Sunday's match, while three underage stars from Cregmore Claregalway FC, Aoife Thompson, Andrea Trill and Sinead Donovan, have been instrumental in Cregmore’s underage success and now step up to senior level.

A University of New Haven senior, Carlie Schecht, from Long Island, New York, was named the West Haven Chargers' Most Valuable Player for 2016-17. Schech, a midfielder/defender, started all of the 68 games in which she played last season.

She is joined by fellow American Emma Starr, who hails from the Mason Patriots at George Mason University in Virginia. She completed an internship at the Manchester International Football Academy before playing soccer in England for three months, and has worked as a strength and conditioning coach/personal trainer.

The newcomers will certainly boost Galway's hopes after a disappointing sixth place finish last season with five wins from 18 fixtures. Along with Aislinn Meaney, who made her senior international debut against Portugal, Meabh de Burca, Lisa Casserly, and Shauna Fox, there is a growing maturity to Clery's side this season. In addition there are promising youngsters who have represented Ireland - Sadhbh Doyle, who started in a number of friendlies for the U19s, and Lucia Lobatto who was called up to the Irish U17 squad to face Denmark.

Sunday's fixture will provide Galway with an early barometer, particularly against a Cork City side that has now fully integrated with the men's club. They were very much the surprise package last season, winning the FAI Cup in the process. They too have strengthened their squad during the close season, capturing former Galway star Savannah McCarthy from Glasgow City.

Galway WFC squad: Louise Creaven, Carlie Schecht, Shauna Fox, Meabh De Burca, Lisa Casserly, Sadbh Doyle, Aislinn Meaney, Lynsey McKey, Emma Starr, Ellie Rose O'Flaherty, Lucia Lobatto, Chloe Singleton, Aoife Thompson, Andrea Trill, Sinead Donovan, Rachel Baynes, Tessa Mullins, Tina Hughes, Carloline Carter, Lucy Hannon.

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