“It’s great to be coming into form at the right time of the season.” Angela Buckley has been an ever-present between the sticks for Larne this season and has been the calming and reliable presence for the Inver Women as they approach the business end of a season that sees them in both a title race and in two cup competitions.
“We had a poor result against Ballymena straight after the break there a couple of weeks ago but to follow that with two wins is exactly what we needed and all of the girls are really pleased with our reaction.”
Since that defeat against the Sky Blues at Inver – which clearly stung players and coaches alike – William Noble’s side have defeated St. Oliver Plunkett in West Belfast to advance to the PWC Super Cup semi-final followed two days later by a 4-0 home victory over Foyle Belles. This put them level on points at the top of the NIWFA Championship table with their Shanes Hill rivals with just three games to go. Foyle will also be the opponents in the Super Cup semi-final at Inver Park on 15th August.
Buckley, who joined from Lisburn Ladies at the start of this season, says that she is enjoying her football more than ever this year.
“Lisburn have a great set-up and I did enjoy my time there but this is the most consistent run of games that I’ve had and the attention to detail that William (Noble), Gary (Hood) and Bradley (McAdam) put into training and matches is incredible.”
Buckley and her team-mates have two games this week, first travelling north to take on Coleraine in league action tomorrow (Wednesday) followed by an Electric Ireland Cup tie at home to Craigavon City on Friday.
Larne have made reasonably light work of the newly-promoted and youthful Bannsiders this season with an 8-0 success at home followed by a 14-0 win in the reverse fixture. However, the Larne number 1 says they will not be underestimating their opponents.
“We have been working hard in training and will not be taking Coleraine for granted, particularly at this time of the season where every game matters so much. We have seen all season that there are no easy games in this league.”
Likewise with Craigavon, who are four tiers below the Inver Women. They are, however, top of the NIWFA Division 4 with a perfect 10 wins from 10 and Buckley knows that they will be coming to Inver Park full of confidence and looking to cause an upset.
“Having a cup run in the Super Cup has been brilliant and we want another one in the Electric Ireland Cup so we will be full tilt against Craigavon. There is a real potential for a banana skin there if we aren’t 100%.”
Speaking in broader terms, Buckley is delighted with the coverage and support for the recently concluded Women’s Euros – won by England of course.
“It was incredible to see 87,000 at Wembley for the final and Northern Ireland qualifying for the first time was brilliant. I was so pleased for the girls, including my old Cliftonville teammate Marissa Callaghan.
Hopefully, it will encourage more young girls to play football and that you can play on the same sort of stage as the men. I remember going to football camps when I was younger and being the only girl! Let’s hope that the Euros can encourage the next generation.”
That is most definitely a sentiment to get behind and let’s all get behind the Inver Women on their title run-in and upcoming cup ties. It’s sure to be an exciting few weeks!