Squad rotation is key to Pea’s good start

By Daire Walsh

Tiegan Ruddy believes squad rotation has been the key factor behind Peamount United’s perfect opening to their Women’s National League campaign.

Despite his side backing up an opening day victory over Wexford Youths with a similar triumph against Shelbourne, Peas manager James O’Callaghan rang the changes for last Saturday’s trip to Bohemians.

Peamount V Shelbourne 07 1

Peamount captain Aine O’Gorman will have a vital role to play this season for Peamount United

Ruddy was one of five players to come into the starting line-up and she responded by scoring the first goal in an eventual 3-0 success at the expense of the Gypsies.

Substitute Eleanor Ryan-Doyle subsequently added her third goal in as many games, before Rebecca Watkins rounded off a satisfactory day’s work for the three in-a-row chasing champions.

“We have an absolutely great squad at Peamount this year. Competition for places is crazy. In training, you can’t really fault anyone really too much. It’s really competitive, so I think he has to rotate it,” Ruddy explained.

“The other girls that came in there on Saturday, I thought they were brilliant, but nothing against the girls that were dropped at all. I think you just have to rotate with a squad that’s that good. I thought the first half was tough to be fair, they set up well. I think we just couldn’t really get over the line with a goal.

“Once we got the first goal I think we settled into it really well and started playing better football. We just calmed down a bit and we just grew in confidence. Got the ball down on the ground more, which suits us better. We just settled into the game really then.”

Selected in central midfield for last weekend’s visit to the Oscar Traynor Centre on the northside of Dublin, Ruddy found herself lining up alongside Karen Duggan. Now in a second spell at Peamount, the Kilkenny native (a former Republic of Ireland international with 35 caps to her name) is proving to be a real inspiration for the 21-year-old Ruddy.

“Having Karen there to anchor the midfield, it gave me a bit more of a licence to go a bit further up ahead of her. Karen is just a dream to learn off. I’m always picking up things from her in training, just the way she uses her body and everything. She’s just great, someone that I really look up to.”

Given Peamount have already defeated their two main title challengers in recent seasons - Wexford and Shelbourne - they will be red-hot favourites to extend their unbeaten start to the season against Treaty United at Jackman Park this coming Sunday (kick-off 2pm).

Nevertheless, Ruddy and the rest of the Peamount squad will afford the Limerick outfit the same level of respect as every team they will face in this year’s WNL.

“I think it will be a tough battle. I think they’ll make it hard for us, but we have to just stick to our own game and focus on ourselves. Hopefully we’ll just aim to get three points again,” Ruddy added.

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