Ladies soccer was in the shop window with the FAI Cup final taking place at the Aviva Stadium on Sunday and Ciara Grant’s goal lit up the day.
The Letterkenny native helped Raheny United lift the Women’s FAI Cup with an 3-2 extra-time victory over Castlebar Celtic lat the Dublin 4 venue.
It retained the trophy following last season’s victory over Peamount United at Dalymount Park.
“We had actually beaten Castlebar 9-2 in the league a couple of weeks before but Sunday was different,” the UCD third year Medicine student says.
“It was a cup final at the Aviva and anything could happen. I’d never played at the Aviva before. We all met up at the clubhouse in Raheny and I met my family there.”
Ciara is a daughter of Sean Grant and Teresa Sullivan from Orchard Grove in Ballyraine.
She has three brothers - Garbhan, who is completing a soccer scholarship at Holy Cross, South Bend in Indiana, having played with Letterkenny Rovers, as well as Thomas and Kevin, who play soccer locally and also represent St Eunan’s.
Ciara has seven senior Ireland caps and has represented the U-17 side in the World Cup in Trinidad and Tobago in 2010, the same year the girls in green reached the final of the European U-17 Championships in Switzerland before losing to Spain on penalties.
However, last Sunday was all about the club. With the final taking place at the Aviva for the first time, RTE were also showing the match live.
The former Lagan Harps and Kilmacrennan Celtic midfielder opened the scoring in spectacular fashion, controlling the ball on her right foot before lobbing Caoimhe O’Reilly with her left from just outside the area on 37 minutes.
“I’m usually a defensive midfielder and myself and Caroline Thorpe, who plays alongside me, usually cover for one another,” Ciara adds.
“I just saw the opportunity to get forward and when I got the ball I saw the goalkeeper off her line and went for it. I initially thought I had overhit it but it dipped down just in time.”
Raheny twice took the lead in normal time through Grant and then Thorpe but Emma Mullin and Deirdre Doherty helped Castlebar take the match to extra time.
“When we went 2-1 up there were only eight minutes left and I felt it was perfect for us,” Ciara adds.
“And then Castlebar scored in the 89th minute so from then on it was anyone’s game.”
However, an own goal by Kim Flood saw Raheny add the FAI Cup to their Women’s National League trophy.
“After the full-time whistle, it was up to us to push from the start of extra-time and although it was an own goal, we had two girls following in behind just in case,” Ciara says.
“It was a brilliant day all round for ladies soccer. It was a great game, a really competitive game and everyone was very complimentary to us afterwards.
“It was brilliant for me to get the chance to play in the World Cup but Sunday was certainly a highlight too as it was closer to home and all my friends and family were there as well.
“Sunday was a good day for ladies football and really put it out there for people to see that. Some people were shocked at the level of fitness we showed and our general play.
“From our point of view, we didn’t play at our best on Sunday but still got complimented so hopefully we will get the chance to show that to more people.
“The standard of football is very good and from my point of view, all I can do is keep trying to play well for the club and see what happens with Ireland.”