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Stephanie Roche | 'We have the players in Ireland for league to go semi-pro'

Stephanie Roche joined Joe Molloy on this Monday's Off the Ball to look back at her brace of goal...

Stephanie Roche | 'We have the...

Stephanie Roche | 'We have the players in Ireland for league to go semi-pro'

Stephanie Roche joined Joe Molloy on this Monday's Off the Ball to look back at her brace of goals in Peamount United's FAI Cup final success on Saturday evening.

Peamount were 6-0 winners against Cork City at Tallaght Stadium to claim their second cup title, having been beaten in the decider in the two previous seasons.

Roche returned to Peamount this season following six years abroad, with spells in France, USA, England and Italy.

And the 31-year-old says she is determined that when she does eventually hang up her boots, she will be leaving a more popular and stronger league.

Roche says with the standards of players improving in Ireland, and games commanding more attention, she believed a semi-professional league in this country should be the aim sooner rather than later.

"For me, it's all about improving the standards here in Ireland and that's something I'm passionate about.

"I played in the inaugural Women's National League and I've come back and I don't think it's got any worse, but I don't think it's got any better either. For me, that's an issue. We can be happy with it being at a steady level for as long as we can. I think the media presence has improved but a lot of stuff hasn't improved."

"For me, being back in the league, I want to see the standards being raised," she said.

Stephanie Roche | 'We have the players in Ireland for league to go semi-pro'

Stephanie Roche says that the FAI need to accelerate their plans around the league, so they don't fall behind other nations.

"The league itself needs to be looked at. We have the players for it to go semi-pro. It's taken nine or 10 years of the league at this level and we haven't pushed on from it. Other countries around the world have. If you look at Scotland they're linked with the men's clubs so it's a little bit different in terms of - I suppose - the teams that they have, like Celtic and Rangers have put money into the women's teams."

"Being back in Ireland, I want to help this league improve as best as possible."

Roche capped off the season by scoring twice in the cup final versus Cork, signing off an at-times frustrating campaign.

However she says she has reflected on her career since returning to Ireland, and has found cause for optimism heading into 2021.

"Football is a funny old game at times, you can go from being the best player ever, people always talking about you to being forgotten about for a long time. For me this season has been stop-start.

"I cracked my rib against Cork near the start of the season and missed a couple of weeks and came back earlier than I should have but I missed a coupe of weeks, and that set me back. I missed the Champions League with Covid issues as a close contact. It was a bit of a disappointing season in terms of not being able to be part of all that with the team. Yesterday kind of finishes it off in the best way possible because I finally had that run of games going into the final, playing against Shels and Wexford which was great preparation and then I was able to have a bit more match sharpness.

"Going into the final I actually had a good chat with my Dad the day before, and he said: 'You're going to have people having opinions, but do what you're good at because you're at your best when you do that", and that's something that I tried to take into the game and thankfully it worked out.

"The last few years I've been away, I've had to adjust my game in certain ways. I've played in different positions, at Sunderland I've played left wing back.

"Anybody who had seen me play in the league before that would have never thought of me playing there because I've always been a goalscorer, I've always been a creative player who gets ion the ball and get assists and get goals and as I said I kind of went away from that, and if I'm honest I kind of stopped enjoying football because of that."

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Peamount United Stephanie Roche WNL Women's National League