Wexford Youths' Rianna Jarrett: 'I felt it was important not to distance myself after ACL injuries'

Wed, Mar 28 2018

Rianna Jarrett in action during the 2015 FAI Cup final at the Aviva. Credit: Eoin Smith (ETPhotos)

Rianna Jarrett is looking forward to tasting Champions League action for the first time this year after three serious knee injuries in three years put her promising career in jeopardy.

The striker has won the Women's National League three times with Wexford Youths but missed out on European action the first two times after sustaining consecutive cruciate ligament injuries.

23-year-old Jarrett ruptured her ACL for the third time on international duty in 2016 and spent the guts of 16 months on the sideline before returning to action last summer.

The Wexford native got on the scoresheet as Youths sealed their third National League title in a winner-takes-all final-day encounter with Peamount United at Ferrycarrig Park in October.

After their opening two league fixtures were postponed due to the foul weather than engulfed Ireland earlier in the month, Jarrett scored twice as Youths skewered Limerick 5-0 at the weekend.

And with this year's league set to be the most competitive ever with Wexford, Peamount, Shelbourne, UCD Waves and Cork City all aspiring to silverware, she's taking it one step at a time.

“I've been unfortunate in the last four or five years,” Jarrett told the Extratime.ie Sportscast.

“I've done my ACL three times. I've had good support around me – my family and teammates and friends. I've always been around the team even when I'm out injured.

“I felt it was important for me not to distance myself. Being around them, always at training, always at matches, it's kept me eager to get back into the team.

“We're a close-knit team, so even the days I was feeling down, doing my recovery I'd always have the down days, the girls were always there for me, supporting me.

“Even the management that have come and gone, they've always done everything they can for me on and off the field, so I can't thank them enough.”

The success of last season took a sour turn during the winter as manager Laura Heffernan stepped down from her position days after lifting the league title.

In her place has come Tom Elmes, who has bought into the club's style of attacking, attractive football while maintaining the bulk of their title-winning squad.

“On a personal note, it's great to be able to start the season with the team,” said Jarrett.

“The past couple of years I've always been coming back from injury, so I've always been joining the team in the middle of the season or at the end of the season.”

With added competition in the league, Jarrett insists she and her teammates are only looking towards the next game and challenging again for the league title.

But she admits the lure of a first Champions League campaign – and the opportunity to improve on Shelbourne's near-miss last summer – is one she can't put completely out of mind.

“I've been unfortunate in that I've never played in the Champions League with Wexford Youths,” she says.

“The couple of times we have won the league I've been injured coming off the back of it, so I haven't actually featured in one.

“So, for me personally, it's one I'm definitely looking forward to. But you can't get caught up in that.

“We've a lot of games to play in the league before we reach that stage. That's not until the summer. We're taking it game by game, step by step.

“Obviously that's in the back of our minds and you're planning in the bigger picture towards that, but you can't caught up planning too far ahead because you'll fall too far behind in the league and that's not what anybody wants.”

On the Extratime.ie Sportscast this week, Dec and Dave speak to Wexford Youths' Rianna Jarrett and Dundalk midfielder Robbie Benson.

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