Wexford Youths captain Kylie Murphy: 'If you don't have belief you'll never do anything'

Fri, Nov 23 2018

Murphy in action for Youths against UCD Waves. Credit: Peter Fitzpatrick (ETPhotos)

Women’s National League champions and winners of the FAI Cup and WNL Shield - iut's been a standout year for the Wexford Youths team as their latest league triumph ensured back-to-back titles and a new record, lifting the trophy for a fourth time.

Team captain Kylie Murphy has been a huge contributor to the success of the club both on and off the field over the last few years and this week reflected on a hugely impressive year.

“It probably couldn’t have worked out any better for us in terms of the way the season finished,” Murphy told extratime.ie.

“The league was what we were after first and foremost because it gives you another chance at the Champions League next year again.

“Having not qualified beyond the group stages this year we wanted another crack at it. That will be one of the early goals we set out for next year, to have that to look forward to again and to give it a real good crack as a team next year.

“To go and finish off the season by lifting the FAI Cup, oh my god it was incredible, the icing on the cake I suppose you could say.

“Going into it we were very calm, we knew we had already tied up the league title so there was a sense of calmness and confidence ahead of the final and thankfully we came out on the right end of it to cap off a phenomenal year.”

A Katrina Parrock goal was the difference in a hard fought cup final with Peamount at the Aviva, the WNL Shield won through a penalty shootout after a hard fought 0-0 draw with Cork City and just a gap of two points separating them and Shelbourne when the last ball was kicked in this year’s league campaign.

Those games could have gone either way but, crucially, went the way of Wexford this season when they needed it most and Murphy puts this crucial edge down to an unbreakable belief that has been instilled within the squad as a result of experiencing so many highs and lows together over the last few years.

“I think belief is in you and within this squad belief is something we have had very strongly since day one.

“There were plenty of days in the beginning when we were getting beat and getting hammered off the pitch 6 and 7-0 but from year one to now no matter how hard it may have been at the time there has always been belief within this group, if you don’t have belief you’ll never do anything.”

“As a group we always have a belief that we can do better and that when things aren’t going so well for us that if we stick to what we know we are good at and persist in working hard and fighting back we know within ourselves that there is nothing we can’t achieve.

“This year we won a treble and already looking within the squad I honestly believe that next year we will be more than capable of winning everything domestically and coming out of our Champions League group but again as I have already said, it will take an awful lot of hard work and commitment just like this year and any other year we have been successful to achieve the goals we set ourselves.  “Working with Tom and the lads has been huge, we as players couldn’t have asked for much more this season. We have been playing much better soccer which has been really exciting and naturally more enjoyable and that is exactly what Tom and the guys brought in which is great. The aim for next year will be to try and play as well as we played in a lot of games this year but over a full ninety minutes and on a much more consistent basis.”

A captain who leads by example and lets her actions speak louder than words in terms of constantly striving to raise the standards within the team to ensure continued success. A captain who also wears the armband with a huge amount of pride and respect.

“Oh god, absolutely!, There’s times when I can’t actually put into words what it means to walk out in front of this group of girls and to captain this group says Murphy as she speaks about what it means to be the one who leads talented group so well.

“They are my friends and you are with them week in and week out experiencing so many highs and so many lows together and the reality is we have been successful this year and last but we have also lost a lot in the early years and when we did the most important thing was that we lost together and helped each other to learn from those losses and come back stronger.

“It’s a huge honour to captain this special team and I couldn’t be prouder to be leading them out every week onto the field. I cannot speak highly enough of each and every one of them and also they make my job easy as a result of the commitment, hunger and professionalism they show week in, week out.”

A squad filled with individual talent on the field but you also get a sense of the real family and team  like bond that exists within this team off the field as well. In any team this is just as important as what is produced on the pitch. When Kylie talks about her team-mates there is a real glow of admiration towards every individual member of the team and she is quick to emphasise the important role that each member plays.

“Katrina’s goal in the final was some sight! To be fair to her, she is doing that week in week out in the national league, it’s just that not everybody gets to see it!, The skill it took was just phenomenal, to be able to flick a ball over someone’s head like that. As we saw once again, she is just that player that you can always count on, I don’t know how she does it but she shows up in the right places time and time again. She knew she had to work a bit harder because she was completely changing her sport from camogie to soccer and I have to say credit to her she has done an admirable job of that and she isn’t finished yet I can tell you now”

“For Rianna to pick up the Senior Player of the Year award is just incredible. She’s Rianna Jarrett, she’s the kid who made a comeback after three bad cruciate injuries and that in itself says a whole lot about that girl.

“She’s out on her own like, to do what she has done and come back and win that type of trophy and also to be the first Wexford player to win that trophy is a credit to herself, her family and her team mates.

“There’s players who don’t survive one cruciate, Rianna has just picked up the Player of the Year award not too long after recovering from her third so we couldn’t be happier as it hasn’t been easy for her.

“It didn’t just happen though, she has put in the work to get her where she is today and what she does behind closed doors is so admirable and a workload that you wouldn’t believe.

In recent weeks, Kylie and two of her Wexford club mates, Rianna Jarrett and Lauren Dwyer, were recognised for their contributions over the course of the season as they were announced as three of the eleven players that will make up this year’s WNL Team of the Season.

Although it has long been a struggle to attract new fans and constructing a sustainable model that would ensure a consistent and healthy level of support throughout the league both in terms, the last few years has seen a slow and gradual increase in popularity and Murphy reckons in terms of team recognition it has been one of the best years yet.

“I don’t think a lot of people realised in recent years how successful this team actually have been but I feel like after the FAI Cup Final success this year I have never before noticed as many people talk about it and refer to it so positively, which is nice.

“I think RTE had mentioned that there were 77,000 people viewing the game which as a number for the Women’s National League is just fantastic. So I think this year between supporters and the media, etc, there has been more coverage and more hype.

“I done a few interviews after the final and reporters were mentioning that it was a great game in terms of the soccer standard, which it was.

“But the reality is that the quality that was observed in that game is happening week-in, week-out within the league but it’s just that not enough people know about it.

“Hopefully that is starting to change, and we as a team and everyone within the league will continue to do our very best to ensure this will change.”

Having enjoyed and tasted so much success in recent years, it would be easy to see how a team may take their foot off the gas a bit when that elusive first medal is presented to them and then dangles from their neck, or when the mantelpiece finally fills its last empty space with another nice trophy or piece of silverware.

The initial hunger that may be eased by the feeling of winning may never be as great as before but, if Kylie Murphy has anything to do with it each of her young teammates could do worse than invest in a second mantelpiece at home.

“I know we have won back to back league titles now but I’m not the slightest bit worried about the levels of motivation or hunger within the team even though we have won so much.

“As a group, we have learnt the hard way that we cannot relax too much and, in order to ensure continued success and to continue to reach new heights, we are always going to keep raising the bar with regards to our standards and efforts. 

“Although we had such a great year, I know, and the girls know, there was a lot of games and moments in a game that we could have done a lot better and that’s where the hard work starts towards next year.

“We are not ready to stop yet and there are plenty of young girls starting their journey within this team in recent years, and it is so important that we mould them into the team and into what it is that we believe.

“To win a treble takes serious work. You don’t just turn up and doddle around between training or in matches. It takes missing important events with your family and friends.

“It takes commitment like no other. It takes all of that and more, and it is hard when you don’t get paid for it or don’t get the amount of appreciation for it.

“But, my god, the feeling you get when you lift league titles and cups is a feeling I’ll never replace.

“Looking around as the trophy gets passed around and seeing the sweat, seeing the tears and the smiles, and knowing what has went into getting to that point for each individual is worth every minute of it.

“People giving up their lives and every team in the national league is doing it and working as hard as we do but we are lucky enough to be the ones in the last few years that the success has come to.

“Next season, speaking as a captain, I am most looking forward to getting stuck into preseason again as soon as it rolls around, it has only been three weeks since we broke for our break and I miss them terribly already!

“They are great to be around and once it is finished it is amazing that in the space of a week you do very quickly start to miss the weekly meet ups and the banter we have.”

With the treble only in the trophy cabinet a matter of weeks, Murphy already seems satisfied to lock the cabinet and start again as they look to add the WNL Cup to the list of honours in 2019.

A Champions League group stage breakthrough would also be welcomed, and one which seems to be getting closer and closer.