Winning FAI Cup could encourage Sinnott to play on ​

By John Brennan

Familiarity won’t breed contempt this evening when Wexford Youths and Shelbourne clash in the FAI Women’s Cup final at Tallaght Stadium (5.30).

This will be the fourth time the teams have met this season and the third time they have met on domestic football’s big day in recent times.

For Wexford full-back Nicola Sinnott, it is just a case of getting on with the game against regular foes.

“At this stage, we know each other inside out,” the once-capped defender admits. “Some of the girls are playing for nine or 10 years with us, and some of the girls at Shelbourne are the same.

“Whether someone will throw in a curveball, something unexpected tactically-wise or personnel-wise, I think it’s just going to come down to desire, passion, who’s going to want it more and maybe a bit of luck as well, of course. You need that in a cup final.” 

Winning the cup would make up for Wexford’s failure to win the league this season. “It was a big disappointment for us not to be challenging for the league come the last day of the season. We set goals at the start of the season to come away with both the league and cup this term. We haven’t achieved one of those, so the cup is a big one for us now.”

Sinnott balances her sporting career with life as a teacher, and all the demands that has brought in the last year and a half with Covid.  

“I’m a secondary school teacher of Irish and geography at Coláiste Bríde in Enniscorthy. It’s an all-girls school. A lot of days, I’d be going straight from work to Carlow (where Wexford Youths train) and wouldn’t be home until 10pm.

“It is busy because on Mondays and Wednesdays you’re planning lunches and packing all your extra gear, you’re then home late and things like that. It’s a tough commitment, but, luckily enough, my hours suit sport, and if I have events that clash, my school and principal are really supportive of what I’m doing.”

So is there much awareness of what you are doing among your pupils?

“Oh, yes, there is. The students are really supportive. Many a time you’ll go in on Monday and they’ll say, ‘I see you won, Miss’. They’re following it all on social media. And the school would always put things up on Twitter and make announcements, so they’re very aware. It’s nice to have that support.”

And she gives it back, training soccer teams in the school. “We usually have four teams up through the year groups, and I’ve done that since I’ve been teaching in the school. It’s busy, but there’s great interest.

“We’ve had success over the years, which helps. We won the senior Leinster title a couple of years ago. With Covid, it’s taken a bit of a knock. I think we have to recreate the interest and get the girls back out. After lockdown ended, there were big numbers coming out.”

At 34, Sinnott is comfortable admitting that she is nearer the end of her career. “I don’t know when I’ll hang up my boots. This is my tenth year with Wexford. I do feel that, as I’m getting older, the commitment side is getting a little tougher, even my body itself is taking longer to recover from games and training sessions and things like that.

“I don’t know whether it’s just my age, but there’s a lot of time I have to say ‘no’ to family and friends. It’s tough and maybe as you get older you start to think more about those things. I feel like I’m good enough to keep playing — but this is the first year where I might have to reconsider a little bit.”

So would walking away with another big medal at about 7.30pm this evening sway you either way.

“Oh, that’s a tough one,” she says. “I don’t know if it will because I fully believe that our squad going into next season will be good enough to win silverware again next year. For me, it would be tough walking away knowing that we’re still good enough and that belief is still there. We’re a really close unit, like a family, some of my closest friends and friends for life are there. It would be tough to walk away from it all.”

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