WEXFORD Youths Women’s AFC striker Claire O’Riordan has been named Continental Tyres Women’s National League Player of the Month for January/February.

The Limerick native, 20, has been in blistering form this season with 14 goals to her name and she scored eight goals in three games in Wexford’s brilliant run of results since the turn of the year.

O’Riordan admits she has benefited greatly from studying at the FAI’s BA Sport and Exercise (Soccer) at IT Carlow and has adjusted to life at the highest level of the game with the Model County side.

“I didn’t really know much about the league until I started the course in IT Carlow and one of my class-mates was Rianna Jarrett, who was playing for Wexford Youths and invited me down,” said O’Riordan.

“I’ve enjoyed every minute of it. The first year was really all about learning about the level and adjusting but I felt this year I was ready to push on and it’s gone very well.

“What I really like about it is the professionalism of the whole set-up and level of commitment we have to give to it. We train twice a week and the standard is very high. I would say that the past 18 months have been the most enjoyable of my life.

“The course in IT Carlow has been fantastic for me. I’ve learned a lot about the game and because we train with boys mostly you learn how to get stronger and do things a little bit quicker, which can only help you develop as a player.”

O’Riordan has played a major role in firing Youths to the top of the Continental Tyres Women’s National League and they gave their ambitions of lifting the title a major boost with their 3-0 victory over champions Raheny United last month.

“People may say that it’s all down to us now and that we are the favourites but we’re not interested in that. All we are doing is focusing on each challenge as it comes up and thankfully it has worked for us,” she said.

From Newcastlewest in Co Limerick, O’Riordan started off playing on a mixed team before a women’s team was created in her home town and she balanced her football with playing camogie with Newcastlewest and gaelic football with Monagea.

After helping her gaelic football team to four titles at different levels in consecutive seasons it was no surprise when O’Riordan progressed to the Limerick county football team. She had also played at minor level for Limerick.

“I tried to balance everything last season but it got too much. This year I’ve been very focused on Wexford Youths and I feel like I’m benefitting from that,” she said.

“Like any player in the league I hope I can keep progressing and my long-term ambition is to one day win an international cap but that’s the long-term, I have my short-term goals to focus on for now.”

Wexford Youths are next in action on Sunday, March 22, when they travel to face Galway WFC.

NOTE: Pictures to accompany this piece are available on sportsfile.com 

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