Cork City captain Ciara McNamara has admitted the club are determined to return to the Aviva Stadium at the end of this season.

The Leesiders begin the defence of their Women’s FAI Senior Cup this Sunday afternoon as they travel to Mayo Club Manulla in the first round of the competition.

This will be the first time the club has featured in this tournament since they defeated U.C.D Waves 1-0 in the final at the beginning of November.

Coincidently, this week began with a league match against the side they beat in last season’s finale and will end with their return to the Cup.

It has brought back some great memories for McNamara and her teammates which they are hoping can inspire them to further glory.

“We were saying we would love to get there again this year,” said the 22-year-old skipper.

“When you experience it once, you want to experience again next year and the next year and the next year. We are aiming to go as far as we can and hopefully we can get back to the Aviva this year.

“If you look at our history we probably are (a cup team). The cup is fine but the league is probably a good gauge to see where you are. The cups are great but ideally, we want to be getting higher up in the league but if we got to the cup final again this year, I would take that any day.”

Clare Shine’s goal midway through the first half proved to be the difference between the sides on that day but with just the one goal lead going into the last few minutes, McNamara vividly recalls the nerve wrecking finish to that game.

“Towards the last few minutes we were beginning to get a bit nervous as you would its only human nature,” she adds.

“I remember John Kennedy brought in the family enclosure and you hear the City chant and they were behind us so it gave us that little bit to make us think we’re almost there and to keep going.

“I fell awkwardly late on and I was in absolute agony but to have that behind you I just went right, come on, I’ve a few minutes I’ll get through it whatever happens after the final whistle I’ll deal with it but I’ll get myself over the line. And thankfully we did.”

Just a few seasons on from when the club was delighted to avoid defeat in league games, they had now claimed the first major trophy in its history which brought about a wide range of emotions for those involved.

“I remember we got two draws in my first season and it was like life-changing,” she jokes.

“We drew against Peamount and Galway at the time and it was like ‘oh my god’. We went up to play Shelbourne but they were Raheny at the time and we went 1-0 up and we were like ‘oh my god we’ve gone 1-0 up’.

“I won’t say what the score was like afterwards but they came back we’ll put it that way. But for us to get two draws that year was unreal and the year after that when Niall (O’Regan) took over we got one or two more results, Kilkenny came into the league so we beat them and drew with them so we were getting closer and closer.

“To look at when I came first and celebrating those two draws, to go on last year and win the cup final puts into perspective how far we have come as a club.

“To go on and win it the way we did was just unreal. The girls were laughing they were crying we didn’t know what to do with ourselves really at full time it was sheer emotion.

“There were girls who were there from the start really and to see where they came from then and to be in the cup final was unreal.

“We just had to believe in ourselves that was the big thing last year, we didn’t believe in ourselves enough until we started getting results which showed we can mix with the best of them.

“I was only looking at pictures the other day I remember then at full time we were in a huddle and next thing I see Amanda (Budden) jumping over about three or four of us and nearly flattened us but it was brilliant.

“At full time I ran to Maggie (Duncliffe) and Nathalie (O’Brien) because they were the closest and we were like ‘we’re after winning!” it was pure emotion. I was like we’ve just won it didn’t sink in.

“It was only maybe a week after it when you kind of calm down and you’re sitting at home. I was actually looking at the cup in my kitchen going like I brought that home, it was a bit surreal really.

“It was good to put ourselves out there and let people know that there is a Cork City Women’s team because people wouldn’t have known, they just wouldn’t, and there wouldn’t have been the publicity there for it.

“It was good to put ourselves out there and let them know we're just as good and we can win things too if we put our minds to it.

“I was pinching myself but it was unbelievable. It was like dreams came through that day for a lot of us, it was fantastic.

“It was unbelievable. I know I keep saying it was unbelievable but it really was it was the stuff you dream of doing it just goes to show that if you execute your game plan and if you really want something you’ll get it.”

Once the reflecting on that ‘unbelievable’ triumph had concluded a steely McNamara again reiterated her desire to create similar memories.

A return to the National Stadium on Cup final day is the objective for the remainder of the campaign but the squad won’t be taking anything for granted and won’t be complacent when they take on Intermediate Cup Champions Manulla this weekend.

“We know what we need to do and we know how to get there now which is the main things because we’ve been there before,” enthused McNamara.

“The real test now is to get back there again. The great teams win things year after year and get to finals. You don’t want to just get there once you want to get there as many times as you can.

“We got there last year and we’re really hungry to get there again this year, even more so because it’s so fresh in our minds. We know what we need to do and we need to win.

“I want to go back there, make no bones about it and the girls are the same. When you experience something like that you can’t just think it would be great to get to a semi-final.

“We have to go for it, we have to want it because whoever wants it more on the day will get it. If we don’t show up against Manulla they’ll win.

“You can’t think it’s a grand draw. If I was them I would be thinking we’re at home and we’re going to make it as awkward as possible. We have to take it as a normal game and not be complacent.

“It (winning the cup) was one of the best, if not the best thing I have ever done. Hopefully starting with Manulla we can do it again but we have to take it step by step.

“We can’t plan for the fourth of November already because that will be the rock we perish on.

“We have to keep the heads down, keep working hard in training and hopefully the results will come which I know they will if we keep going.”