The Extratime.ie Sportscast Episode 104 - Rachel Graham - Ciara McNamara

Fri, Mar 09 2018

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It's a Women's National League special on the Extratime.ie Sportscast this year as we preview the opening weekend of the season.

Presenter Dec Marron and senior reporter Dave Donnelly are joined by Shelbourne midfielder Rachel Graham and Cork City captain Ciara McNamara to discuss their sides' preparation.

Former Ireland international Graham discusses the winter of discontent at Morton Stadium as the Reds pondered a season that saw them relinquish their league crown to Wexford Youths.

The off-season has seen change in the coaching staff as Mark Leavy and Shaun Maher departed due to other commitments, to be replaced by Danny Crowley and the returning Gordon Ewing.

On the recruitment end, the Reds have tempted striker Noelle Murray back from Glasgow City – and installed her as captain – while defender Jess Gleeson arrives from Wexford.

And with an away trip to the champions up on the opening day, Graham talks about the need to be more compact this season and avoid the hint of 'cockiness' that may have crept in last year.

Also looking ahead to her side's opening fixture is defender Ciara McNamara, whose City side are still riding a wave of optimism following their maiden FAI Cup title in November.

Improvements on and off the pitch have seen City merge with the men's club – also FAI Cup winners at the Aviva – and confidence is sky-high heading into Sunday's opener in Galway.

Shortly after the show was broadcast, City announced a raft of new additions, the most eye-catching of which is Ireland international Savannah McCarthy, also from Glasgow City.

With fellow international Clare Shine and underage star Saoirse Noonan also back for another year, City are confident they can begin to challenge at the higher end of the table in 2018.

Dec and Dave also preview the four opening-round fixtures and make an early prediction for title-winners, while they also look ahead to the weekend's League of Ireland games.

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