‘I didn’t expect to be getting three titles this year’: Four-time All-Ireland champion the match-winner for Wexford

WATCHING KATRINA PARROCK slot the ball into the back of the net for Wexford Youths in the Women’s FAI Cup final on Sunday, you would think she has been playing at this level all her life.

The 28-year-old walked away from camogie in 2017 having enjoyed a stellar career in GAA, being an integral member of a golden generation of players in her county at the time; one who collected four All-Ireland titles in the space of six years.

She picked up three All-Stars in that time, but walked away from the game having spoken about her loss of love for the sport and how it had become more of an effort than a genuine devotion in later years.

The story goes that when Parrock’s retirement from camogie was revealed in the local newspaper, she received two offers right away: to play for the county’s gaelic footballers, or to line out for Wexford Youths and dabble her hand at soccer at a national level.

Wexford Youths won the Women’s National League, Women’s FAI Cup and Developmental Shield this season.

Source: Ryan Byrne/INPHO

Parrock accepted Wexford manager Laura Heffernan’s offer last year, with yesterday’s winning goal in the FAI Cup final marking a tremendous crescendo for someone who had joined the reigning Women’s National League champions less than two years before.

Wexford secured their fourth WNL title in five seasons in 2018, also picking up the Development Shield last month. Yesterday’s 1-0 triumph over Peamount United at Landsdowne Road brought the club’s titles to three in new manager Tom Elmes’ first year in charge.

It’s unbelievable,” Parrock said speaking yesterday after full-time. “I didn’t expect to be getting three titles this year with Wexford Youths. The girls have put in so much work from the end of January to now. We’ll enjoy the break and celebrate well tonight.”

At this stage she is well accustomed to being asked about the differences and similarities between her time lining out as one of the most talented centre forward’s in camogie, and now a goal-scoring midfielder in a completely different sport.

“It’s hard to compare,” she explains. “It’s a totally different game, different skill, different fitness, different pitch. So look, you’re winning at the end of the day, so it’s amazing either way.”

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Katrina Parrock puts the Youths ahead #rtesoccer #WFAICupFinal pic.twitter.com/qImGm7opnN

— Soccer Republic (@SoccRepublic) November 4, 2018

Sunday’s goal saw Parrock finish off a fine move from Wexford. Some exceptional turning and twisting from team-mate Emma Hansberry down the right flank sold her marker sweetly to begin with.

Her cross into the box was then headed on further by Ireland international Rianna Jarrett, with Parrock taking one touch and then another inside the box, before clipping a superb finish past Peamount goalkeeper Naoisha McAloon for 1-0 after 37 minutes.

Emma is the right player you want to be whipping them in, Rianna flicked it on as she does so well all of the time. Look, I didn’t even think about it,” says Parrock.

“I was just so determined to get it into the back of the net because we had so many chances and we have to take chances on big days like today, when you’re playing in such a big stadium and with such a big title up for grabs. It went into the back of the net and thank God for that.”

The 28-year-old won four All-Ireland titles and three All-Stars with Wexford.

Source: James Crombie/INPHO

Her finish was the midfielder’s 12th goal of the season in 2018, with the former Kilmore United player admitting that she does have a keen eye for goal, just like she did a number of years ago lining out up front in Croke Park.

“I don’t know what it is,” she laughs. “Maybe it’s just a hunger for goals. But look, I probably wouldn’t be the greatest at tracking back or defending.

I like to get on the end of attacks and get them into the back of the net. As long as we’re winning, we’re all happy. Obviously I was delighted. We were after going 1-0 up in a cup final in the Aviva Stadium.”

She speaks fondly about the busloads of Wexford fans who made the long journey up to support her team on Sunday afternoon at the Aviva, adding that magnificent days like yesterday’s brought a spark back to her love for sport.

“Through my years of camogie, playing 11 years with Wexford, we achieved a lot and I was lucky, to be honest, to be on such a successful camogie team.

Wexford Youths' Katrina Parrock is the player of the match and the matchwinner #RTEsoccer pic.twitter.com/XQqAiqrRkS

— Soccer Republic (@SoccRepublic) November 4, 2018

“Maybe I just lost the appetite, I probably ticked the boxes I wanted to tick in that sport. I suppose looking at soccer now I have more boxes to be ticked and I’m achieving them now, thank God.”

An international cap under Colin Bell with the Irish Women’s National Team could be another potential box to be ticked on her list, she admits.

Well, I have an U19 international cap from 2007, so I wouldn’t mind adding more to that,” Parrock says.

“Maybe I’ve gone too old for that stage now, but sure look, we’ll keep achieving. You’d never say no to an Ireland jersey being handed to you. At the end of the day it’s your country and it would be an amazing achievement for me.”

It has been a truly phenomenal season for Wexford Youths in 2018. The Ferrycarrig Park club have secured the league title, FAI Cup and Shield — losing one league game all season, while also getting to the League Cup final.

Parrock has won back-to-back Women’s National League titles since arriving at Wexford Youths in 2017.

Source: Oisin Keniry; ©INPHO/Oisin Keniry/INPHO

The side also competed in Champions League qualifiers back in August, initially taking a 1-0 lead against Dutch giants Ajax before succumbing to a 4-1 defeat during the summer. Achieving even more success, defending all of their titles and making even greater strides in European competition is the focus for next year, Parrock says.

We can’t wait for next year, but many of us aren’t thinking about that at this stage because we’ve had such a long season since the end of January, playing Champions League this year as well as being involved in so many of the cups and the league.

“We’ll look to that now after a few weeks. Playing in the Champions League is brilliant. We had a good year this year playing Thor of Iceland, and Ajax and Linfield. It was a great experience for everyone.

“But look, we’re always looking to achieve and to go one step further, so we’ll work on that for next year.” 

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