As Dublin won their first All-Ireland women’s football title since 2020, goalkeeper Abbey Shields was key to their success between the posts.
Abbey’s performances were recognized as she made important saves at crucial times in the season, winning her first All-Star award in November and winning her first All-Ireland title in the same year.
In a season where young players like Abbey stepped up, the Lucan goalkeeper admitted she exceeded expectations, and she reflected on 2023 on BreakingNews.ie.
“It’s been a bit of a whirlwind, but I don’t think we expected this year to go the way it did. The way this year started definitely went in a different direction than the way it ended.
“It’s been a really great year, growing, becoming a new team and of course winning. It was just a matter of getting back to the standards we set for ourselves a few years ago.
“We lost to Meath in 2021 and went out early in the quarter-finals against Donegal in 2022, so it was a question of rebuilding the team.
“We lost some guys, some regular starters, some regular players, we brought in some new people, so we regrouped and became a new team.
“There was a little bit of pressure to improve on the situation from the last two years.”
The growth of the Dublin team could also be seen in the performance of Shields, who firmly made the number 1 shirt his own.
After competing with Ciara Trent for a starting spot, the Lucan woman wasn’t content with just starting for her county as she was recognized as one of the outstanding goalkeepers in the country.
“Ciara has been unreal these last few years and she’s been there. I just tried my best to reach the standards she set. If I can exceed that, I’ll drive ‘and will continue to do so.’
“Instead of being satisfied with where I am, I put pressure on myself to reach the standard that I should be. I want to play well and improve myself and hopefully win an All-Ireland and win Leinster as well. I started this year with high hopes, and I was happy to win the All-Star tournament at the end of the year.
“A total of eight people took part and 13 people were nominated, so it was a really good night for Dublin.
“We’re all each other’s best friends. We spend most of the week with each other as much as we spend with our partners and families. It’s important to have that bond between us. At the end of the day By the way, these are the people who are important to you.” You’re going to be competing against them, so you need to know that they’re supporting you on and off the field.
For Abby, it was on the soccer pitch that she first made her mark as a goalkeeper.
The Dublin goalkeeper says this is what he learned from football.
“I’ve always been a bit of a football fan. I’m a Manchester United fan, so I looked up to players like Van der Sar and Emma Byrne, who played for Ireland.
“Speaking of football, I looked up to Ciara when she was playing, and Stephen Claxton was always in the spotlight when I was younger.
“Every aspect of my game probably comes from all four of these. Just observing what they ask of them, they can control the team and so on. Even in soccer, they When you look at his footwork, his diving, the way he catches a high ball, it’s amazing.” It all comes together.
“You can learn something from every sport. I played soccer most of my life and contributed to goals, so I ended up scoring goals in soccer. We had to make some adjustments, but we managed to do a lot of things with me.
“Playing a little higher up from your own line and things like that. Sweeper-keepers are just as important in football, whether you ask for the ball higher up if the ball goes through. It’s important.”
The last time Dublin won the All-Ireland, it was their fourth consecutive win. Some of our players have been on that team, but we also have new players like Abby, so she’s getting her first medal.
The Lucan goalkeeper believes this is a special group of players, while believing the chasing pack will be strong again.
“There’s always room for improvement. We didn’t have a 100 per cent year. We lost to Kerry and our league wasn’t the best, so we’ll definitely be hungry for me. ”
“The competition is definitely bigger, you’re seeing different teams like Armagh, but Mayo came very close to beating Kerry in the semi-final.
“If we continue to move in the right direction, we could have a few good years. It’s just a matter of sticking to our standards and improving every day on the field.”