Glentoran Women are the early frontrunners in the Danske Bank Women’s Premiership with new goalkeeper Jacqueline Burns playing a key role in their opening two victories.
The 23-year-old - one of the club’s summer signings - has kept a clean sheet in each match to date for the Glens and she has explained the move was a “perfect fit” for her.
The Northern Ireland international spent four years in the United States, where she starred for the Carson–Newman University's women's soccer team before graduating in December.
“The move to the Glens was a perfect fit for me,” Burns explained.
“The club made an approach for me and I was already familiar with quite a few of the players having played in the international setup.
“They were very persuasive in explaining what was happening at the club and it seemed like an easy choice for me once they told me of their interest.
“This move helps with the international setup too, as its easier to join up for all the training and matches.”
Burns spent her teenage years at Mid Ulster, and helped the club win the Mid Ulster Cup in 2015.
“That was a great experience for me, and winning silverware with the club made it a special time,” she added.
“We always punched above our weight as we didn’t have the resources of the biggest clubs but we competed at the highest level.”
Now, the Danske Bank Women’s Premiership is filled with promising teenage players and, despite being aged just 23, Burns is now one of the most established players in the division.
“I’m still only 23 but probably one of the more experienced players here,” the goalkeeper continued.
“Glentoran are like any other side in this league with a lot of really talented teenage players who are coming through.
“That bodes well for the future of football here and there has been a big step-up in the past few years.”
It’s a case of so far, so good for the Glens this season - they have beaten Cliftonville and title holders Linfield to nil, and have established a three-point lead in the formative league table.
“It’s been a perfect start for us and we are looking to build on it,” said Burns.
“You can never be totally sure what you’re going to get when you come into a new club the girls are great and we have already built a really strong relationship together.
“The wins are fantastic and it’s been really pleasing to be picking up the clean sheets too, but that is a collective team effort.
“We have been strong across the pitch and we have been able to play our own game.”
With just eight rounds of games remaining, every point will be crucial this season but nobody will be getting carried away at The Oval.
“Especially with the shorter season, its especially important to make a strong start,” Burns added.
“We’ve another huge test coming up at Sion this week, but every opponent is different and are going to be a tough challenge.
“The type of league we have this year means things can change from week to week, so nobody is going to get complacent about what can happen.
“We want to improve each game and to really challenge for the league this year - there’s a really good vibe in the dressing room and we want to continue these results.”