Sion Swifts Ladies Under-19’s were crowned 2021 Electric Ireland Women’s Academy League champions after a dramatic final day victory for the first silverware of the women’s season.
The Electric Ireland Women’s Academy League was introduced in 2019 to provide a pathway for Northern Ireland’s most talented young players into Premiership football and has played a key part of the success of the Game Changers NI movement.
The Tyrone club went into the final game of the season needing just a point against second placed Cliftonville Corinthians for their first league title under the NI Football League umbrella.
Erin Montgomery and the Reds failed to concede the title and it was her stunning long range goal in the first half which nudged Cliftonville in front in the title race, but Sion rallied in the second period with comeback goals from Ellie Long and Caoirse Doherty to seal the points required for silverware.
Sion captain Aoibhe O'Neill spoke of the importance of the league for her and her team-mates, “The Academy League is really good for developing us younger players into the senior teams and I think it’s really grew us as a team this year, and really made us progress as players.
The Swifts eventually won the title by four points over second placed Cliftonville Corinthians, with Linfield Ladies Swifts in third.
Sion Swifts Ladies U19 coach Shearnan McCay said, “It’s a really good structured league, the girls wouldn’t get it anywhere else playing against the best players we have here week in and week out. The girls have been great, we’ve got a young squad and there is great potential for the future and get them prepared for Premiership football in the next season or two.”
Caoirse Doherty finished at the league’s top goalscorer with 19 goals in a breakthrough season which has seen the teenage striker break through into the first team during the 2021 Danske Bank Women’s Premiership season.