Rosie Cunningham (c) JP Photography

CANDYSTRIPES SURVIVAL KEY FOR CUNNINGHAM

Derry City stalwart Rosie Cunningham believes the future of the club is bright as they look to establish themselves in the Danske Bank Women’s Premiership.

The 32-year-old has been a part of the first-team squad since the club’s inception 16 years ago and the Candystripes are currently in their second successive season in the top-flight following promotion in 2017.

“It all began under Declan in 2003, and I’ve been involved ever since,” Cunningham explained.

“Obviously he is manager with the men’s team now but he founded the ladies team here and it’s been a growing part of the club since.

“It’s something that it’s a real source of pride for me and Caoimhe McLaughlin has been a huge part of the club in that time period too.

“When you see how far this side of the club has come in that time period is remarkable, we now have the junior setup too and our own committee too.

“Even playing at the Brandywell Ryan McBridge stadium is a massive deal for us as players, because it shows the recognition we have and how far things have come.

“The advancement of women’s football here in general makes me wish I was a bit younger due to the progression and direction that we’re going.

“A lot of people don’t realise that we are amateurs and don’t get paid to play while we have our own full-time work commitments, but the dedication everyone shows is second to none.”

Derry have collected just one point from their opening four league games with their frustrations coming in front of goal, as they have failed to find the net so far this campaign.

“The primary aim for us this season is to remain in the league, but just like every year you want to build on your finish from the previous campaign and continue to improve,” continued Cunningham.

“We believe that we have the capability of pushing up the standings and competing with those sides in mid-table and the more experience we have, the better.

“The early games for us have been really frustrating, because some games we have lost heavily but it is not a reflection of the match itself because we have not been outplayed in that sense.

“The draw against Comber Rec was one of the most frustrating games I have ever played in because we dominated the match but just couldn’t find the net.

“We aren’t looking too much into results at the moment because our performances are improving and the aim this season is improvement and progression.

“Staying up in this level of football is vital for the club and we believe the longer we are here then the stronger we will become.”

Wednesday night’s action sees the rekindling of the rivalry between Derry and Strabane-based Sion Swifts, who have 10 points from their previous four games.

“We play Sion on Wednesday and they are traditionally one of our biggest rivals,” Cunningham added.

“Every season we play them multiple times across the league and the various cup competitions including the Foyle Cup, it’s always a great encounter.

“These are the games we look forward to these games more than any other and there’s a real competitive rivalry there between the players and clubs, which is great.

“This season they have made a flying start and are in really good form at the moment, so it’s a massive challenge for us.”

Tags:  Derry City Ladies