11 signings who could shake up the SSE Airtricity Women's Premier Division

20th February 2024

New faces who could change the SSE Airtricity Women's Premier Division

As the 2024 League of Ireland season draws closer, it’s time to get excited about what the SSE Airtricity Women’s Premier Division can bring.

In the spotlight for every team will be signings – some new, some old – who could make a significant difference and dictate whether they are successful or not this year.



This was a surprise one when the Northern Ireland international swapped Sligo for the Midlands having established herself as a key player for The Bit O’Red. But football is all about change.

Howe is exactly the type of player that Ciaran Kilduff needed to add to his Athlone Town roster. She is dynamic, unpredictable and creative. Add those skills to a line-up that already includes Madison Gibson, Dana Scheriff and Chloe Singleton…well, let’s just suggest that they should top their goals scored total from 2023.

One of the best things about Howe is that she is direct. Once the balls lands at her feet, she shifts her body and pumps her legs so quickly to get ahead that opposition defenders are often left stuck in the mud. This drives her team forward at pace and openings up goalscoring opportunities.

Athlone worked well last season with their midfielders narrowing the pitch on counter attacks and this is something that Howe can help with. She is a game-winner and that boosts her new team’s chances of mounting a title challenge.

BOHEMIANS - Alannah McEvoy

Having landed at Dalymount Park, Alannah McEvoy will be keen to get off to a fast start at her fourth Dublin club. 

The Wicklow native was marked as one to watch at underage level due to her electric pace, dizzying dribbling and eye for goal. She has showed glimpses of combining those talents with each of her pitstops (particularly with Shamrock Rovers) but consistency is one thing that has been missing. 

If she is used in a more central position at Bohemians, then expect her to become their leading goalscorer. However, she can be just as effective when cutting inside from wide positions so he does carry a threat coming from different angles.

The Bohs attack looks to be refreshed with Rachel McGrath, Abbie O’Hara and Katie Malone being supported by new recruits Sarah McKevitt and Orlagh Fitzpatrick. But McEvoy should be the one to watch.

CORK CITY - Orlaith O’Mahony

One of the best compliments that can be attributed to Orlaith O’Mahony is that she knows how to make a game dirty. Not dirty in the sense of breaking the rules but in making life uncomfortable for the opposition.

Cork City were left swinging at thin air in some midfield scraps last season – not due to a lack of effort but perhaps an absence of guile at times. O’Mahony should be able to address that and land some knock-out blows (again, within the rules of the game).

It was a surprise that she departed Shamrock Rovers having broken through to the first team from their Academy, but a fresh start could be the making of her in this League. And her arrival could help to lift a Cork side away from the bottom of the table.

The Leesiders have some exciting young players who could benefit from O’Mahony’s fine-tuned sense of positioning as she can cover space to allow others to speed forward in counter attacks, while her range of passing can link play around the pitch.

If she can strike up an understanding with Eva Mangan then expect Cork to be a very difficult team to break down and to stop when in full flow. She ticks the most important box that they needed to fill this season.



DLR WAVES - Nadine Seward

When Nadine Seward first broke through at Cork City, she set pulses racing. With her deadly combination of speed and skill, it was easy to see why people got excited about her potential.

The Waterford native has that daring nature where taking the ball forward with her dribbling and focusing solely on reaching the opposition’s penalty area marks her out as someone who is constantly a threat.

Last season didn’t exactly go according to plan with just four appearance made – only one of which was a start. A move to Dublin with DLR Waves could be exactly what she needs to get back up to speed.

DLR certainly need a wide player like Seward. Having lost Sarah McKevitt, there is a vacancy on the left (or cutting in from the right) that the flame-haired attacker can fill. She could turn out to be their x-factor this season.

The Waves scored just 13 League goals in 2023, so having a creative force like Seward should help them to improve on that.

GALWAY UNITED - Julie-Ann Russell

Okay, the 60-times capped Ireland WNT international is not exactly a new signing at Eamonn Deacy Park but her re-signing is noteworthy. In fact, it could be their most important signing.

Julie-Ann Russell is one of the best players to grace this League. She has shown that for Peamount United, UCD Waves and Galway. The question now is whether the experienced midfielder can do it again having returned from a lengthy spell out.

Having made a comeback at the tail-end of the 2023 season, the signs are hugely encouraging that she can play a big part in what could be a big year for Galway. They won the All-Island Cup last year; can they now challenge for the League title?

Certainly Russell will be wanting to be in the mix for another winners’ medal. She is someone who sets high standards and expects others to follow suit. It is why her influence, on and off the pitch, can be a game-changer for a relatively young team.

Two seasons ago, Russell was superb when operating in a more central area where her tight control and eye for a defence-splitting pass allowed The Tribeswomen to dominate in the final third. Get her on the ball and watch her weave some magic.




How do you improve a title-winning squad? You add more depth of course. Or in the case of Erica Burke, you add a different type of player to the ones you already have.

The Kildare native is one of those forwards who make opposition defenders grumble before a ball is even kicked because they know she will frustrate them for 90+ minutes with her aggression, agility and all-round energy.

Burke is a forward who can either hold play up to link in with midfield runners or stretch a defence by pulling them out of position. She is a battering ram that will knock through any defensive wall. Oh and she can score goals too!

During her time at Bohemians, Burke rose from the status of being a relative unknown to wearing the captain’s armband. She leads by example and should fit in well with the Peamount United squad as a character as much as a player.

Bringing Burke in is a shrewd move by James O’Callaghan – especially with UEFA Champions League qualifiers to come in the summer – as The Peas will need to mix their game up sometimes and she is ideal to helping them do just that.


It is quite likely that Anna Butler will begin the 2024 season playing for Rovers’s Under 17s or Under 19s (perhaps both). However, don’t expect her to stand still at that level because a bright future awaits her.

Having made the move from DLR Waves (along with team-mate Ella Kelly), Butler is someone who The Hoops believe can follow in the footsteps of current forward Joy Ralph – a player expected to have a big year with more playing time on the way.

Butler possesses the most important trait of all in football – the ability to put the ball into the back of the net. She comes alive in the penalty area but is probably at her best when charging past opposition defenders with the ball at her feet and shooting when in sight of the goal.

Rovers have plenty of forward options so Butler will need to be patient, but a run out in the All-Island Cup or a string of impressive performances in training might convince Collie O’Neill that she is ready to be put into the rotation with the likes of Ralph, Stephanie Zambra, Lauren Kelly and Áine O’Gorman.

The other way that Butler can fast-track her way to the senior set-up is by continuing to perform for the Ireland Women’s Under-17s.

SHELBOURNE - Roma McLaughlin

Ahead of the new season kicking off, Roma McLaughlin will celebrate her 26th birthday. Why this is significant is that it suggests that she is entering the prime years of her career.

The Donegal girl has returned to Tolka Park after a year in Denmark with Fortuna Hjorring and four years in Central Connecticut State University previous to that. She has 11 Ireland WNT caps but so much more to give.

Put simply, if McLaughlin can rediscover her best form then she should become a poster girl for the SSE Airtricity Women’s Premier Division. She possesses that rare form of technique that is worth the entry fee alone to watch her control a game like a master puppeteer.

The irony for Shelbourne is that they already have a player of this quality in Alex Kavanagh, but there is no reason why McLaughlin and Kavanagh cannot operate in the same starting line-up. Of course that is terrible news for the rest of the League.

It will be interesting to see where Eoin Wearen sees McLaughlin playing – deeper in the middle of the pitch or perhaps further forward. Either way, she should be thrilling to watch for The Reds.

SLIGO ROVERS - Muireann Devaney

This is a homecoming, of sorts, for Muireann Devaney having previously played for Sligo Rovers at underage level. Plus she hails from Leitrim, so this is a move that makes sense.

After three seasons with Athlone Town, Devaney will be able to make the most of a change of scenery and the opportunity to establish herself in a new team. Sligo will be grateful to have someone of her ability in their midfield.

The 20-year-old definitely has more to give. She was a regular at the Ireland WNT Home-Based Training Sessions, so clearly she was on the radar of the coaching set-up. But in order to break into Eileen Gleeson’s plans she will need to add consistency to her game.

The fact that she will be working with Tommy Hewitt, who brought her to Athlone, is a big positive as he will know how to get the best out of someone who operates at her best when playing as a two-way midfielder.

Devaney is excellent at stealing posession of the ball and moving it forward quickly – particularly with her long-range passing. This is something that will help The Bit O’Red and give captain Emma Hansberry more freedom to act as a playmaker.


After conceding 49 goals in 20 League games last season it was clear that Treaty United needed some help in defence. That is where Kayla Kyle comes in.

Coming from Montreal, Canada, she is a newcomer to the League and that can be a good thing as she will bring fresh eyes and lots of energy. Treaty need to shake things up, so her arrival is good timing.

New manager Dominic Foley also comes in with a blank book to fill in with his tactical approaches, selection preferences and prinicples of play. He will surely be looking at Kyle as someone who can be central to those plans.

The 5ft 10in defender has the athleticism to become a dynamic force in this League and lead by example by playing on the front foot, attacking balls in the air and intercepting passes. Rather than sit back and invite pressure on, Treaty need to meet battles head on.

The Limerick outfit are bound to integrate a lot of new players in 2024, so they will need many of them, including Kyle, to get off to a fast start as it could ultimately determine how their season pans out.

WEXFORD - Millie Daly

Wexford have one of the best left wingers in the League in Ciara Rossiter, so it was somewhat surprising when they announced the signing of Millie Daly. Then again it shouldn’t be a shock.

Squad depth is extremely important with three competitions to compete in this year and also to respond to injuries, suspensions and general changes. So actually bringing in Daly could prove be a very shrewd piece of business.

The former Athlone Town and Shelbourne ace has yet to announce herself in the SSE Airtricity Women’s Premier Division. Don’t worry though, her time is coming and she has the natural talent to catch people’s eye once she gets her chance.

A tricky player with exceptional pace, she is an exciting player to watch. For Wexford fans, she could become a favourite very quickly, especially if she can pick up good habits from Rossiter.

It will be interesting to see if Daly is used on the right side at all – where Abbie Brophy has been the preferred choice – but just getting game-time will be the first priority. When that comes, expect good things from her.