Hansberry named Bus Éireann Women's National League Player of the Month
CASTLEBAR CELTIC'S Emma Hansberry has been confirmed as the Bus Éireann Women's National League player of the month for January & February.
The Mayo side has cemented itself as the third strongest team in the league this term and the 19-year-old midfielder's form has been instrumental in Celtic closing the gap on champions Raheny United and perennial rivals Peamount United.
Sligo native Hansberry believes the award is testament to the progress Adrian Carberry's side has made this season.
"I was delighted when I heard I'd won the award. I'm the second person from Castlebar Celtic to win the award in the last three years so it's a great honour to pick up the award and it's a nice memento for the club because we've worked hard for the past few months. It's nice for somebody to get the award," she said.
Former U19 international Hansberry admitted that Celtic are striving to reduce the gap between themselves and the big Dublin sides over the coming 12 months.
"We'd love to catch the big two but at this stage of the season we'd be happy to claim third spot. We're already looking forward to next season because we feel with the players we have now and the players we brought in after Christmas we can compete with the top two Peamount and Raheny United next season," added Hanberry.
"We're hoping to keep hold of third spot but Wexford and Galway have moved up the rankings too and they're getting stronger week after week. We need to keep relaxed and focused and try to clinch that third spot.
"We brought in Maria Bones, Geraldine McLoughlin, Aoife Brennan, Lauren Bowles and they've added a great amount to the squad. We feel now we can look to a strong bench. There's been a great commitment in our team for the last few months.
"The cup final in the Aviva in November gave us a great boost and there's great morale in the squad. We're hoping to keep the good form that we're in."
Celtic proved their quality on live TV in November when they pushed Raheny to extra-time in a thrilling Women's FAI Umbro Cup Final at Aviva Stadium and the Mayo outfit are keen to show that the levels they reached that day can be reproduced on a more consistent basis.
"It was a real confidence boost. It was great to play in the Aviva. It was brilliant for women's football not just the two teams. It was great to show people watching around the country and outside Ireland how far women's football has come in Ireland," she said.
"We know in Castlebar as a squad that we could challenge next season. We really feel if we can keep the squad we have at the moment and keep the management we can be strong contenders for the title next year."
Hansberry is one of a number of talented young Castlebar players hoping that their recent form will catch the attention of senior women's international team head coach Sue Ronan in 2014.
"The plan is to break into the senior squad eventually. I'd love to do that. Obviously they have great players in there already and I'm waiting for my opportunity to come but if I get that opportunity I'll grab it with both hands," added Hansberry.
"I'll keep working hard with Castlebar and tipping away in the league. I think other girls in Castlebar deserve a spot too so hopefully we will get the recognition too."