Leanne Kiernan: I felt really good out there on my return
West Ham United Women’s forward Leanne Kiernan made her long-awaited return from injury on Sunday afternoon against Manchester City.
The appearance was Kiernan’s first in Claret and Blue since the middle of November, when she came on as a late substitute against Brighton & Hove Albion.
The Irish forward played the final 20 minutes in the sunshine at Victoria Road and the 22-year-old, having shaken off her injury troubles, was understandably pleased to be back on the pitch.
“It felt unbelievable to be back out there on the pitch,” Kiernan expressed.
“It’s been a tough season for me personally because of injury and it’s been six months since I’ve had the feeling of being out there, so it was so pleasing to be helping the girls in that final 20 minutes.”
I’d like to thank all of our medical staff and coaches for getting me back out on the pitch before the end of the season
This was the former Shelbourne striker’s tenth appearance of the season, a campaign that has been hampered by injury.
The smile that shone from Kiernan at full-time was the realisation that six months of rehabilitation and hard work had finally paid off.
“It’s been a lot of really long days in the gym trying to get myself back," she admitted.
"It’s been hard because the team have played at these really big stadiums like Old Trafford and Villa Park throughout the season and you’re there, but you’re not able to step out onto the grass and play.
“It’s not nice when you’re out injured and not a part of it for so long, so being back in there was definitely an emotional day for me."
The Hammers were narrowly beaten 1-0 by Gareth Taylor’s Manchester City – who were themselves narrowly beaten to the 2020/21 Barclays FA Women’s Super League title by Chelsea.
Despite the result, it was a performance full of energy and hard work from the home side, and a game that Kiernan was pleased to be involved in.
“Credit to Manchester City because they’re a very good team, but I thought we played well.
"We had two players making their first starts in the WSL out there today [in Maisy Barker and Anouk Denton] and as a team I think we showed what we’re about. We were very courageous, and everyone worked incredibly hard.
“I felt really good out there to be honest, which is great. I did one sprint when I first came on and I was blowing! But, other than that, I feel like I was able to match the tempo of the game. I’d like to thank all of our medical staff and coaches for getting me back out on the pitch before the end of the season.”
The Hammers will now travel to Manchester to face City once again on Sunday in the Vitality Women’s FA Cup.
Harder’s side cruised past Chichester & Selsey in the previous round – and the aim in the North-West will be to book a place in the fifth round.
“You never know with the FA Cup,” Kiernan explained. “It’s still all to play for.
"We’re a good group of girls here and our aim is to always go out there, give 100 per cent and try and pick up a win, so that won’t change going up to Manchester City on Sunday.
"We want to advance in the FA Cup, so that’s what we will be aiming to do.”
The FA Cup fourth round tie will kick off at 2pm on Sunday 16 May at the Academy Stadium.
Interested in becoming a West Ham United Women's Season Ticket Holder? Register your interest by clicking here!