Swansea City were actually confirmed as champions the weekend before, despite not kicking a ball, as title rivals Cardiff Met were held at home by Abergavenny in a 1-1 draw. It was enough to hand Ian Owen's side the title for the first time since 2010/2011, and with it claim a place in next seasons UEFA Women's Champions League qualifiers. “Every season our aim is to win the league,” explained Owen.
“It's the toughest competition that we play in and we know that the prize of playing European football is the reward. I'm immensely proud of all the girls and the backroom staff for what we have achieved. We have amateur players and voluntary staff who work hard day in, day out, and I take my hat off to them. We are demanding in our expectations as we want to be the best that we can be, but everyone is very committed to working hard for the team.”
The Swans have been in the shadow of Cardiff Met in recent seasons, finishing runners-up to the students in each of the last two campaigns, but this season the side not only boast the best defence in the league but also the best attack. “We have always been defensively strong and that has given us a great platform to build from,” Owen added. “But this season we have added goals with Jodie Passmore and Stacey John both scoring over 20 goals each, which has been fantastic.”
Fittingly, Passmore and John were both on target for Swansea City on Sunday as they celebrated their league success with a 5-0 win over Cyncoed in their final match of the campaign. Sophie Hancocks opened the scoring before Stacey Webber, John, Katie Davies and Passmore completed the scoring. After the match the team were presented with the Orchard Welsh Premier Women's League title trophy.
The campaign began with a dramatic 5-4 reverse against Abergavenny at Llandarcy in September. The side were also held to a 2-2 draw by then-champions Cardiff Met later that month, but have since kept 10 clean sheets in the league. The rivalry with Cardiff Met also continued into the cup competitions, as in addition to a penalty shoot-out defeat in the FAW Women's Cup final, it was the students that knocked Swansea City out of the League Cup at the semi-final stage as they went onto to eventually lift the trophy.
“Our pre-season tour of the United States was an amazing experience and our young players in particular certainly gained a lot from it,” explained Owen. “The standard of football out there was a lot higher than what we are used to but you could see the players improving and developing during the time that we were there. It's something that we would love to do again.”
With a place in the UEFA Women's Champions League confirmed, preparation will again be key for Owen and his side as they eagerly await the draw. “It's going to be a bit of unknown quantity before the draw is made but we're under no illusions about how difficult it will be,” he added. “Our previous games in the competition were played in hot conditions, but we've learnt lessons from that, and we will make sure that we are fully-prepared.”
But while Swansea City have deservedly earned plaudits for their performances during the course of the current campaign, there has also been international recognition for the side, headlined by Emma Beynon's inclusion in Jayne Ludlow's squad for the recent Cyprus Cup tournament.
“Emma certainly deserved to be involved with the national team as she's worked incredibly hard and has improved a lot during the season,” Owen added. “It also inspires the other players as they can see a pathway from the league to the national team, and there are players in our team, and in the league, that are also good enough. The league is improving as there more competitive games now, and teams are a lot more organised.”
Elsewhere on Sunday, the final league games of the season saw Cardiff City claim a convincing 5-1 win over Rhyl while Llandudno defeated Abergavenny 4-2. Port Talbot Town took the lead at former champions Cardiff Met, but the students equalised to end the season with a 1-1 draw.