Hannah Power, Danielle Broadhurst, Danielle Green, Seren Watkins and Rhianne Oakley celebrate winning the Adran Premier title

Cardiff City FC Women | 2023 in Review

As we reach the end of 2023, we take a look back at a remarkable year for the Bluebirds
Lisa Owen in action for Cardiff City Women

At the end of last season, City were crowned Adran Premier champions for the second time in the Club’s history, finishing top of the table by a margin of 13 points.

The title was secured with a 3-1 victory over The New Saints, in which captain Siobhan Walsh fittingly netted a brace after playing a key role throughout the campaign.

Three weeks later, City lifted the trophy at Cardiff City Stadium, after a 3-1 win over Swansea City Women.

Reflecting on a memorable league campaign, head coach Iain Darbyshire said: “It’s been an incredible year. We’ve achieved what we set out to, which was to win the league and play in Europe. It was something that we hadn’t done as a Club for ten years and something that was long overdue. It’s given us plenty of building blocks going into 2024.”

The Bluebirds also found success in the Bute Energy Welsh Cup with a 4-0 win in the final over Briton Ferry Llansawel.

Right-back Lisa Owen is part of a strong core of players who have represented the Bluebirds for a number of years.

Playing her part in winning two trophies at senior level in 2023, Lisa added: “It’s been an amazing year and it couldn’t have gone much better for us as a squad.

“Looking back, it was an amazing feeling that you can’t even describe after playing for the team for years. I’m so grateful and lucky enough to be a part of it.”

Cardiff City Women Squad

As a result of City’s league title win, the Bluebirds earned a place in the UEFA Women’s Champions League, competing in the first qualifying round in Lithuania.

Iain Darbyshire’s side faced Lithuanian champions FC Gintra, before taking on Shelbourne of the Republic of Ireland.

Despite being defeated in both fixtures, the experience provided invaluable learning, with the majority of the squad making their debuts in European competition.

One of those debutants was Lisa, who came on as a second half substitute against Shelbourne.

“It’s something you dream of being a part of,” Lisa said. “To have that dream come true is something very special. I’m so proud of everyone in our squad.”

After his first taste of coaching in European competition, Iain added: “I’m very proud of the squad and the staff for making it happen. It was a massive learning experience. It’s something that we wanted to do as a Club, but also a personal goal of mine to coach in the Champions League. We know now what the level is and where we need to get to.”

Noah Bushby in Cardiff City Women U19 training

It’s also been an impressive year for our U19s side, who were crowned national champions for the second consecutive year.

Noah Bushby’s side defeated Wrexham 2-0 in the national final in Newtown to achieve the feat for a second consecutive season.

As well as gaining silverware, the U19s squad have also provided competition for the squad at senior level, with Summer Bowen-Quirk, Brooke Arthur, Mali Ackerman, Demi Parry, Grace Phillips, Olivia Basham and Madison Lloyd all featuring for Darbyshire’s senior team.

Reflecting on 2023, Noah said: “It’s been a fantastic year for the club. We’ve seen a lot of development across the 19s and the senior team and we couldn’t be prouder of all the players who have represented our Club.

“Although the trophies are great, seeing players develop is where I see the most pride. My main goal is to help develop the players we have coming through our team. We’ve had 14 of our U19s train with the senior team this season and eight of them appear in matchday squads. That is outstanding for our Club to be able to produce young players like that and seeing them step up.”

Molly Kehoe in action for Cardiff City Women

The Bluebirds’ form from last season has continued into this campaign, having made an unbeaten start to the Adran Premier season, whilst also progressing through both the Bute Energy Welsh Cup and the Adran Trophy.

City currently sit six points at the top of the table, with five games left to play in Phase One.

Iain continued: “We’re in a very good position. January and February are very hard, that’s where you really earn your stripes. If we can come out the other side continuing our unbeaten record, we will be in a very good position going into Phase Two.

Right-back Owen, who has accumulated two Player of the Month nominations this season, added: “To be six points clear on top of the table going into January is massive for us. We’ve worked really hard as a squad on and off the field and it’s great to show our hard work has paid off.”