Search icon


23rd Apr 2024

Hayley Nolan eager for more glory days in green after impressive English football feat

Patrick McCarry

Hayley Nolan

Eileen Gleeson will be delighted to have more players mixing it in the English top flight.

This Sunday, Crystal Palace face Sunderland in the Women’s Championship (WSL 2) having all but clinched promotion to the Women’s Super League with a game to spare. Three Ireland internationals have helped Palace on their way, with Hayley Nolan playing every single minute of the successful campaign.

Palace defeated Birmingham, Lewes, Durham and Watford in their last four games and are now three points clear of Charlton, and with a superior goal difference of 22, with a game to go. They are champions in all but name, and will be mixing it with the likes of Arsenal, Manchester City, Chelsea, Manchester United and Liverpool, next season.

“We want to finish the season on a high,” Nolan tells us. “The game is going to be at Selhurst Park, and we are expecting a record crowd. With any luck, we’ll hopefully have a trophy to lift.”

Nolan is just 90 minutes away from another feat, as she will have played every minute of the league campaign for Palace. In total, she has played 24 times this season, scoring twice and being centre-back in a miserly defence that has conceded less than a goal a game. Having played a lot in midfield, the past few seasons have seen Nolan transition into a centre defender.

The Kildare native started off playing for Johnstown United, coached by her dad, John, but moved to Kill Celtic at an early and played with the boys team until she was 13. It was then on to Peamount United. “Many of the best players in the country, you’ll find, have played with Peamount at one point or another.”

Nolan spent four years in the United States, playing football at university then for the Connecticut Fusion, before joining the London City Lionesses. She was there for three years before the switch to Palace, last season. She was delighted, earlier this season, to be joined by fellow Ireland internationals, Izzy Atkinson and Abbie Larkin.

Hayley Nolan
Hayley Nolan has been a mainstay for Crystal Palace Women, this season. (Credit: Sportsfile)

Hayley Nolan eager for more Ireland adventures

“To get so close to our promotion dream is something special,” says Hayley Nolan. “I really enjoyed my time at London City, where I had a couple of near misses with promotion, but I could tell this club was really going places, as soon as I arrived.

“There is a real family atmosphere around the club, and a great sense of community. So many people from the area have a real buy-in with the club, and will get involved any way they can.”

Having played every minute she could for both London City and Palace, over the past two seasons, Nolan has two big goals in mind – hit the ground running in the Women’s Soccer League, next season, and get back in with the Ireland senior squad. She, and several teammates, are cutting short summer plans to get back early for 2024/25 pre-season. “We don’t want to get caught flat-footed,” she explains. ‘There are some top players in the WSL and it is the premier league in the world, right now. We want to be ready.”

Playing regularly in the Women’s Super League will hopefully boost the 27-year-old’s chances of getting back into the Ireland squad. She was first called into the senior squad in 2019 but had to wait until 2021 to make her debut, under Vera Pauw. She was included in the wider training squad for the 2023 World Cup, but missed out on final selection.

“I haven’t missed a minute for two seasons,” says Nolan, “so I’m trying to show that consistency and being a player my team can rely on. That’s all I can do. Come September, I want to be doing that again in the WSL and hopefully Eileen (Gleeson, the Ireland manager) comes knocking.”

*Join SportsJOE’s WhatsApp community for first access to news, sports updates, and quizzes. Click on this link to receive news and the latest sports headlines directly to your phone.  You can leave the group at any time.

Related links:

WATCH: Liverpool BOTTLED the title race 🤬 | Who will win the Premier League?