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Women's Football News
Gilly Flaherty goes into Monday's F.A.Women's Cup Final looking to further build on what has been a stunning year.
The 19-year-old was a part of the Arsenal team which won the 'treble' last year before going on to play a major role for the England Under-19s in their UEFA Under-19 Championship success. With the Gunners seemingly on their way to another title, Gilly has the chance to help them to another winner's medal in the Final against Everton.
"Last year was a big occasion for me because it was the first Final that I started in, but we're here again and I'm really looking forward to it," says Gilly. "I've played in a lot of big games both with England Under-19s and Arsenal and I think that big game experience will help me in the Final. In big games, you need your big players to turn up and we've got quite a few of them at Arsenal and that helps with your confidence as well.
"I was really nervous last year because I knew I was starting. I hadn't even come off the bench in previous Cup Finals that I had been involved in, so it was all new to me. You have got to try and prepare like normal, I'll try not to think about the occasion too much before the game and just focus myself and try and relax. It helps that the older players know you are nervous and they try and calm you down and tell me to enjoy the moment."
Gilly herself has gone from strength to strength and continues to hold down a regular place in the Arsenal line up in what has been another season of change at the club, with Laura Harvey taking over as manager during the course of the campaign. That, she insists, has given the whole team an opportunity to show their trophy winning credentials.
"This season I've enjoyed every game, but winning big games and obviously Cup Finals makes it all the more enjoyable," she says. "You try and enjoy the build up and if you win it you'll be happy, but once the whistle goes you've just got to focus and try to enjoy the game.
"We've just been taking it game-by-game this season. There's been a lot of hype about us not being good enough to win the League again but that's just made us even more determined to prove everyone wrong.
"Last year we proved that we've got one of the best team spirits going and we've proved it again in the big games against Everton and Leeds in the league - and we're in another Cup Final as well. We have defended like our lives depended on it and we've all worked for each other.
"We keep quiet, we don't come out and say 'we're going to beat this team', but I think we've showed on the pitch that we're still one of the best teams in the country. Fingers crossed, everything will work out and we'll do the double again this year.
Arsenal have the chance to take on Everton in the Final and Gilly admits that it will be far from an easy game. "I suppose in the past couple of years we've developed a bit of a rivalry with Everton. They are one of the top teams in the league, and beating a big team like that in a Final will make it a lot sweeter."
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