Marie Hourihan says her first season with Man City Women has exceeded her expectations. On Sunday, she wants to better it.
Nick Cushing's side - crowned league champions for the first time last weekend - have the chance to clinch their second piece of silverware in seven days when Birmingham visit the Academy Stadium on Sunday 2 October in the Continental Tyres Cup final.
Having played every minute in the competition, Hourihan is eager to help the Blues write their names onto the trophy for the second time in three seasons.
We caught up with the goalkeeper to find out her thoughts on the clash, how her debut campaign has panned out and how the players are feeling in the midst of the club's most exciting period...
In Marie Hourihan's words...
"It’s great to have been a part of these last few weeks and to be part of the ones coming. Of course, there was the excitement leading up to last weekend's game and winning the league for the first time and now it's the lead-up to the cup final and the first Champions League game.
"With the hard work that’s been put in and the fact we’re unbeaten as top scorers, having conceded just three goals, we’ve deserved it. It was nice to do it on Sunday at home in front of such a big crowd against Chelsea.
"It was a bit surreal because I won the league last season with Chelsea but as I say, we’ve been the most consistent team this year. Winning the title against the reigning champions was a great way for us to do it.
"We’ve got another big game this weekend which we’re looking forward to.
"This competition means a lot to the club because it was the first trophy we won – the start of the journey.
"We’re all desperate to win it again and take that momentum into the Champions League hopefully.
"I've really enjoyed my first season here. Being successful in all competitions was the ambition at the start of the season, but being in and around the team and the environment has definitely exceeded my expectations.
"I hadn’t realised how much of a team it is. It’s a great bunch of people and it’s nice to come in, working around these facilities with your friends. The fact we’re all working well together and getting results makes it all the more special. I’m really happy to be here and be part of a successful team.
"When I came to City, Nick spoke to me and assured me I’d be playing games. I knew the Continental Tyres Cup would be my avenue and opportunity to play so for me, the competition is extra special. If we win it, it will mean that little bit more, with me having played throughout.
"I have to say though, KB and I have a great relationship. We really work well together and I think results have proven that. Competition is tough as a goalkeeper but ultimately, we want to make each other the best we can be because that’s what’s best for the team. I think we’ve done that.
"We didn't have much time to celebrate the league title with the cup final this Sunday. I'm expecting an exciting, end-to-end game.
"Birmingham are tough opposition. I played for them a few years ago so I know their management and I know how they think and set their teams up. It will be very difficult and they will be very organised.
"They’ve done very well this year and they have a lot of good, young players. At the end of the day, it’s their cup final as well and they’ll be hoping to win it as much as we will be. I think the fans will enjoy it.
"We’ve got a great fanbase and they will be important. Everyone appreciates our support. Looking back to the semi-final against Arsenal, we’d had some difficult circumstances in the days beforehand but also during the game, and the support was superb. It really did make a difference.
"The fact the game is being played at our stadium won’t affect Birmingham – if anything, it will galvanise them. I know their mentality and they’ll work it to their advantage. They're a well-supported club so they’ll have a lot of fans here anyway. That will add to the atmosphere even more. It’s a case of: whoever wants it most on the day will win it.
"We know our fans will raise their game and hopefully, we will too on the pitch."
Play your part and cheer City on in the Continental Tyres Cup final. Book your place here.