Caymen Island footballer Kehoe chasing Cardiff treble

From the Cayman Islands, to closer to Barry Island.

When you have grown up on a beach paradise, Wales at its wettest might not seem like the place to chase your dreams.

Yet Molly Kehoe feels differently.

Which is why the 19-year-old made a journey of faith and almost 5,000 miles last summer to sign for Cardiff City.

In doing so, she became headline news in her homeland as one of the most high-profile football exports produced by the tiny tropical nation.

And as she chases a treble with the Bluebirds in this weekend’s FAW Women’s Cup final she is only likely to be enhancing her reputation as – as one of the local news outlets describes her – the Cayman Islands’ top footballer, male or female.

“There’s no better feeling than having people proud of you, especially when you’re all the way across the world,” Kehoe says, who has six senior caps for her country.

“Knowing my whole country is behind me feels great, knowing the support you have.”

The forward says she is still getting used to the Welsh weather, just as she is trying to get used to the fact that many back home are suddenly following her progress having signed for the semi-pro Welsh champions after a touch of sun-kissed serendipity.

The population of the British overseas territory is only a tad more than the capacity of Cardiff’s Principality Stadium, so understandably opportunities are limited.

“Football’s pretty big at home, a lot of people play, and I wanted to from a very young age,” Kehoe says, adding she was initially not allowed to join boys’ teams and then had to wait longer to play against other girls in school teams.

“There’s only a certain amount of girls who play. It was frustrating; if you want to get somewhere in football you have to get off the island, so it’s either going to the States or the UK.”

The US called first, heading to a boarding school in Georgia to play before Covid interrupted and added to a desire to return.

“I was adamant I wasn’t going to leave home again, but a coach who came from Cardiff called Mark Jeffries moved to Cayman and started coaching my club team. When he saw me he said, ‘Oh, you shouldn’t be here'.”

A quick call to the Bluebirds manager Iain Darbyshire and a two-week trial was arranged. Kehoe impressed, signed, and went on to score 12 goals in 24 appearances, including a South Wales derby winner.

She made her debut in the Champions League and helped her side retain the Adran Premier title as well as the Adran Trophy.

Her first goal for Cardiff in October – when she collected the club’s player of the month award – came just days after scoring for her country in a 2-2 draw with Anguilla in Gold Cup qualifiers.

That was the last time she returned home, although is preparing to pack her bags – medals included – following Sunday’s final against Wrexham in Newport.

Her sports-loving parents will be following from afar, even if dad Mick had wanted her to play rugby, the other sport she has represented her country at.

“I’m either a 9 or a 10,” she says. “I played a lot of sports growing up; I used to run track and also roller hockey at one point, but my whole family played rugby, including my mum.

“I followed the Six Nations when it was on, but I haven’t been offered a game – I don’t think anyone would look at me and say, ‘Oh, she plays rugby!'”

Besides, the football is well worth her focus as Wrexham – who have their own overseas celebrity status – look to cause an upset at Rodney Parade.

Kehoe – who has four goals in five meetings with Wrexham this term - says she has been impressed with how talented the squad is at Cardiff and is hopeful of a third trophy with a squad she says have done much to help her settle the other side of the world.

And given their dominance this season, there would be no surprise at more success for Cardiff and for Kehoe; the player from the islands in the team.