From New Jersey to Athlone, it's been quite a journey for Madison Gibson, Dana Scheriff, Jesi Rossman and Lauren Karabin.

The American quartet all played together at Monmouth University in the USA. Now, they are the toast of the Irish midlands after helping the club to a memorable Sports Direct FAI Cup penalty shootout win over Shelbourne.

Scheriff was the first to make the move, arriving in 2021 after spells in England and Iceland. When Athlone needed another attacker, she coaxed her old college pal Gibson across the Atlantic.

Rossman and Karabin arrived later as Ciaran Kilduff revitalised the squad following his appointment as manager in June. The foursome's old ties have helped them to build a very effective on-field unit.

"Dana and I won four conference championships in college together so... we wanted to win one together here," Gibson reflected after Sunday's triumph.

"I think me, her, Jesi and Lauren all play so well together because we played in college. That's definitely a plus.

"Dana was basically the reason why I came over here so I'm super happy that she thought of me when she was looking for another forward to play on the team. I'm delighted we got to play together again and now we've won a Cup!"

Florida-born Rossman ended up scoring the winning penalty as her cool conversion was followed by Alex Kavanagh's decisive miss. She elaborated on the vibe the quartet enjoy on the pitch after a really gutsy and tough Athlone performance.

"We all played in college together. It’s nice to be back here, we have a good chemistry, it’s been fun to play with them again," said Rossman.

"I've never played in front of this many people. It was such a fun environment to be in. This doesn’t compare [to college football]. We had games with a lot of fans and a lot of people in the stands but nothing like in a stadium like this."

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Skipper Laurie Ryan said the strong American influence works only because they've completely embraced life in Athlone.

It's difficult to convince players from abroad to come and settle outside of Dublin - an issue many of the men's clubs contend with too - but Athlone have worked hard to maximise the advanatges they have at their disposal and create their own niche in the football landscape.

"It's funny, they’re over from America, but I consider them locals because they live in Athlone," said Ryan.

"Whenever I want to go for a coffee, they’re the ones that I get on to.

"They’re immersed in the club, they’re there full-time. They’re always floating around. All their family have come over and visited. Dana probably is the prime example of someone who stuck with the club after being injured all last year.

"Sitting on the sidelines watching on. For her to come back and do what she’s done this year is really special. I think the fact that they have that bond from college, the four girls played together previous.

"That’s massive and that’s really special for them. It has been great and it can only strengthen the league. The quality of player that we have in those Americans is top class.

"It’s not like we’re bringing over people just to make up numbers. It probably suits Athlone because we’re a little bit outside the capital. Getting girls to travel isn’t always easy. We’re trying to utilise what we have. Between that and the college, we’re looking to make the most of it."