Women’s national league – Shelbourne 2 – DLR Waves 1
By Dave Donnelly
SHELBOURNE came out on top of a fiercely-contested Dublin Derby at Tolka Park to keep the pressure on champions Peamount United at the top of the Women’s National League.
A goal in either half from Ireland internationals Emily Whelan and Noelle Murray, the latter from the penalty spot, saw Noel King’s side make it three wins from four to move up to third place.
They had to battle for the three points in the latter stages as a spectacular 35-yard effort from Carla McManus halved the deficit but Waves couldn’t find a finish as they laid siege to the Shels goal.
“It’s a great result. Nine points out of 12, a good start to the season, and it was a crucial game coming on the back of the Peamount result,” Shels boss King told the Dublin Gazette.
“Everybody was anxious and determined to succeed, which they did. We played well and dominated the game, but the last seven minutes were pretty frantic.”
If Peamount’s five wins from five has set a somewhat ominous tone for the remainder of the campaign, their south Dublin counterparts Waves have been one of the league’s surprise packages.
Waves were unlucky not to take all three points from their opening-day encounter with Wexford Youths, but wins at home to Galway and away to Cork City saw them surge into second.
Defeat to the Reds means Peamount now boast the league’s sole unbeaten record, but Graham Kelly’s side made Shels graft for what would have been a routine victory in seasons past.
“I thought we were the better team. Large parts of the game, I thought we controlled it. It’s a tough one but we have to take it and move on,” Kelly told the Dublin Gazette.
Chances were at a premium in a tense opening half as little quarter was given from either side and defences were very much on top.
Whelan had the game’s first chance of note midway through the opening period but the 18-year-old couldn’t pick out the bottom corner of Eve Badana’s net.
It took a moment of magic from winger Jessica Ziu to unlock the Waves defence shortly before half time, and her precise lofted pass yielded the opener as Whelan hooked past the advancing Badana.
The goal seemed to open the game up and Waves captain Catherine Cronin had a great chance to tie things up five minutes after the restart.
Jessie Stapleton’s clearance was blocked down by Kerri Letmon and, though Stapleton managed to nick the ball away from Nadine Clare, it fell nicely for Cronin.
The winger’s shot on the turn was well-saved by Amanda Budden and, from the resulting corner, Niamh Prior saw her effort easily dealt-with by the keeper.
Shels had their second moments afterwards as Jess Gleeson, playing against the side she left in the winter, was harshly adjudged to have handled in the box and Murray send Badana the wrong way.
Waves weren’t done, however, and they pulled one back seven minutes from time as Katie Malone found sub McManus, and her long-range effort moved viciously in the air to evade Budden’s dive.
The visitors poured forward in injury time, but Niamh Barnes couldn’t get Rachel Doyle’s corner under control, while Budden made a great double save from Clare and McManus.
PHOTOS – Martin Doherty