Shelbourne celebrate their epic final day league title sealing victory

by Aaron Dunne
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Jessie Stapleton proved the leading lady on a final day so dramatic it could yet get a mention at the Oscars. 

The Shels hero hit a double at Tolka Park to ensure a happy ending for her team on a WNL  last day that saw more action and plot twists than the entire Netflix roster combined.

Ultimately Shels emerged top of the pile after beating Wexford by the odd goal in five to pip Peamount to the SSE Airtricity Women’s National League title.

The northside side went into the final day with an outside chance of success. The TV cameras were Newcastle to film the coronation of Peamount United who only had to defeat Galway at home to make it three league titles in a row.

At 2-0 up after just 20 minutes had elapsed it appeared a strong Peas side were set to canter into the winner’s circle but Shels were given hope just before halftime as the Tribeswomen fired back to level.

The Drumcondra side then put one hand on the title when they trebled their lead after the turn and put the little finger of their other hand on the trophy when Galway completed the comeback and went a goal to the good in Greenogue.  

However, just as it became apparent the Westerners were going to do Noel King’s side a massive favour – going 4-2 and 5-2 up in a sensational TV game- Wexford threatened to ruin the party.

Bridesmaids in the last two seasons, Shelbourne had to survive a nervy final few final day minutes as Wexford got back within one with five minutes to go.

However, Shels managed to hold their nerve and emerged from one of the most dramatic league title races with the title and celebrated their first title win since 2016.

Speaking to the captain Pearl Slattery reflected on the win saying: It was bizarre. I was really strong with the girls coming into the game that we had to do our job and win our game, because if we slip up and they slip up, we’d be tormented.

“I think at one point Jessica Ziu said to me it was 2-2 [in Peamount] and I kind of gave out to her, like ‘don’t worry about that game, worry about ours.’

“Midway through the second half, the crowd erupted in Tolka – I’ve never heard anything like it.  And I thought, ‘that’s a bid odd, there’s something happening in that other game.’

“Then we went 3-0 up, then it went 3-1, and then at one stage I heard it was 4-2 [in Peamount] and I couldn’t believe it.

“It was like we’d won the league, the cheer. I just knew that Galway were winning from that. No one had told me the score. I just knew because everyone was jumping from their seats

“Then Wexford pulled it back and it was 3-2 with five minutes to go, and Peamount were not going to win, and we just needed to win.

“It’s just the stuff of dreams – I’ll never experience a day like that in football again. 

“I’ve been around long enough and sometimes it’s your time,” she added.

Shelbourne celebrate their epic final day league title sealing victory

Shels captain Pearl Slattery (above) celebrates with her team-mates and supporters after the SSE Airtricity Women’s National League match between Shelbourne and Wexford Youths at Tolka Park. Photo: Eóin Noonan/Sportsfile

Down and out: Peamount’s Dora Gorman sits dejected after her side’s defeat to Galway at PLR Park in Greenogue cost them the title. Photo:Sam Barnes/Sportsfile

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