Soccer: Country’s best in Shels and Peamount to collide

by Dave Donnelly
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WNL Preview  – Shelbourne v Peamount United

By Dave Donnelly

Shelbourne striker Noelle Murray predicts no shortage of entertainment in Tolka Park on Saturday afternoon as they two best teams in the country go head to head.

The Reds sit level with champions Peamount United at the top of the Women’s National League following a tight 1-0 win over Cork City last weekend.

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Murray scored the only goal of the game – a spectacular 25-yard strike that will take some beating in the goal of the season stakes – as Noel King’s side made it six wins from their last seven.

The Peas still have a game in hand, having been handed a bye last weekend, and are the only side in the league to have beaten Shels this season, at PRL Park in April.

Since then, the only points either side have dropped have been draws with Wexford Youths, while both sides were well-represented in the Ireland squad that faced Iceland last month.

“I’m really looking forward to it. With us both top of the league, it’ll be a great game to see,” Murray told the Dublin Gazette.

“They’re a really good team – they work really well together going forward and they defend really well, and they have a lot of individuals who are really good.

“But I really think that if we come out and play to our strengths and play the way we want to play, it’ll be a really good game.”

Shels came within a whisker of snatching the title last season, only missing out following a 3-1 reversal to Peamount in their final game of the season.

The Reds led into the final 15 minutes of that game, only for a double from captain Aine O’Gorman and one from player of the season Karen Duggan to win it for James O’Callaghan’s outfit.

26 June 2021; Emily Whelan, left, and Noelle Murray of Shelbourne prior to the SSE Airtricity Women’s National League match between Shelbourne and Cork City at Tolka Park in Dublin. Photo by Ramsey Cardy/Sportsfile

Former Ireland senior women’s and under-21 men’s boss King came in to replace manager Dave Bell (now assistant with Waterford’s men’s team) in the off-season.

And Cabra native Murray, who won two titles with the club when they operated under the Raheny United banner, feels they’re a better side this year than last.

The addition of Saoirse Noonan from Cork added to a fluid frontline that also includes fellow internationals Jessica Ziu and Emily Whelan.

Murray, who made her international debut at the age of 17, has flourished in the number ten role with the goal against Cork her fifth of the season.

And she, somewhat modestly, plays down how premeditated the goal was as she took advantage of City keeper Maria O’Sullivan straying just a fraction off her line.

“I don’t know where it came from myself,” Murray joked, recalling the sensational strike.

“I’d seen where the goal was and I seen she was slightly off her line, as far out as I was, and it was one of them where as soon as I hit it I knew it was going to go in, but she nearly got to it!” 

Caption: Emily Whelan (left) and Noelle Murray of Shelbourne prior to the WNL clash with Cork City at Tolka Park and (left) Murray in action against Wexford. Photos: Sportsfile/Conor Ryan

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