Super Shels show no sign of rust in National League Cup final

by Dave Donnelly
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WNL League Cup Final
Shelbourne 1
Wexford Youths 0

Shelbourne picked up the first silverware of the 2019 season as they saw off Wexford Youths in the final of the Women’s National League Cup on Sunday afternoon.

Ireland senior international Emily Whelan’s goal after 17 minutes proved the difference between two well-match teams at Ferrycarrig Park.

Shels hadn’t played for a full month due to the involvement of three squad members – Amanda McQuillan, Chloe Mustaki and Jess Gargan – in the World University Games in Naples.

That was an Ireland side, with Shels boss Dave Bell as assistant to Dave Connell, who shocked many by recording a best-ever finish of fourth place, losing on penalties to Russia in the third-place game.

There were no signs of ring-rustiness as they returned to the fray in Wexford, however, as they created a string of chances in the early stages.

Alex Kavanagh forced Maeve Williams into action after just two minutes, while Whelan had the ball in the net in the 14th minute but saw her celebrations curtailed by the assistant’s offside flag.

Wexford’s first real chance came just before the half-hour as McKenna Davidson released Rianna Jarrett but, from a tight angle, the Ireland striker couldn’t beat McQuillan in the Shels goal.

Noelle Murray forced Williams into a save ten minutes into the second half when she met Kavanaghs cross with her head but, once more, the Youths stopper averted the danger.

She couldn’t hold out forever, however, as Whelan charged into the box and slipped the ball through Williams’ legs from the narrowest of angles.

A bout of head tennis in the Shels box saw the ball drop kindly for sub Becky Cassin, but her volley flew over the bar and the visitors held out comfortably for the victory.

Shels are currently five points behind the champions, but with two games in hand, and ten behind Peamount, as they prepare to return to Wexford in the league on Saturday.

Defender Mustaki believes they have a chance of snatching the title, although it would require them to win virtually every game and rely on Peamount slipping up.

“I think there’s definitely a chance we can do it.

“Obviously, it requires us winning pretty much every game from here on out,” the Cabinteely native told the Dublin Gazette.

“I’m sure Peamount will have to drop some points at some point, and Wexford are only a couple of points ahead of us and we have [two] games in hand.”

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