Andrew Dempsey reports from Tolka Park
Shelbourne returned to league action with a two-goal victory over a spirited Limerick at Tolka Park in the Women’s National League.
A brace from Alannah McEvoy helped Shels secure all three points after Noelle Murray opened the scoring early on.
Cara Griffin scored twice in the second half for the Shannonsiders to reduce the arrears to just one before Isibeal Atkinson made sure of the Shelbourne win late on.
The Reds started the game brightly, and should have scored through Jessica Ziu, but the highly-rated youngster was unable to make her chance pay.
While they were in control of the opening stages of the game, Shelbourne almost coughed up the opening goal, but makeshift shot-stopper Noelle Murray was on hand to smother the danger in the absence of the recently departed Amanda McQuillan.
Dave Bell’s side soon made their dominance pay as Murray scored the opening goal of the game from distance.
Her controlled strike was too high for Limerick ‘keeper Karen Connolly who was unable to keep the effort away from goal.
Shels almost made it two minutes later with Jamie Finn and Alex Kavanagh combining in midfield – Kavanagh forced Connolly to fumble the ball but the advancing Ziu was unable to pounce on the opportunity to poke home.
Murray, growing in influence, created a gilt-edged chance for the hosts to put daylight between the sides but Ziu was once again denied by the quick reactions of Connolly in the Blues goal.
However, the first half was not all one-way traffic, with Limerick showing that they were no pushovers – but they did concede a second minutes before the break.
Jamie Finn cut inside to cross to find the free McEvoy at the back post. Connolly was left rooted to her spot as Shels manager Bell saw his side take a two-goal lead into the break.
The Reds continued to press in the early stages of the second half, with sub Rebecca Cooke forcing a brilliant save by the alert Connolly from inside the penalty area.
However, the hosts were not to be denied and through McEvoy, they grabbed their third of the day. Kavanagh fed in the lively forward who slotted home with minimal fuss.
Shelbourne very nearly made it four moments after, going close with Jess Gargan and Murray but it was the visitors who pulled a goal back through Cara Griffin
The youngster glided past two defenders before firing her effort home with a powerful drive as the Blues received a glimmer of hope heading into the final quarter of an hour.
Shels lead was then brought back to a slender one goal margin when Griffin slotted home on the break to score her second of the day past Mooney.
Fears of a late equaliser were relaxed late on when Atkinson fired home at the back post despite suspicions of offside to secure all three points for the hosts – the result keeps the pressure on top of the table Peamount for the time being.
Shelbourne: Kate Mooney; Jessica Gleeson; Jamie Finn, Jessica Gargan, Rachel Graham (Jennifer McDade, 73), Alex Kavanagh, Pearl Slattery, Jessica Ziu (Isibeal Atkinson, h/t); Alannah McEvoy, Noelle Murray, Emily Whelan (Rebecca Cooke, 24).
Limerick WFC: Karen Connolly; Marie Curtin, Shannon Parbat, Anna Shine; Meg Brennan, Lauren Keane, Mora Shine, Cara Griffin, Laura Kavanagh (Shauna Rooney, 70), Mairead Teehan, Eimear O’Brien (Gillian McKenna, 56).
Booked: Gillian McKenna (69).
Referee: Paula Brady.
Extratime.ie Player of the Match: Noelle Murray (Shelbourne).