Shelbourne will be looking to gain some ground on Women’s National League leaders Peamount United when they host Athlone Town at Tolka Park on Saturday afternoon (kick-off 2pm).
The Reds are five points off the top of the table after their 0-0 draw with rivals Wexford Youths at their home in Drumcondra last Saturday.
With Peamount facing Wexford this weekend it could be a good opportunity for Shelbourne to close the gap at the top of the table depending on what unfolds across the League this weekend.
Noel King’s side went unbeaten in May with four wins to their name prior to the draw with Youths last weekend, the Reds have been recognized for this good form with two players nominated for the WNL Player of the Month for May as Jess Stapleton and Emily Whelan both made the shortlist.
Noel King will still be without the services of Rebecca Creagh, Alex Kavanagh and Chloe Mustaki who are still recovering from injury.
Rebecca Cooke has re-signed for the club having come back from the USA and she could make her comeback against Athlone Town on Saturday.
Four of the Reds have been called up to teh Ireland squad for the games against Iceland next week with Saoirse Noonan, Ciara Grant, Jamie Finn and Jessica Ziu all set to travel. The quartet will still be available this weekend's WNL game.
After finally obtaining their first win of the season when they faced Galway two weeks ago, the Town suffered a tough loss last week when they hosted Bohemians at Lissywollen.
Despite taking the lead in the first half after a great goal from Katelyn Keogh, the visitors netted twice without reply through Erica Burke to take the lead.
Athlone battled hard in the second half to find an equalizer and they got their reward when Roisin Molloy met an Emma Donohoe corner to draw the sides level.
It wouldn’t stay that way however, and a goalkeeping error granted the winning goal to Chloe Darby in the 66th minute to seal the victory for the Gypsies.
There are a lot of positives for Tommy Hewitt’s side though as they go into the mid-season break, a win under their bely and 18 year old Muireann Devaney being nominated for the WNL Player of the Month for May being just two.
Saturday’s game is another tough challenge for Athlone but with his side proving hard to beat in most games, their manager is expecting a good performance at the very least similar to their previous meeting with Shelbourne at the start of the season.
“We played Shels here at the start of the season, exceptional side and we’re going to have to be at our best,” Hewitt told extratime.com after their 3-2 loss to Bohemians last weekend.
“Hopefully Shelbourne will have an off day, but we’ll still go there with positivity and we’ll work hard.
“We seem to do better against the bigger teams for whatever reason performance-wise. We’ll refocus and get ready for Shelbourne next week.”
Jessica Hennessy is still out injured for the Town while Leah Brady has also been ruled out after picking up an injury during last week’s loss to Bohemians.
Fiona Owens and Abbiegale Ronayne are absent due to Leaving Certificate commitments.
Tommy Hewitt’s assistants will take charge of the Town this weekend as the manager is also unavailable.
The sides have met twice in the Women’s National League since Athlone joined in 2020. Shels have won both meetings.
Athlone hosted the Reds earlier this season, Noel King’s side ran out 2-0 winners on the day.
Shels are unbeaten in five games.
Shelbourne 1/16; Draw 7/1; Athlone Town 12/1.
Shelbourne 2–0 Athlone Town
Injured: Rebecca Creagh, Alex Kavanagh and Chloe Mustaki.
Injured: Jessica Hennessy, Leah Brady.
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