President's Cup Final Report: Athlone Town 2 - 2 Shelbourne (Athlone Town win 5 - 4 on penalties)

Muireann Devaney in action for Athlone Town during the 2022 season.

Muireann Devaney in action for Athlone Town during the 2022 season. Credit: Gerry Shanahan (ETPhotos)

Goalkeeper Ciara Glackin was the hero for Athlone Town as they overcame reigning league and cup champions Shelbourne in the Women’s President’s Cup after a dramatic penalty shootout at the Athlone Town Stadium on Saturday evening.

Glackin saved two penalties in the decisive shootout after the sides had fought out an enthralling 2-2 draw over the regulation 90 minutes.

And it was Shelbourne who came out of the blocks quickest, building a two-goal lead before a quarter hour had elapsed.

The opened came after just eight minutes when a loose ball rebounded to Noelle Murray who looped her first time shot over new signing Nyla Peterkin in the Athlone goal and into the home net.

Five minutes later another Athlone signing, Shauna Brennan, was dutifully facing down the run of Shelbourne’s Siobhan Killeen when the winger’s attempted cross struck Brennan’s arm. Referee Louise Thompson pointed to the spot and Alex Kavanagh put it away to double the visitors’ lead.

Shels might have added a third when Jemma Quinn was played through but had her shot well saved by Peterkin and with half-time looming, they looked in complete control of the game. But that would change on 37 minutes when Athlone pulled one back.

Roisin Molloy’s determination was the catalyst, providing Muireann Devaney with the ball inside the Shelbourne box. She played a neat one-two with Scarlett Herron and then tucked the ball past Courtney Maguire to give her side an unexpected lifeline. 

Goalkeeper Glackin came on for the second half alongside midfielder Kate Slevin with Maddison Gibson shifting inside from the left to take on the striker’s role.

If Shelbourne ran the show in the opening period it was Athlone’s turn to shine in the next forty-five minutes. They caused the Reds all kinds of problems, most of which were solved by Jess Stapleton’s superb defensive instincts.

But not even Stapleton could do anything about Athlone’s equaliser which arrived on 68 minutes. Shels keeper Courtney Maguire attempted to clear the ball under pressure from Gibson but succeeded only in driving the ball off Roisin Molloy and back into the Shelbourne goal.

The remaining twenty minutes were played at a hectic pace with passions close to boiling point. There were yellow cards for a trio of Shels personnel, including manager Noel King, and while they had their chances it was Athlone who looked the most likely to pinch a late winner.

But five minutes of added time failed to decide the game and the biggest crowd at this ground for ten years were treated to the drama of a penalty shootout.

Athlone went first with Gibson somewhat fortunate to see her effort find the net. The next five kicks were all excellently dispatched but Athlone sub Kellie Brennan was the first to stumble when Maguire got down to push away her penalty.

Noelle Murray scored for the Reds to pile the pressure on Athlone’s fifth take, Kate Slevin, she dispatched her effort with aplomb meaning Ruvimbo Mucherera could win it for Shels. She hit her spotter low and hard to the left but Glackin pulled off a magnificent save to bring up sudden death.

Muireann Devaney scored for Athlone and Christie Gray stepped up for Shelbourne knowing she had to score to keep her team in it. She didn’t. Instead Glackin pulled off her second save of the shootout to win her side their first piece of senior silverware.

Athlone Town: Nyla Peterkin (Ciara Glackin 46); Julia Weithofer, Nausica Costantini, Kayleigh Shine, Shauna Brennan; Laurie Ryan; Roisin Molloy (Kellie Brennan 83), Scarlett Herron (Kate Slevin 46), Muireann Devaney, Maddison Gibson; Chloe Singleton.

Subs Not Used: Eve Conheady, Hazel Donegan, Grace Gleeson, Antea Guvo, Kelsey Munroe.

Booked: None.

Shelbourne: Courtney Maguire; Maggie Pierce, Pearl Slattery, Jess Stapleton, Keeva Keenan; Siobhan Killeen (Kerri Letmon 61), Alex Kavanagh, Rachel Graham (Nadine Clare 61), Megan Smyth-Lynch (Ruvimbo Mucherera 71); Jemma Quinn (Christie Gray 70), Noelle Murray.

Subs Not Used: Kayla Hamric, Leah Riley, Jenaya Robertson, Sophie Watters, Taylor White.

Booked: Keeva Keenan (66), Ruvimbo Mucherera (87), Noelle Murray (90+4).

Referee: Louise Thompson

Attendance: 1,423

Extratime Player of the Match: Muireann Devaney (Athlone Town)