Tadhg Williams reports from Ferrycarrig Park
In this season’s first repeat of the 2019 FAI Cup final, Wexford Youths came away with all three points thanks a 3-0 victory over Peamount United in Ferrycarrig Park on Saturday night.
Goals from Nicola Sinnott and two from Ellen Molloy gave Youths a hard-fought victory in what was a WNL game for the ages.
From the kick off it was a game of high intensity, with plenty of hard challenges, both teams well-organised and playing high-tempo football.
Winger Molloy had a great shot saved well by Peamount keeper Niamh Reid-Burke in the seventh minute.
She took a difficult ball under control on the edge of the box and attempted to curl it into the bottom left corner, Reid-Burke stretching across to push the ball around the post.
Wexford went ahead from the resulting corner. Aoibheann Clancy, making her first WNL start for Wexford, found the head of an unmarked Sinnott, who buried the ball into the Peamount net.
Wexford doubled their lead just five minutes later. Lauren Kelly battled for the ball well outside the Peamount penalty area and played a teasing through ball into Molloy.
The teenager nicked the ball past Niamh Farrelly and slotted it past Reid-Burke into the net.
Peamount reacted well, maintaining most of the possession in the first half. A couple of chances came almost immediately after.
Deirbhile Beirne skipped down the left side and put a cross in for Áine O’Gorman to nudge over the bar.
The Irish international was involved again on the 18th minute – her cross in from the right was met by Eleanor Ryan Doyle, who headed it straight over the bar.
Lauren Dwyer and Nicola Sinnott remained solid in the Wexford defence, dealing with nearly every cross into the box to keep Wexford two up.
Peamount’s Sadhbh Doyle was at the heart of every Peamount move, linking up well with O’Gorman and McEvoy with some crisp passing and moments of flair.
Wexford began to apply a bit more pressure with Molloy the target, in the hope she could produce a bit more magic, constantly looking for the runs of Kylie Murphy and Aisling Frawley.
But Peamount maintained possession and had an excellent opportunity just after the half hour mark. Karen Duggan fought well for the ball on the edge of the Wexford area.
She managed to get it out wide on the left to Megan Smyth-Lynch, whose cross was glanced marginally wide by Alannah McEvoy.
O’Gorman had an excellent opportunity only two minutes later.
Deirbhile Byrne’s cross was met with a snapshot from O’Gorman, forcing an incredible save from Ciamh Gray between the Wexford posts, showing the agility to tip it over the bar.
Doyle was unlucky five minutes before the half time whistle. She had time and space after taking a cross from O’Gorman but struggled to take the ball under control and put it over the bar.
Lauren Dwyer made a goal-saving challenge in added time AS Smyth-Lynch beat three Wexford players to get into the box.
Just as she was winding up a shot, Dwyer slid in and denied what could have been a crucial goal for Peamount going into half time.
The Peas starting the second half as they ended the first. Ciara Rossiter and Ellen Molloy defended well to stop attacks from either wing in the opening couple of minutes.
The champions’ best chance of the game came four minutes into the second half.
O’Gorman played a delicious ball into Doyle in the Wexford penalty area from the right wing. With plenty of time and space, she rattled the ball off the post.
Five minutes later, Wexford extended their lead once again through Molloy. The Thomastown native had her first effort saved by Reid-Burke.
Undaunted, Molloy very calmly floated the ball over the keeper and the retreating Peamount defence into the top left. It was the 16-year-old’s third goal of the season.
Wexford had a penalty shout soon after as Niamh Reid-Burke escaped after a collision with Murphy. Calls from the Wexford bench seemed not best pleased with the Waterford referee’s decision.
The visitors had a penalty shout of their own on the hour mark. Alannah McEvoy’s cross seemed to deflect off the arm of Lauren Kelly in the Wexford box but Claire Purcell waved play on much to the dismay of the Peamount players and dugout.
Ferrycarrig became much wetter in the final 20 minutes as the rain began to bucket down. The slippery pitch only added to what was already quite a physical game, however Wexford continued to play some very classy football.
Tom Elmes’ decision to move to a 4-2-3-1 meant there were more passing options going forward for Wexford with Murphy and Clancy picking out some pristine passes for the likes of Molloy and Frawley.
Murphy’s versatility throughout the game, moving from deep lying midfield positions to playing up top alongside Frawley, was crucial for Wexford’s game.
Aoibheann Clancy’s strength and passing opened up the Peamount defence at times. Her crossfield ball 14 minutes from time put Lauren Kelly in miles of space 25 yards out.
With Reid-Burke charging out from her goal line, Kelly attempted an audacious lob which floated slightly right of the Peamount goal.
Wexford were on the defensive not long after, throwing everyone behind the ball with 10 minutes to go. Their shape however kept Peamount under pressure.
Beirne floated a ball over the Wexford defence from distance, bouncing off the outside of the post and wide. Gray was well positioned and had it covered.
In search of her first WNL hat-trick, Molloy came close soon after. Rossiter won the ball in the middle of the field and played a strong ball to the feet of Molloy, who cut inside the Peamount defence and curled a shot just wide of the left post.
Speaking to extratime.com after the game Tom Elmes stated his delight with his team: “The girls worked really hard, we were clinical where we needed to be clinical, we defended really well.
“When we were on the ball we were good, I thought we were tidy, we got players forward and we took our chances.
“We can play a number of different shapes when we need to, that’s the good thing about the girls, they’re tuned in. You can see the way they played that system today, it was excellent.”
Peamount manager James O’Callaghan said: “I was disappointed with how we started the game. We were 2-0 down before we knew it. Apart from that our general play was really good.
“We created a lot of chances, we just couldn’t finish. We just can’t start games like that. Against Wexford, when you go behind their game management is very good.”
Peamount United: Niamh Reid-Burke; Deirbhile Byrne (Chloe Moloney 83), Claire Walsh, Niamh Farrelly, Lauryn O’Callaghan; Áine O’Gorman (C), Sadhbh Doyle, Karen Duggan, Eleanor Ryan-Doyle, Megan Smyth-Lynch (Stephanie Roche 59); Alannah McEvoy (Niamh Barnes 66)
Subs not used: Naoisha McAloon (gk), Lauren Kealy, Louise Masterson, Naima Chemaou,
Booked: Eleanor Ryan Doyle (66).
W)exford Youths: Ciamh Gray; Ciara Rossiter, Lauren Dwyer, Nicola Sinnott, Lynn Craven; Lauren Kelly (Orlaith Conlon 77), Edel Kennedy, Aoibheann Clancy, Kylie Murphy (C), Ellen Molloy (Blessing Kingsley 85); Aisling Frawley (Kira Bates-Crosbie 88)
Subs not used: Maeve Williams (gk), Fiona Ryan, Breda Cushen, Vanessa Ogbonna
Booked: Blessing Kingsley (87).
Referee: Claire Purcell.
ExtraTime.ie Player of the Match: Ellen Molloy (Wexford Youths).