Fiachra Gallagher reports from Tolka Park
Shelbourne bolstered their claim for the Women’s National League title on Saturday afternoon with a comprehensive 5-0 win at Tolka Park over Galway WFC.
All the talking points arose in the first-half, and Shels had it virtually wrapped up within the first 45 as well: goals from Jessica Gargan, Isibeal Atkinson and Ciara Grant helped the Reds to a three-goal cushion going into the break.
It wasn’t all straightforward, however. Galway had a golden opportunity to put themselves in the driving seat in the second minute of the game. A red shirt collided needlessly with Aoife Thompson in the penalty area, giving the visitors a penalty to start proceedings.
Savannah McCarthy’s strike, however, was tame, and Rachel Kelly was able to stoop to her right-hand corner to keep things level. This would only be the beginning of McCarthy’s – and Galway’s – woes.
Moments after the penalty, Shels were ahead. Directly after play had restarted following a brief injury stoppage, Gargan found herself free when the ball fell for her off a Ciara Grant in-swinger. Gargan found the bottom of the net, and Shels were on their way.
The Reds made it 2-0 courtesy of a stinging Atkinson strike. A slight deflection helped her 18-yard attempt into the bottom corner, but it did not take from the fine technique displayed by the forward.
Shels won this game partly because of their total command of the midfield space. Alex Kavanagh ran proceedings, as the Reds executed a devastating one-touch, give-and-go passing game to undo the Galway defensive effort.
Just before half-time, Emily Whelan was hacked down in the area by McCarthy, opening the door for Shelbourne to effectively end the contest. After a fashion, Grant pounced on a rebounded penalty attempt, landing the decisive proverbial sucker-punch before the half-time whistle.
Galway definitely saw more of the ball in the second period, although it could be argued that Shelbourne’s drop in intensity was the cause of this.
Despite a jump in their possession stats, Galway couldn’t produce the goods – the second half creaked along until Shels put the result beyond doubt in the final ten minutes.
Jessica Ziu got on the scoresheet with a well placed strike that found the net on the 80 minute mark. Galway had given the ball away cheaply in defence, and were again the architects of their own downfall.
Moments later, Shels had their fifth. Atkinson topped off a commendable individual performance by strike low from the penalty spot to leave it at 5-0. Galway had given away a second penalty after an avoidable trip in the area.
Shelbourne saw out the tie as they’d played the match: clinically. Their 5-0 victory gives them much-needed momentum heading into their next test against Peamount in two weeks time.
Shelbourne FC: Rachael Kelly; Jamie Finn, Jessica Gargan (Kate Mooney 72), Jessica Gleeson (Mia Dodd 82), Pearl Slattery; Rachel Graham (Ella O'Connell 87), Ciara Grant, Alex Kavanagh (Rebecca Cooke 72), Jessica Ziu; Emily Whelan.
Subs not used: Rebecca Cooke, Mia Dodd, Courtney Higgins, Kate Mooney, Ella O'Connell, Taylor White.
Galway WFC: Abbiegayle Ronayne; Shauna Brennan, Shauna Fox, Therese Kinnevey (Aoife Lynagh 67); Savannah McCarthy, Lynsey McKey, Ellerose O'Flaherty (Kate Slevin 55), Chloe Singleton, Jamie Turrentine (Aoife Walsh 78); Aoife Thompson.
Subs not used: Rachel Baynes, Amanda Budden, Aoife Lynagh, Tessa Mullins, Kelsey Munroe, Kate Slevin, Aoife Walsh.
Booked: Savannah McCarthy (45)
ExtraTime.ie Player of the Match: Alex Kavanagh
Full Gallery:@shelsfc @GalwayWFC @ExtratimeNews @DublinGazette @FAI_WNL @CTribune @thewnlshow @FAIreland @sportswomenIRL @20x20 @CanonUKandIE #CantSeeItCantBe #WomenInSport #NowSheCanSeeIt #ThinkItAskIt #20x20 https://t.co/QFszbxWfaT pic.twitter.com/R67A8HTpVG— Martin Doherty (@martydot2) November 7, 2020