Shelbourne booked their place in the FAI Women’s Cup final courtesy of a wondergoal from Noelle Murray in a hard fought 1-0 at Tolka Park on Saturday afternoon.
Murray’s cunning skill was enough to seal Shels’ victory as Galway were reduced to ten players for much of the second half.
The opening stages of the game were mostly contested in the middle third of pitch as both sides attempted to get to grips with each other in the early minutes.
Shels eventually took control of proceedings but could not fashion any clear-cut chances, coming closest through an acrobatic effort from by Pearl Slattery from a corner.
The Reds continued to fire warning shots, this time through Rachel Graham from long range but both defences continued to win their battles until a moment of pure magic from Noelle Murray gave Shels the lead on the half hour mark.
Murray took down a bouncing ball on the edge of the box flicking it over the heads of two Galway defenders and smashing the ball home after an act of jaw-dropping skill.
The game settled back down after Murray’s wonder strike, and it was all that separated the teams at the break.
The second half got off to a slow start just as the first had, and it was almost Murray who produced the first bit of quality once again as she got on the end of a cross from Ciara Grant but a last- ditch block deflected her effort wide of the post just before the hour mark.
Galway were dealt a hammer-blow shortly after following a bizarre few minutes from Julie Ann Russell.
The Galway midfielder received a yellow card for simulation in the Shels box and was shown a second five minutes later after blocking a kick from Shels keeper Amanda Budden leaving Galway a player down after two completely needless yellow cards.
Instead of letting their heads drop after Russell’s dismissal, the Tribeswomen’s play improved as they tested Budden for the first time with ten minutes to go.
The Shels keeper, who’d been mostly a spectator, was forced to tip a half volley from Emma Starr over the crossbar, while substitute Kate Slevin saw her effort headed over the bar by a Shels defender from the resulting corner.
The Reds rode out this final Galway offensive and almost wrapped up the game as Saoirse Noonan squandered a golden opportunity, only producing a weak shot into the body of Leah Hayes Coen.
She was not made to rue this miss however, as Shels coasted to the final whistle and secured their place in this year’s cup final, meaning a league and cup double is still a possibility for Noel King’s side.
Galway showed good character to persevere after going a player down but could not match the quality of Shels, with Murray’s stunner well worth the win.
Shelbourne FC: Amanda Budden; Shauna Fox, Jessica Gargan, Chloe Mustaki, Pearl Slattery, Jessie Stapleton; Rachel Graham, Ciara Grant, Alex Kavanagh (Jessica Ziu 69); Noelle Murray, Saoirse Noonan.
Subs not used: Sophie Lenehan, Mia Dodd, Leah F Doyle, Keeva Keenan, Taylor White.
Booked: Alex Kavanagh (32), Ciara Grant (90).
Sent off: None.
Galway WFC: Leah Hayes Cohen; Becky Walsh, Therese Kinnevey (Aoibheann Costello 85), Meabh de Burca, Shauna Brennan; Emma Starr, Chloe Singleton (Nicole McNamara 78), Julie-Ann Russell, Savannah McCarthy; Aoife Thompson (Kate Slevin 60), Lynsey McKey.
Subs not used: Hannah Walsh, Karen Connolly, Sinead Donovan, Elle O'Flaherty, Saoirse Healy, Abbie Callanan.
Booked: Therese Kinnevey (21) ,Julie-Ann Russell (62) ,Julie-Ann Russell (67) ,Savannah McCarthy (70) Meabh de Burca (75).
Sent off: Julie-Ann Russell (67).
Referee: David Keeler
extratime.com Player of the Match: Noelle Murray