Paul Corcoran reports from Eamonn Deacy Park
Shelbourne extended their run to six wins in a row when they emerged 2-1 winners over Galway in the Women's National League at Eamonn Deacy Park on Saturday afternoon.
Keeva Keenan’s second goal of the season put the visitors in front in the first half with Galway briefly coming back on level terms when Lynsey McKey netted in the second half only for Shelbourne’s Jessica Ziu to score the winning goal in a narrow victory for the title challengers.
It was a big day for Galway’s Hannah Walsh with the teenager making her debut for the club against one of Ireland’s top teams. Emma Starr started the game for Galway with the midfielder returning to the club for the first time since 2019.
Jessica Ziu had chances to put the visitors in front in the opening ten minutes, in the fourth minute she volleyed the ball just over the crossbar after Emily Whelan nodded the ball down at the back post from Noelle Murray’s corner-kick.
The midfielder was on target three minutes later after a great cross from Keeva Keenan into the box, Ziu struck the ball well at close range but goalkeeper Hannah Walsh quickly dived across goal to make a great save on her WNL debut.
Emily Whelan took the ball inside the box on the half hour mark with Keenan taking hold of the ball with her back to goal after the defence failed to clear their lines. She played the ball back to Ciara Grant and the midfielder was denied only by the crossbar from close range.
The Reds took the lead in the 35th minute with a spectacular long range effort from Keenan, her shot just evaded the clutches of Walsh before striking the crossbar and deflecting into the net.
Walsh was called into action again in the 43rd minute after a breakaway by the visitors with Grant collecting the ball in midfield and breaking the tackle of Julie-Ann Russell before sending a through ball to Whelan.
The forward cut inside the box and had a free shot on goal but Walsh stood her ground and deflected the ball away reacting quick enough immediately after the save to get down and smother the free ball.
Early in the second half Keenan was through on goal but Walsh showed great bravery to come off her line and take the ball off the midfielder’s boot with the young goalkeeper having a great debut for the Tribeswomen.
It took until the 66th minute for Galway to register their first clear cut chance with second half substitute Chloe Singleton firing just wide with a snap shot after fellow sub Elle O’Flaherty drilled a low cross into the box.
The home side were on the scoresheet just two minutes later when Julie-Ann Russell played a through ball to Lynsey McKey with the midfielder firing from the edge of the box and finding the top corner of Amanda Budden’s goal to draw the sides level.
Shels responded immediately however with Jessica Ziu netting almost from the baseline after being played in by Emily Whelan on the right side of the goal. Her shot just managed to arc over Walsh and into the net to give the visitors the lead once more.
Méabh De Búrca had one last effort in injury time for the home side but her long range effort was too tame to trouble Amanda Budden as the Reds held on to claim the three points.
Galway WFC: Hannah Walsh; Shauna Brennan, Ruth Fahy (Elle O'Flaherty 64), Therese Kinnevey, Savannah McCarthy; Meabh de Burca, Nicole McNamara (Chloe Singleton 64), Julie-Ann Russell, Emma Starr (Anna Fahey, 80); Lynsey McKey, Aoife Thompson (Becky Walsh 64).
Subs not used: Maja Zajc, Leah Hayes Cohen, Saoirse Healy, Rachel Baynes.
Shelbourne FC: Amanda Budden; Jessica Gargan, Keeva Keenan (Mia Dodd 73), Pearl Slattery, Jessie Stapleton; Jamie Finn, Rachel Graham, Ciara Grant, Jessica Ziu; Noelle Murray, Emily Whelan.
Subs not used: Sophie Lenehan, Chloe Mustaki, Leah F Doyle, Alex Kavanagh, Ella O'Connell, Taylor White, Abbie Larkin.
Booked: Jamie Finn (59) .
Referee: Joe Hession.
extratime.com Player of the Match: Jessica Ziu (Shelbourne)