Wexford Youths win Women's National League after historic play-off

Wexford Youths WFC 2 Shelbourne Ladies 1

Wexford Youths WFC won the 2015/16 Continental Tyres Women's National League title following a 2-1 victory over Shelbourne Ladies at Tallaght Stadium on Sunday.

In what was a first for the League, this play-off was required to divide two highly competitive teams who had previously won the other trophies on offer this season in the WNL Shield, WNL Cup, and WFAI Cup.

Wexford Youths WFC players celebrate at the end of the Continental Tyres Women's National League Replay at Tallaght Stadium. Photo by David Maher/Sportsfile
Wexford Youths WFC players celebrate at the end of the Continental Tyres Women's National League Replay at Tallaght Stadium. Photo by David Maher/Sportsfile

The final game of the regular season saw Shelbourne come out on top and they took the lead in this fixture through captain Pearl Slattery, who nodded in a free-kick from Keeva Keenan.

Wexford were dealt a second blow soon after that when defender Jessica Gleeson limped off injured, so manager Will Doyle was forced to shuffle his pack and introduce Becky Cassin.

Similar to their previous meetings this season, the game was played at a high intensity and acted as a fantastic showcase for women's domestic football in terms of skill and passion.

The teams were back on level terms on 42 minutes when Claire O'Riordan notched in a header from close range following good work on the right flank by Linda Douglas.

The crowd of 710 spectators were treated to a spectacle in the second half as both teams refused to give the other an inch. The result was a period of drama-filled football that kept everyone on edge.

Wexford eventually got out in front on 70 minutes when O'Riordan was in the right place to capitalise on a slip by Niamh Walsh to race through and slot the ball into the back of the net.

Shels almost forced the game into extra-time in the final minute but Walsh's header was superbly saved by goalkeeper Tamara Furlong. Shels then had Keeva Keenan sent off for two yellow cards.

Yet even with Shels throwing everything at them, Wexford were able to hang on to successfully defend their WNL title and end the campaign as triple winners following their successes in the WFAI Cup and WNL Shield.

Shelbourne Ladies: McQuillan; Keenan, Slattery, Walsh, Timoney (Watters h-t); Graham, Murray; Killeen, Creagh (Kavanagh 65), Beirne; Kiernan.

Wexford Youths WFC: Furlong; Sinnott, Gleeson (Cassin 36), Dwyer, Conlon; Douglas (Walsh 90), Fahy, Murphy, Frawley; Hansberry; O'Riordan (Webb 90).

Referee: Alan Carey.

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