Peamount United retained their Women’s National League title in dramatic fashion as they came from behind to beat Shelbourne 3-1 in a winner-takes-all game at PRL Park on Saturday night.
A late brace from captain Áine O’Goman and one from midfielder Karen Duggan turned the tie on its head after Emily Whelan had fired Shels in front early in the second half.
A draw would have been enough for the defending champions to keep their destiny in their hands but the victory means next week’s trip to Wexford will be a coronation.
It was rough justice on a Shelbourne side who had come to score goals and had threatened numerous time before opening the scoring.
Whelan could have had two during a frantic first half and was only denied by the quick thinking of Ireland goalkeeper Niamh Reid-Burke. The stopper had to be alert after six minutes when Whelan was played through one-one-one, narrowing the angle for the shot and batting the ball to safety.
Izzy Atkinson saw a free kick from 20 yards easily saved by Reid-Burke before the Peas managed their first real chance on the half-hour. There was a scramble in the box as O’Gorman’s corner landed within a group of bodies but neither Eleanor Ryan Doyle nor Niamh Farrelly could steer it goalward. Whelan had another great chance to open the scoring on the stroke of half time as she once again went one-on-one but this time Reid-Burke managed to snatch the ball from her feet.
The Shelbourne star would get her goal within seconds of the resumption, however, the striker peeling inside Claire Walsh and shooting high above the outstretched arm of Reid-Burke.
Shels had chances to extend their lead, Ciara Grant hitting the side netting before O’Gorman made a goal-saving tackle to deny Rebecca Cooke. As Peamount pushed on, Shels fell back and they were pegged back when Duggan was caught late on the edge of the box, and O’Gorman planted the free kick in the corner.
There was only one winner from there, and Duggan headed home O’Gorman’s corner minutes later as the champions showed their ruthless streak. Reid-Burke came out the better of another goalmouth scramble to keep the Peas in front, and O’Gorman made sure of it from close range in the dying moments.
Niamh Reid-Burke; Lauryn O'Callaghan, Claire Walsh, Deirbhaile Beirne; Karen Duggan, Lucy McCartan (Sadbh Doyle 65), Eleanor Ryan Doyle; Áine O'Gorman, Alannah McEvoy (Becky Watkins 87), Stephanie Roche (Megan Smyth-Lynch 65).
Rachel Kelly; Jess Gleeson (Alex Kavanagh 78), Pearl Slattery, Jamie Finn; Jess Gargan, Rachel Graham (Kate Mooney 85), Ciara Grant, Izzy Atkinson; Jessica Ziu, Rebecca Cooke, Emily Whelan.