Five-star revenge as Shelbourne beat Wexford Youths in Women’s FAI Cup final

Shelbourne 5 Wexford Youths 0
A lethal fusion of revenge and youthful exuberance combined yesterday to deliver a resounding FAI Women’s Cup final victory for Shelbourne against their familiar foes.

Teenager Leanne Kiernan wasn’t part of the Shels squad beaten by Wexford Youths last year at Lansdowne Road but her hat-trick on the same stage was the magical element of the rematch.

American-born striker Gloria Douglas, who scored the fourth the goal, was another one of the few players not involved 12 months ago.

Still, stalwarts such as Rachel Graham, Noelle Murray and captain Pearl Slattery were all determined to put that shock to bed by reasserting the league leaders as the undisputed dominant force of women’s football.

Murray has a deep and mixed history with the national cup, from being sent-off in her first final nine years ago to winning a three-in-a-row of trophies for Raheny United, the club which merged to become Shelbourne last year.

When she squandered a 16th-minute penalty with the game scoreless, the most recent entry to her storybook of deciders looked grim but she soon compensated by volleying in the opener.

Kiernan, the 17-year-old Irish youth international, underlined their superiority by burying a brace before half-time and completed her hat-trick 12 minutes from the end after Douglas had bagged the fourth.

“Our older players definitely wanted to exorcise last year’s defeat because we really threw that game away,” admitted Mark Leavy, assistant to Casey McQuillan last season and now in charge of the Reds.

Wexford can justifiably cite a number of absentees through long-term injuries for their failure to replicate last year’s treble success and, apart from a couple of fleeting moments, they were second best by a country mile on their return to Dublin 4.

Although Sophie Lenehan saved Murray’s weak penalty, the Wexford goalkeeper was lost in dealing with the 31st minute from a deep free-kick which resulted in the same Shels player hooking the loose ball beyond her.

Kiernan’s pace unhinged Wexford’s defence twice before the break, firstly by drifting in from the right-wing onto a through-ball by Douglas three minutes later to skip past Lenehan and tap home.

A similar move in first-half stoppage-time, with Murray providing the pass, allowed the youngster ghost in and stroke the ball in from 10 yards.

Douglas was rewarded for her display with a 64th-minute goal from a header which bizarrely dropped down over the line after smacking off the crossbar and spinning up into the air.

Kiernan also scored via the crossbar, the underside part, in converting a penalty after Jessica Gleeson had fouled Siobhan Killeen inside the box.

SHELBOURNE: McQuillan; Graham (Craven 81), Cooke, N Walsh, Higgins; Slattery, Kavanagh; Killeen (Donnelly 84), Murray, Kiernan (Watters 84); G Douglas.

WEXFORD YOUTHS: Lenehan; Sinnott, Conlon, Gleeson, A Walsh (Hutchinson 68); Hansberry, Delahunty (Snell 85); L Douglas, Webb, Frawley; O’Riordan.

Referee: Deirdre Nolan.


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