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Wexford FC 🎥If you head over to Wexford FC TV right now, you can watch highlights from Friday evening's draw with Shelbourne… https://t.co/pjwcLfRby1

It is just over 5 months since the thrilling clash of Wexford Youths Women and Shelbourne ladies in the 2015 FAI Cup Final, and the long awaited re-match did not disappoint on Saturday night. The healthy crowd at Ferrycarrig Park were treated to 6 goal thriller, befitting the two strongest teams in the Women's National League.

 

Shelbourne started the game with a bit more intensity, but the first real chance did go to Wexford Youths. In the first minute Wexford had an excellent passing move through Linda Douglas and Kylie Murphy, giving Claire O'Riordan a chance to put Aisling Frawley through on goal, but the through ball was gathered by Shelbourne's Irish international goalkeeper Niamh Reid-Burke.

 

Shelbourne looked a bit quicker and more decisive around the pitch at the beginning, and this was to pay off in the 11th minute. Shelbourne's Leanne Kiernan made an excellent run up the left wing, and her cross to the near post caused some indecision between Tamara Furlong and Nicola Sinnott. The ball trickled passed both Wexford Youths players and over the line, which was flagged by the linesman to be 1-0 to Shelbourne. In responseWexford Youths did manage to produce a sequence of chances, but neither Claire O'Riordan nor Lauren Dwyer, playing very far forward with O'Riordan, were able to get a clean shot away.

 

Shelbourne's Noelle Murray and Leanne Kiernan had excellent games up front and were a constant threat to the Wexford back line in the first half. Keeva Keenan and Siobhan Killeen worked well together on the left for Shelbourne. Wexford Youths' confidence was to take a further knock on 43 minutes as Shelbourne increased their lead to two. A free kick just inside the Wexford Youths' half produced a glorious cross from Rebecca Creagh, which was headed in by Pearl Slattery for 2-0 to Shelbourne.

 

Wexford Youths clawed back a vital goal just before half, to give them the momentum going into the break. Edel Kennedy made an excellent shot from distance which was parried by Niamh Reid-Burke. Kennedy got a second chance to shoot from the re-bound and had no trouble with the second finish, making the score 2-1 to Shelbourne at half time.

 

Shelbourne maintained the high pressure on Wexford in the second half, although Wexford did appear to have increased confidence as a result of their late goal. Shelbourne were to regain their two goal lead early in the first half. On about the 50 minute mark, Keeva Keenan's cross from the left went just too high for her target Noelle Murray, but Leanne Kiernan was there at the back post to get her second goal and put Shelbourne up to a 3-1 lead over Wexford.

 

Wexford looked immediately to strike back at Shelbourne, and forced a chance immediately from the kick off. A cross from the right found Claire O'Riordan with the shot, forcing an excellent save from Niamh Reid-Burke. O'Riordan's tenacity was to pay dividends just before the hour mark, when she leaped onto a under-hit backpass by Niamh Walsh in the Shelbourne defence. O'Riordan rounded the keeper for an easy finish for 3-2, popping down on one knee and nodding the ball across the line with her head.

 

For the remainder of the game both sides traded chances evenly, both Tamara Furlong and Niamh Reid-Burke being tested regularly. The save of the night came from Tamara Furlong, when a Siobhan Killeen free-kick was placed perfectly into the top left corner, but Furlong was able to stretch for the save.

 

With 15 to go, Wexford forced a series of corners from the Shelbourne defence. A corner from the left went to the near post and wasn't dealt with by Niamh Reid-Burke. Wexford worked hard to keep the ball alive, and it eventually found its way to Claire O'Riordan at the back post, whose finish cancelled out Shelbourne's lead to bring the score to 3-3. Unfortunately there was to be sour note on the night for O'Riordan. She received a yellow card shortly afterwards for kicking the ball away during a Shelbourne free kick, and went on to receive a second yellow from referee Sean Grant for dissent. She sarcastically applauded one of Grant's decisions, to the frustration of the Wexford bench. Wexford were down to 10 players but managed to comfortably see out the game for hard-earned draw with Shelbourne. Final score 3-3.

 

Wexford will be quite happy with to have pulled out a draw from the game. There were excellent performances from Edel Kennedy who dominated the air in the middle of the pitch and Claire O'Riordan who carried Wexford's attack. Shelbourne will be scratching their heads as to how they could lose their two goal lead, and were extremely hard working all over the pitch. Special mention must go to Noelle Murray and Leanne Kiernan who popped up everywhere to threaten the Wexford back line, and Keeva Keenan with a quality all-around performance at full back. An exciting season-long battle between these two teams awaits.

 

Teams:

 

Wexford Youths Women: Tamara Furlong; Ciara Rossiter, Nicola Sinnott, Ruth Fahy, Edel Kennedy; Aisling Frawley, Kylie Murphy, Emma Hansberry, Linda Douglas (Aoibhinn Webb); Lauren Dwyer (Amy Walsh), Claire O'Riordan

 

Subs not used: Shaunna Wall, Orlaith Conlon, Rachel Hutchinson, Meghan Whitty

 

Shelbourne Ladies: Niamh Reid-Burke; Keeva Keenan, Pearl Slattery, Niamh Walsh, Dearbhla Beirne; Siobhan Killeen, Rachel Graham, Rebecca Creagh (Alexandra Kavanagh), Sophie Watters (Fiona Donnelly); Noelle Murray, Leanne Kiernan

 

Author: Ronan McCarthy

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