Monday 19 November 2018

Holders Dundalk ladies reach cup semi-final

Shamrock Rovers 0Dundalk City 2Dundalk City ladies traveled to Glasnevin on Thursday and emerged against arch rivals Shamrock Rovers with a precious victory in their 2nd round replay of the Pat Breheny Memorial Premier Cup. Until last season Rovers had won the cup on 6 successive occasions since its inception. Dundalk accounted for St. James’ Gate in last year’s final to take the trophy to Oriel Park for the first time.

Dundalk had a 3–2 victory over Bray Wanderers in the first round and remained deadlocked at 2 all after extra time in their encounter with Rovers last week. This victory advances the Lilywhites to the semi-final stage of the competition where they have a difficult away tie against unbeaten League leaders UCD at Belfield in a fortnight’s time.

Dundalk enter the semi-final as underdogs but on this display they will not relinquish the cup easily and on their day are a match for any team.

Rovers won the toss and decided to play with the advantage of a strong breeze. However, the Lilywhites applied the early pressure and efforts by Claire Mulholland and Sonya Hoey were just wide of the mark.

The tactic of pressing the player in possession was paying dividends for Dundalk and prevented Rovers back four from finding playmaker Irish International Olivia O’Toole with quality ball. The work rate of the Lilywhites two front players Hoey and Riordan inspired their team mates to greater efforts.

Dundalk’s under 17 school girl international Sandra Lynch was again given the task of marking O’Toole and she gave an exhibition in midfield not only curbing her efforts but setting up a number of chances for her team.

Rovers came close on 25 minutes when a free kick by O’Toole beat the defensive wall and was destined for the top right corner but somehow Pepper got a hand to the ball to tip over for the save of the season to keep Dundalk in the game.

Dundalk were pinned in their own half for a period but the defence held out with Aoife Kelly making a number of timely interceptions in an unaccustomed sweeper position.

Dundalk’s best chance of the half fell to Claire Mulholland when she dispossessed central defender Geraldine Lynch and her shot from 25 yards was parried by keeper Fiona Larkin.

Rovers started the second period in determined mood and Pepper denied Geraldine Lynch with a double save after 50 minutes. The defence had a let off on 55 minutes when Nicola O’Neill found Tammy Lane with a through ball but her effort came back off the crossbar with Pepper stranded.

The Lilywhites then came close with efforts from Tara Nevin and Hoey was foiled by the advancing Rovers keeper. Indeed, Hoey had the ball in the net only to be denied by the offside flag.

Dundalk introduced Grace Murray for the tiring Claire Riordan and her introduction had immediate effect when she forced a save from Larkin following a through ball from Jenny Mulligan.

Dundalk were going through a purple patch and Sandra Lynch tested the keeper on the hour following a strong run down the centre. Murray’s pace on the left wing was having an unnerving effect on the Rovers defence as she combined well with Sonya Hoey who was back to her best form in attack.

Dundalk got the breakthrough on 70 minutes when Tara Nevin won possession on the right wing, centred to Hoey whose shot was parried by Larkin only as far as the inrushing Murray who coolly slotted the ball home from 10 yards for a deserved lead.

Claire Mulholland was unlucky on 80 minutes when her shot smacked against the crossbar and Sharon Drumgoole should have put the tie beyond doubt two minutes later when she shot wide with the goal at her mercy after intercepting a short kick out.

With five minutes remaining Sonya Hoey sealed victory when she connected with a perfect pass from the left wing by Murray to steer the ball home from 6 yards to the delight of the visiting contingent for a goal that her efforts on the night richly deserved.

Dundalk City: Janine Pepper [Capt.], Mairead Nixon [Ashley Duffy 75mins.], Jenny Mulligan, Aoife Kelly, Bronagh Malone, Tara Nevin, Claire Riordan [Grace Murray 55mins.], Sharon Drumgoole, Sonya Hoey, Claire Mulholland [Clodagh Mulholland 85mins], Sandra Lynch. Subs, Susan O’Connell, Paula Coyle, Lucy Byatt, Roisin Fearon.