Monday 19 February 2018

Thorpe thrilled with battling qualities as Raheny retain trophy

Raheny United 3 Castlebar Celtic 2

Raheny United captain Rebecca Creagh lifts the FAI Women’s Cup after her team’s victory over Castlebar Celtic at the Aviva Stadium BRENDAN MORAN/SPORTSFILE
Raheny United captain Rebecca Creagh lifts the FAI Women’s Cup after her team’s victory over Castlebar Celtic at the Aviva Stadium BRENDAN MORAN/SPORTSFILE

John Fallon (After extra-time)

FAI Women's Cup Final

THE drama started early at the Aviva Stadium as Raheny United etched out a second successive Cup crown against a battling Castlebar Celtic side.

On the basis of how the first half developed, the holders seemed to be cruising towards another trophy but the Mayo girls twice pegged back Raheny to force extra-time.

The only negative on an otherwise glistening day for Irish women's football was the winner arriving through an own-goal.

Four minutes into extra-time, Celtic's centre-back Kim Flood suffered the misfortune of diverting a Siobhan Killeen cross past her goalkeeper Caoimhe O'Reilly.

Ahead of what was to come in the men's decider, the women's equivalent produced just as much entertainment.

As expected, favourites Raheny started on fire and could have been three goals up inside the opening half hour.

Noelle Murray was the first to miss a glorious chance when she raided into the box within 30 seconds of kick-off only to miscue her shot from close-range.

Ireland U-19 international Katie McCabe then raced clear to lob the advancing O'Reilly, yet her effort was cleared off the goal-line.

Wasteful with those openings, Donegal midfielder Ciara Grant showed Raheny the way to surge ahead in style by lobbing O'Reilly with a 37th-minute volley.

Castlebar drastically needed a revival and it was engineered by interval substitute Emma Mullin.

The veteran attacker drew the westerners level on 68 minutes by finishing from eight yards following an exquisite run and cross by the impressive Emma Hansberry.

Seven minutes from time, the Dubliners were back in front from the penalty spot. O'Reilly's barge into Caroline Thorpe from a corner earned the spot-kick, from which the experienced Thorpe tucked the ball low into the bottom-left corner.

Back came the Mayo girls again, with another substitute, Deirdre Doherty, rattling the net with an 89th-minute thunderbolt from all of 25 yards.

GALVANISED

Having restored parity for the second time, it was Castlebar who entered extra-time the more galvanised of the finalists.

Then, within four minutes, dazzling winger Killeen embarked on the move that would prove decisive.

For Thorpe, who played at the national stadium nine years ago for UCD, the own-goal failed to diminish a stellar showcase for the women's game.

"This was a brilliant spectacle for women's football," said the veteran. "Castlebar fought us all the way and we knew there wouldn't be much in it. We're just delighted to win this national cup for a second year in a row."

Raheny United – N Reid-Burke; P Slattery, S O'Farrelly (S Newman 90), K Ryan, C Thorpe; R Graham, C Grant, R Creagh, S Killeen; K McCabe (C Shine 69), N Murray.

Castlebar Celtic – C O'Reilly; K Walsh, N Fowley, K Flood (R Kearns 110), A Egan; S Rowe, Y Hedigan (D Doherty 77), R King, A Gilroy; E Hansberry, S McGeogh (E Mullin h-t).

Ref – M Ward

Irish Independent

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