Women’s LOI Premier Division preview: Peamount seek to maintain winning start against Shelbourne

Erin McLaughlin of Peamount United, left, celebrates with teammates after scoring her side's second goal during the SSE Airtricity Women's Premier Division match between Athlone Town recently

Seán O'Connor

Peamount United will look to extend their perfect start to 2023 against back-to-back champions Shelbourne this evening, in the final round of Women’s Premier Division fixtures before the international break.

Questions surrounded the Newcastle club before the league got underway, after losing key strike pair Stephanie Zambra and Áine O’Gorman to newcomers Shamrock Rovers.

But Peas have begun flawlessly, with four wins from four ahead of tonight’s clash with the Reds.

Captain Karen Duggan netted in their opening day win over last year’s runners-up Athlone Town, before wins over DLR Waves, Sligo Rovers and Bohemians followed, with new signing Kate Mooney registering three goals too.

But this evening’s top of the table clash in Greenogue will be their toughest test yet. Shelbourne have led the way for the past two seasons, as well as winning last year’s Women’s FAI Cup.

Noel King’s side began their three-in-a-row quest with back-to-back wins against Cork City and Bohemians with eight goals scored and zero conceded.

The Hoops held them to a 1-1 draw at Tolka Park earlier this month, before Shels fell to a shock 2-1 defeat at Galway United last Saturday, conceding twice in the space of two minutes.

Their loss was compounded by a bad injury to captain Pearl Slattery, who will spend some time on the sidelines, but they will look to bounce back tonight and cut the gap to two points with a win against Peas.

Elsewhere, Shamrock Rovers plan to continue their unbeaten start to the season when they host Wexford Youths to Tallaght Stadium.

The Hoops are back in the league after a nine-year absence and have enjoyed a good start to the campaign.

A 93rd minute Áine O’Gorman secured three points in their opener at Sligo Rovers, before Jaime Thompson shone in their 6-0 rout over Treaty by bagging a 19-minute hat-trick in a Player of the Match display.

Ireland internationals Zambra and Savannah McCarthy remain out injured for Rovers, while Aoife Kelly and Aoibhe Fleming are away in Ireland U-17 duty.

O’Gorman was on target again against Shelbourne as the points were shared in Tolka Park, and will hope to bag her third of the season against a Youths side who have won their opening two games. Their two star signings Emily Corbet and Rianna Jarrett hit their first goals of the year in a 3-1 win over Sligo Rovers.

Tonight is Youths first outing in almost three weeks, after a bye weekend was followed by last weekend’s clash with Cork City being postponed due to poor weather.

"Wexford Youths are a very, very good side that have been together a number of years,” said Hoops boss Collie O’Neill ahead of Wednesday evening’s match.

“I said it in the off season, they'd be my favourites to win the league, particularly when you add in the quality of Emily Corbet and Rianna Jarrett. It means they have a very sharp attack at the end of all the good build up play that they have.

“They've players of quality all the way through from Aoibheann Clancy to Kylie Murphy to Corbet and Jarrett up top. It's important for us that to try and grow the women's team, the quality of football that we play has to be attractive."

Meanwhile, Bohemians will hope to return to winning ways against DLR Waves at Dalymount Park.

A pair of 2-0 defeats to Shelbourne and Peamount came either side of a 1-0 win over Galway United, as AFL star Sarah Rowe bagged her first goal of the season.

Waves come into the game off the back of an encouraging scoreless draw against Athlone Town, and a 3-0 win at home to Cork City, and could leapfrog Bohs with a win.

"We're looking forward to Wednesday night. It's a local derby and local derbies are alway really tight. It will be a tough one and we will take each game as it comes," said Waves manager Graham Kelly.

After losing key players like Jessica Hennessy and Emily Corbet over the winter, Athlone Town began the season with a 3-1 loss to Peamount, before hitting eight past Treaty, with Maddison Gibson netting a hat-trick.

They host a Galway United side who have won one from their opening three, after an impressive home victory over the champions with Jenna Slattery and Aoife Thompson on target.

In the final fixture before the league breaks for a fortnight, Treaty United host Cork City, buoyed by their win over Sligo Rovers last weekend, their first victory since June 2021 (45 games).

Alban Hysa’s side shipped six goals against the Hoops, and eight to Athlone, but Hannah Saidi’s late strike earned three points at the Showgrounds, while Cork City have lost each of their first three games.

Ireland’s Women’s National Team travel to the USA for a pair of friendlies on Saturday April 8 and Wednesday April 12, as preparations for this summer’s World Cup continue.

Vera Pauw will name her squad for the trip this Friday, with domestic players like O’Gorman and Abbie Larkin in the frame, while the Women’s Premier Division returns on Saturday April 15.

Women’s Premier Division fixtures

Peamount United v Shelbourne, 7.45

Shamrock Rovers v Wexford Youths, 7.45

Bohemians v DLR Waves, 7.45

Athlone Town v Galway United, 7.45

Treaty United v Cork City, 7.45