Women’s LOI Premier Division: Shamrock Rovers stay unbeaten with win over Wexford Youths

Shamrock Rovers 2 Wexford Youths 1

Jessica Hennessy of Shamrock Rovers in action against Rianna Jarrett of Wexford Youths during the SSE Airtricity Women's Premier Division match at Tallaght Stadium in Dublin. Photo by Stephen McCarthy/Sportsfile

Seán O'Connor

Shamrock Rovers continued their unbeaten start to their Women’s LOI Premier Division season after a strong display against four-time winners Wexford Youths.

Jessica Gargan and Aine O’Gorman were on target either side of Meabh Russell’s astonishing leveller, as the Women’s Premier Division newcomers made it back-to-back wins at Tallaght Stadium in the final match before the international break.

Rovers forward Jamie Thompson produced another excellent shift for Collie O’Neill’s side, while Ireland pair O’Gorman and Abbie Larkin caused the visitors problems in attack too, ahead of international boss Vera Pauw’s squad announcement on Friday for the upcoming double-header against the USA.

The clash was Youths first outing in almost three weeks as a result of an idle weekend and a postponement in Cork, as they suffered their first defeat of the year despite star signing Rianna Jarrett going close on three occasions.

But Rovers defender Jessica Hennessy did a fine job of keeping Ireland international Jarrett quiet, while 2022 Player of the Year Emily Corbet struggled to make an impact, as Stephen Quinn’s side sit six points off the top, albeit with two games in hand.

After holding champions Shelbourne to a draw at Tolka Park, Rovers began the contest stronger, with Thompson trying her luck twice in the opening minutes.

O’Gorman, Larkin and Thompson linked up superbly in the first half, as Youths scrambled to clear several dangerous crosses, while the offside flag denied Gargan a sight of goal.

Youths soon settled as former Bohemians forward Abbie Brophy sent her effort over Amanda Budden’s net.

The hosts had their goalkeeper to thank on 36 minutes, as Jarrett’s shot looked destined for the corner only to be clawed away by Budden, who was one of six players who arrived from Shelbourne over the off-season.

O’Gorman saw her strike well blocked by Youths defender Orlaith Conlon, before Larkin’s shot was well denied too. Larkin then broke through one-on-one with Maeve Williams following Thompson’s tremendous through ball, but her effort was tipped around the post by the Wexford netminder.

The hosts’ bombardment continued, and it felt like it would only be a matter of time before they took the lead.

That breakthrough came with the final action of the half, as Gargan won possession back around the centre circle and found Alannah McEvoy on the right-flank.

McEvoy and Alannah Prizeman played a smart one-two before the forward sent a pinpoint cross into Youths’ six-yard box. Gargan charged forward and unmarked, rose from close range to head in her first of 2023.

Rovers entered the break in front but their lead lasted all of six minutes, as Russell’s attempted cross caught Budden by surprise and astonishingly found the top corner.

If the equaliser was a wake-up call, Rovers certainly answered it as they regained the lead on 65 minutes through an excellent piece of attacking play.

With her back to goal, the ever-present Thompson pulled off a fantastic flick to break the lines and put Larkin in behind. The 17-year-old Ireland forward squared across to O’Gorman who bagged her third of the campaign into an empty.

Youths tried to find a reply, with Budden producing a fine close-range save from Jarrett before Brophy’s dangerous cross from the right-flank failed to find a black shirt, but failed to level.

The Hoops closed out the win comfortably and entered the 17-day break tied second with Shelbourne on ten points, two points off leaders Peamount United.

It’s still early days, but Rovers’ return is going to plan so far.

Shamrock Rovers: Budden, Gargan, Hennessy, Tuthill, O’Leary; O’Mahony, Prizeman (O’Kane 71); McEvoy (Kelly 77), Larkin, O’Gorman; Thompson (Coady 88).

Wexford Youths: Williams; Russell, Sinnott, Conlon; Brophy, Murphy, Clancy, Rossiter; Corbet (Walsh 80), Lawrence (Kennedy 60), Jarrett.

Referee: Chris Sheehan.

Women’s Premier Division results

Shamrock Rovers 2-1 Wexford Youths

Peamount United 1-4 Shelbourne

Bohemians 3-0 DLR Waves

Athlone Town 1-2 Galway United

Treaty United 1-1 Cork City