Galway United women shock champions Shelbourne

Galway United women recorded the biggest win in their fledgling history against champions Shelbourne in a sunny Tolka Park on Saturday.

The 2-1 victory was an outcome few had predicted given the sides' respective starts to the season. Champions League-bound Shels had enjoyed an unbeaten start, while United had played in three 1-0 games, but had come out on the wrong side of two of them.

The outcome looked even less likely when United fell behind to an early Jessie Stapleton goal. The Irish international rose highest to power home an Alex Kavanagh corner in the third minute. It seemed United were in for a long afternoon.

Jemma Quinn, who took the place of the impressive Kayla Hamric, then hit the post minutes later. The flag also saved United in the first quarter when Pearl Slattery was judged to be offside after she had headed home.

Having endured a difficult start, Phil Trill’s side settled thereafter, and Jenna Slattery nearly equalised with a trademark free-kick that rose just over.

She went close again before half-time, pulling a fantastic save from keeper Courtney Maguire, and the improvement continued after the break when striker Aoife Thompson, replacing Anna Fahey in the starting XI, got her side on terms in the 57th minute.

The goal was a fine team effort. Eve Dossen made a telling interception at the back and quickly found Lynsey McKey in space. McKey went long and found Gemma McGuinness, who poked forward to an umarked Thompson and she coolly rounded Maguire before tapping home.

Amazingly, United were ahead 90 seconds later. Having gone close again with a free-kick before half-time, Slattery would not be denied a third time. She curled a superb placed ball over the wall from 25 yards-out. It nestled in the bottom corner of the net to send her side 2-1 up.

It was a lead they would not relinquish, despite going down to 10 after the controversial dismissal of McGuinness. Having shown plenty of class on the ball in the opening 70 minutes, United showed character to withstand a late Shels' onslaught.

Goalkeeper Jessica Berlin, in her first start of the season, made two big saves as the clock wore down. Subs Kerri Letmon and Sophie Watters coming close for the hosts. Berlin was also aided again by the woodwork, which thwarted the tricky Megan Smyth-Lynch late on.

These slices of luck were earned given the heroics of the young Galway United side. The result and performance will live long in the collective memory. More importantly, it can help to inspire a fine season for the Galway women.

 

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