Win is a must for United women to advance in cup

Galway United Women have a huge opportunity to progress in the inaugural Avenir Sports All-Island Cup when they entertain Shelbourne in Eamonn Deacy Park on Saturday (5pm ).

With United and Shels sitting joint top of Group A in advance of the tie, the permutations are simple. United need to win to progress to the semi-final owing to Shelbourne's superior goal difference.

Both sides come into the game on the back of draws last Saturday. United turned in a performance full of quality, but were ultimately held to a 0-0 draw when they entertained Athlone Town in windy conditions in Eamonn Deacy Park.

United started on the front foot when Abbie Callanan was flagged offside in the opening seconds after some wonderful passing from Jodie Griffin and Lynsey McKey. Callanan was a livewire up front, and she was unlucky to be up-ended moments later after McKey had released her again.

The ever-impressive Gemma McGuinness clipped the crossbar in the 25th minute when she struck an audacious effort from 30 yards in the standout moment of a first half that United dominated.

Perhaps the home side's best chance came just after the turnaround. Jenna Slattery delivered a dangerous free from deep and Griffin ghosted past the Athlone defence, got a foot to it, but could only direct it wide.

There was further set-piece drama five minutes later when an in-swinging corner from McKey was well met by Beletic whose header came agonisingly back off the bar. When another Slattery free threatened carnage, it could not be steered home, and there was a sense it was not meant to be for Phil Trill's side. This feeling was further underscored when Jodie Griffin tried a delicate chip that sailed just over, having found an inordinate amount of space in the opposition box.

After all their positive attacking play, United were nearly undone by a lapse in defence on the hour mark.

Kellie Brennan picked Jamie Erickson's pocket and stole through on goal. Abbiegayle Ronayne made an instinctive save with her feet to keep the score at 0-0.

There was still some time for controversy when impact sub Rola Olusola was bundled over in the box for what seemed to be a certain penalty. A flag was raised for offside in the build-up to negate the penalty shout - a call which did not seem to stand up against the scrutiny of the post-match replay.

Despite this disappointment, United will be buoyed by two fine performances in the competition to date. They will be keen to test themselves against a Shelbourne side they famously turned over with 10 players in Tolka Park earlier in the season. Another big occasion beckons for this young team.


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