United set up mouthwatering semi in solid win over Shels

Galway United qualified for the Semi-Finals of the Avenir Sports All-Island Cup on a historic Saturday in Eamonn Deacy Park, with a thrilling 2-0 win over Shelbourne.

The presence of World Cup-bound Irish internationals and Galway’s own Niamh Fahey and Heather Payne made the occasion all the more special as a new generation of Galway girls gleamed in the presence of their heroes.

There were heroes smattered all over the pitch too as United built on the early promise of the season to set up a mouthwatering final four clash away to Wexford Youths this Saturday in Ferrycarrig Park (Kick-Off 4pm ).

United welcomed Jessica Berlin, Aoibheann Costello and Eve Dossen back into the fold to shore up their rearguard against a potent Shels attack that had already put four past Athlone in the competition.

‘Keeper Berlin had her first taste of the action when she kept the visitors out after a goalmouth scramble from a corner in the 11th minute. At the other end, the dynamic duo of Gemma McGuinness and Jenna Slattery led the charge for United as they have done all season.

McGuinness shot just wide before the half-hour mark after good build-up play. Slattery’s set-pieces carried their usual threat and moments later her delivery briefly threatened to break the deadlock.

United’s opener came at an ideal time, just before half-time. Therese Kinneavy found Kate Thompson with a calm clearance from the back. Thompson dinked the ball through to playmaker Lynsey McKey. She slid in the tireless Abbie Callanan who negotiated a tight angle to blast over the Shels keeper at the near post for a stunning go-ahead goal.

As intricate as the first was, the second to seal it was a route one effort. Berlin booted the ball long in added time. It bounced into the path of Gemma McGuinness. She controlled with her knee and poked the ball across the goal for it to nestle in the bottom corner of the Shels net.

United have little time to savour the famous victory as they face a long trip to the south-east to face a formidable Wexford side. They are unlikely to be daunted by the occasion. They only lost narrowly 1-0 in the return fixture on the opening day. Moreover, United sit five points above Wexford in the Premier Division Table standings.

Nevertheless, Wexford have rediscovered some form in this novel competition and have qualified for this game by topping a group that contained Shamrock Rovers and Peamount United, beating the league’s top two sides in the process.

Irish international Rianna Jarrett is on fire, with three goals in as many games in the competition. She is ably assisted by the likes of Ciara Rossiter and Aoibheann Clancy who have also been capped at senior level for Ireland. Exciting youngster Ellen Molloy remains sidelined through injury.

For their part, United will be full of confidence with their squad bolstered by the return of those with exam commitments in June. They will be aware that with Cork City and Cliftonville in the other semi-final, this competition is wide open.


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