Holders earn point
Woemn share the spoils as league starts
Aoibhin Webb came up with the perfect opening goal which eventually sealed a point for injury-ravaged Wexford Youths against an experienced UCD Waves in their opening game in defence of their Continental Tyres Women's National League title at rainswept Ferrycarrig Park on Saturday.
Wexford Youths 1 UCD Waves 1
The Youths women, short a number of key players which will severely test their strength in depth this season, were further hampered by injuries to Orlath Conlon and key midfielder Kylie Murphy during different periods of this game, but in the end their battling performance saw them gain a well-deserved point.
The medial ligament injury to Conlon, received early in the opening half, will keep her sidelined for several weeks, but it is hoped that the ankle knock that formidable midfielder Murphy received late on is not too serious. An enforced absence would see her as a huge loss with important games over the coming weeks, particularly with the Champions League clashes from August 23 to 28.
During the opening 20 minutes Gary Hunt's women took the game to their highly-rated visitors. There was enough during this opening spell to suggest they were capable of collecting the three points, as Lauren Dwyer and Nicola Sinnott were excelling at the back, while Kylie Murphy and Becky Cassin were winning the midfield duel. Up front Claire O'Riordan was her usual energetic self, while Amy Walsh was getting in the runs and crosses from the left flank.
The opening ten minutes were controlled by the Youths with O'Riordan having a couple of attempts blocked, while Aoibhin Webb and Amy Walsh saw a couple of attempts flash just wide.
UCD Waves were beginning to come more into the game and one could see why the home back four were paying so much attention to their impressive front player, Aine O'Gorman. On a couple of occasions they succeeded in crowding O'Gorman out in front of goal before the Youths had their first clearcut chance after 13 minutes.
Aoibhin Webb made progress down the right and pulled over a great cross to the far post, but Amy Walsh saw her left-footed shot fly wide when she should have at least kept the ball on target.
Six minutes later Claire O'Riordan shook off her marker and delivered a tremendous shot from the edge of the area across the goal and just outside the right-hand post, while at the opposite end home 'keeper Tamara Furlong had to be alert to safely handle a Susan Hackett shot.
The Youths continued to press forward with O'Riordan seeing a 23rd-minute effort go just over the top, but the breakthrough they deserved arrived in the 25th minute following some fine attacking football.
Amy Walsh made progress down the left before picking out Claire O'Riordan. The centre-forward showed an excellent first touch but her attempt on goal was excellently pushed to the right by Monica McGuirk. However, the ever-alert Webb pounced on the loose ball and somehow managed to squeeze her shot between the 'keeper and the left post to find the net and give her side a 1-0 lead.
Both sides continued to play fine attacking football, but the visitors got back level ten minutes later. Julie Ann Russell found space down the left flank and her hard, low cross was superbly turned into the corner of the net by the excellent O'Gorman.
Then just on the break, Furlong dropped another O'Gorman cross but Lauren Dwyer managed to clear the ball to safety, leaving it 1-1 at the interval.
Conditions deteriorated even further, making it difficult for both sides. UCD Waves began to win more possession as the half progressed but the excellent Dwyer and Murphy were keeping the Youths composed against their quick attacking opponents.
With 'keeper Furlong capably dealing with a couple of long-range efforts, the Youths soon began to build some attacks of their own. After 54 minutes, O'Riordan headed on an Amy Walsh corner kick but Becky Cassin pulled her shot just wide.
For UCD waves the impressive O'Gorman tested Furlong on a couple of occasions, but the Youths continued to battle to salvage a point at least.
In the closing 15 minutes neither side managed to create a clearcut chance, but with Kylie Murphy forced out of the game ten minutes from the end, the Youths would have been satisfied to have held on for a point.
Wexford Youths: Tamara Furlong, Linda Douglas, Orlaith Conlon, Lauren Dwyer, Nicola Sinnott, Emma Hansberry, Kylie Murphy, Becky Cassin, Aoibhin Webb, Amy Walsh, Claire O'Riordan. Subs. - Chelsea Snell for Conlon, inj. (29), Orla Casey for Murphy, inj. (80), also Sinéad Gaynor, Aoife Prendergast, Leanne Tumelty, Rachel Hutchinson.
UCD Waves: Monica McGuirk, Emily Cahill, Jetta Berrill, Niamh Prior, Julie Ann Russell, Dearbhaile Beirne, Sylvia Gee, Karen Duggan, Orlagh Nolan, Aine O'Gorman. Subs. - Eleanor Ryan-Doyle for Berrill (88), also Niamh Chemaou, Jennifer Cosgrave, Rebekah Carroll, Erica Turner.
Referee: Michelle O'Neill.