Team keep their cool as Shelbourne pay penalty
It shouldn't have needed penalties but, in a game where most bounces seemed to go against them, Wexford Youths won't care about how they finally claimed the FAI Continental Tyres Women's Cup in the Aviva Stadium on Sunday.
Wexford Youths 2 Shelbourne 2
The champions were easily the better team over the 110 minutes but couldn't make their chances, and classier play, tell as Shelbourne looked set to nab the title in normal time. Yet, cometh the last seconds of the game, cometh Ciara Rossiter.
The Youths defender was a little surprisingly overlooked for the last Ireland squad, but she showed her class in an uncompromising display at the national stadium, and it was fitting that it was Rossiter who scrambled the ball over the line when her side needed it most.
Again, Youths did all the pressing in the two periods of ten minutes' extra-time and they must surely have thought the win was theirs when Maria Delahunty put them ahead, but the heavy legs told just before the end as Dearbhile Bernie netted to send the game to spot-kicks.
A good start to the shoot-out is half the battle and Wexford got that with a goal from Ruth Fahy and a Tamara Furlong save from Noelle Murray. Rianna Jarrett, Claire O'Riordan and Kylie Murphy all scored, meaning Youths were champions when Shauna Newman cracked the crossbar.
Will Doyle's side set up with the usual three across the back but that adventure didn't tempt Shelbourne out of their shells in the first-half as nerves were slow to be shaken off.
The most dangerous moment for Wexford in the period was brilliantly snuffed out by Nicola Sinnott when she was left isolated on Noelle Murray.
After that scare Youths created three good chances before the interval. Claire O'Riordan poked wide from an Emma Hansberry corner, Ciara Rossiter chipped an effort that Niamh Reid-Burke somehow tipped around the post, and O'Riordan again skipped away from Hansberry's through ball but shot wide left.
While Wexford were creating chances, Mary Rose Kelly fell awkwardly when attempting to catch a left wing corner and was forced off. Her replacement, Tamara Furlong, would go on to have an afternoon to remember.
Carol Breen headed Hansberry's corner into the side-netting after the resumption but Shelbourne took the lead out of nothing when Siobhán Killeen picked up possession on the left edge of the penalty area and curled a shot across Furlong to the far top corner.
The pattern of the game was clearly set thereafter, with Youths dominating and Shelbourne looking to hit on the counter-attack. Breen went down under pressure in the penalty area but it would have been a very soft spot-kick. The attacker should have scored when she shot wide, when slipped in by Hansberry, with 17 minutes remaining.
Rianna Jarrett was introduced to big cheers from the Wexford crowd with just under 15 minutes remaining, and Kylie Murphy went close next for Youths as her header, from another Hansberry delivery, hit the crossbar.
Things looked to be drifting for Wexford when O'Riordan headed over from Maria Delahunty's right-wing cross, and as time ebbed away it was Shelbourne breaking forward who had a few half chances, that predominantly fell to Noelle Murray, to wrap up the cup.
Wexford got one last chance to snag a draw when Jarrett was fouled in the 94th minute.
The contact looked to be made by Lauren Dwyer in the penalty area, but the free-kick proved to be enough as Hansberry's shot was saved by Burke, and Breen forced it back into the area for O'Riordan to hit the crossbar before Rossiter bundled it home.
Buoyed by the late revival, Youths continued to press in extra-time.
O'Riordan's shot from Jarrett's knockdown was deflected over the bar before Hansberry crossed onto the woodwork, Delahunty collected the rebound and centred for Jarrett to head wide at the back post.
In the second period Jarrett brought the best out of Burke with a low, placed strike from the edge of the box. Youths seemed to nab the winner when Hansberry's corner was cleared only as far as Delahunty who returned it with venom to the Shelbourne net.
However, with time expiring Jamie Finn's shot smacked off the crossbar, fell to Rebecca Creagh and her mis-hit shot landed at the feet of Dearbhaile Bernie who fired to the gaping goal to force penalties.
The pressure didn't hamper the Wexford women with all four spot-kicks finding their mark to give Youths the victory and the first FAI Continental Tyres Women's Cup in their short history.
They will now turn their attention towards defending their National League title, and as it happens their next opponents are none other than familiar foes Shelbourne in Morton Stadium on Saturday at 7 p.m.
Wexford Youths: Mary Rose Kelly; Nicola Sinnott, Ruth Fahy, Ciara Rossiter; Linda Douglas, Kylie Murphy (capt.), Edel Kennedy, Emma Hansberry, Aisling Frawley; Claire O'Riordan, Carol Breen. Subs. - Tamara Furlong for Kelly, inj. (32), Maria Delahunty for Douglas (61), Rianna Jarrett for Frawley (75), also Orlaith Conlon, Becky Cassin, Rachel Hutchinson, Jessica Gleeson.
Shelbourne: Niamh Reid-Burke; Keeva Keenan, Niamh Walsh, Pearl Slattery (capt.), Shauna Newman; Siobhán Killeen, Rachel Graham, Jamie Finn, Grace Murray; Rebecca Creagh, Noelle Murray. Subs. - Sarah Rowe for G. Murray (59), Lauren Dwyer for Graham (67), Dearbhile Bernie for Killeen (85), also Amanda McQuillan, Sinéad Taylor, Avril Brierley, Fiona Donnelly.
Referee: Paula Brady.