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Tuesday 12 November 2019

Captain Kylie seals the deal with winner

Soccer, So Hotels FAI Women's Senior Cup Final: Wexford Youths 3 Peamount United 2

The moment of glory as captain fantastic Kylie Murphy - scorer of the cup-winning goal - lifts the trophy
The moment of glory as captain fantastic Kylie Murphy - scorer of the cup-winning goal - lifts the trophy
Rianna Jarrett of Wexford Youths is challenged by Peamount’s Louise Corrigan

Dean Goodison in the Aviva Stadium

It was bound to take something special to turn a run of losses against top teams into victory, and Kylie Murphy's winning goal was just that for Wexford Youths as they claimed the SO Hotels FAI Women's Senior Cup in the Aviva Stadium on Sunday.

Having been pegged back for the second time when Eleanor Ryan-Doyle's speculative effort beat Ciamh Dollard in the 52nd minute, Wexford re-doubled their efforts and were looking to create with Rianna Jarrett spearheading the charge.

The four previous goals had been good strikes, but neither side had scored from a chance that took a chunk of creative genius, or a bit of technical wizardry.

However, that all changed when Edel Kennedy and Lauren Kelly combined on the left side, midway into the Peamount half.

Kildare native Kelly, scorer of the opening two goals, chipped a pass towards Jarrett that did a lot of damage.

With one centre half focused on the Irish international striker and the other with half an eye on Kelly, Wexford had prised opened the door.

And it was opened wide by the run of Murphy. It's the kind of run the midfielder regularly makes, but not one that always opens a chasm in the opposition defence.

Jarrett slipped the perfect little eight-yard pass into her run and the Wexford captain was calmness personified.

It was the beauty of the goal that broke Peamount, as Wexford weren't supposed to out-football the champions.

Yet that's just what they did and, with a belief in their own ability, Youths settled quicker than their opponents and looked to impose themselves.

The big calls in team selection saw a shift at the back where manager Tom Elmes went with Nicola Sinnott and Lauren Dwyer as his centre-halves.

As expected, Lynn Craven was on the right, but he put Orlaith Conlon on the left.

Conlon is a big favourite of the manager but hasn't been able to consistently stay away from costly mistakes as a centre-back.

The Kilkenny native doesn't offer as much offensively as Ciara Rossiter in that position, but Elmes played it safe by slotting 'Rossi' ahead of her on the left wing.

That meant McKenna Davidson, one of Wexford's best performers in the last few months, was on the bench, with Aisling Frawley given the nod on the right wing. All's well that ends well but Youths didn't get much joy down either flank.

Where they did get joy was with Lauren Kelly flying in and around Rianna Jarrett. While Wexford, given the players at their disposal, might have benefited more from a switch to three at the back, this formation tweak has certainly aided their end-of-season form.

Any major switch takes guts and Elmes deserves credit for the move. It makes his side more dangerous in the opponent's half of the field but opens up midfield and has been one of a few contributing factors to the club record 15, and counting, games without a clean sheet.

It couldn't have worked out better here, as just three minutes in Kelly robbed possession high up the field, stepped inside a defender, and caressed a low shot to Niamh Reid-Burke's left to give Wexford the early lead.

In truth, the first 30 minutes were fairly nervy, scrappy even.

Peamount passed the ball a little crisper in the early stages but Wexford looked comfortable except from set-pieces where they were left scrambling a little.

Funnily enough, it felt like Wexford had weathered that early nice Peas football when the equaliser suddenly arrived in the 32nd minute.

Karen Duggen pounced on a breaking ball close to the right edge of the area and sent a powerful shot high off the stretched fingertips of Dollard and into the net.

Peamount had hardly stopped celebrating their equaliser when Ciara Rossiter's ball from the left was blocked only as far as Kylie Murphy.

Her pass was deflected to Kelly and the ace attacker lobbed Reid-Burke to make it 2-1.

The difference between Dollard and Maeve Williams is considerable. Dollard deals well with low fizzing balls, is a quality shot-stopper, and is confident with the ball at her feet.

Williams is better with high balls into the box, has improving footwork, and is better at dealing with shots above her head.

It's a tough call but Dollard got the nod and played to her abilities, and when she wafted at a Megan Smyth-Lynch corner in the 37th minute she was bailed out by a clearance off the line.

She had no chance when Áine O'Gorman stepped inside and curled a shot onto the crossbar two minutes later.

A couple of questionable offside calls on Rianna Jarrett by linesperson Katie Hall, who had a woeful game, had kept the Wexford forward quiet for a while, but she did get away and smashed into the side-netting just before the break.

Wexford were grateful for the slightest of Lynn Craven touches on Lynch's chipped ball that took it off the toe of O'Gorman and into the hands of Dollard just after the break.

However, Peamount did equalise in the 52nd minute when Ryan-Doyle's long-range shot beat the flailing Youths stopper.

Youths almost responded immediately when Jarrett swung a quality ball into the path of Kelly, but the impressive Louise Corrigan nipped it away.

Ryan-Doyle headed over at the other end, but soon Murphy got in to make it 3-2 to Wexford.

While Peamount had two moments, Wexford had the better of the final 20 minutes.

Both came after questionable officiating, as Dollard made a great save from a pinball session in the goalmouth when assistant Hall decided she carried the ball over the endline to give Peamount the corner.

Davidson nipped the ball away from a fumbling Reid-Burke in the 72nd minute but couldn't pick out striker Jarrett at the back post, so the chance was lost.

A ludicrous drop ball was given to the Peamount goalkeeper after she was injured with Jarrett in possession of the ball.

It nearly cost Wexford as they worked the ball up the field, won a free-kick that eventually found its way to Ryan-Doyle - who was offside but not flagged - and she flashed powerfully at an alert Dollard.

Peamount didn't have a sniff in the final few minutes. Jarrett clanked the post with six minutes left but Wexford were able to play out the remaining time and take the cup back to Ferrycarrig for the third time in five years.

Wexford Youths: Ciamh Dollard; Lynn Craven, Lauren Dwyer, Nicola Sinnott, Orlaith Conlon; Edel Kennedy; Aisling Frawley, Kylie Murphy (capt.), Ciara Rossiter; Lauren Kelly, Rianna Jarrett. Subs. - McKenna Davidson for Rossiter (60), Blessing Kingsley for Frawley (85), also Maeve Williams, Aoife Slattery, Vanessa Ogbonna, Becky Cassin, Fiona Ryan.

Peamount United: Niamh Reid-Burke; Lauryn O'Callaghan, Louise Corrigan, Claire Walsh, Dearbhaile Beirne; Karen Duggan, Lucy McCartan; Áine O'Gorman, Niamh Farrelly, Megan Smyth-Lynch; Eleanor Ryan-Doyle. Subs. - Naima Chemaou for McCartan (54), Niamh Barnes for O'Callaghan (68), also Naoisha McAloon, Louise Masterson, Chloe Maloney, Lauren Kealy, Fiona Owens.

Referee: Sarah Dyas (Louth).

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