Peas pounce with late goal
Bitter end on freezing night
Wexford Youths had to endure a bitter ending on a freezing evening in Ferrycarrig Park on Wednesday as a late Sarah McKevitt strike decided a topsy-turvy Continental Tyres Women's National League tie in Peamount United's favour.
Wexford Youths 3 Peamont United 4
The winner came six minutes after Emma Hansberry had warmed up an evening enveloped in icy breath as she produced a stunning free-kick to make it 3-3.
Going into the game the visitors still harboured slight hopes of forcing a play-off for the title, but Shelbourne put paid to any such notions by beating UCD Waves 3-1, clinching the silverware with a game to spare.
Wexford Youths may have surrendered their league crown this season but they were not too far off the pace and Wednesday's game was another contest where small margins made a world of difference.
After falling behind to an Amber Barrett goal with 15 minutes on the clock, Wexford fought back to lead 2-1 thanks to an Aoibhín Webb double, and in the 26th minute they thought they had added a third, only to see it ruled out for a marginal offside call.
Within a minute the visitors were back on level terms, with the excellent Barrett again providing the finish to swing the pendulum back in Peamount's favour.
On a night when most would have had their feet up in front of the fire, Wexford Youths began the game with a real fire in their bellies and went close to getting off the mark inside three minutes.
When trying to clear the danger, Peamount defender Lauryn O'Callaghan unwittingly headed the ball into the path of Claire O'Riordan and, although the striker couldn't sort out her feet quickly enough to get a shot way, she had the presence of mind to pick out Aoibhín Webb, who saw her rising drive drift inches wide.
Emma Hansberry then got a sighter in, firing a long-range free-kick narrowly off target in the seventh minute, and moments later Peamount gave notice of their attacking intent when Amber Barrett raced clear, but her shot was straight at Wexford Youths goalkeeper Sophie Lenehan.
Barrett was more clinical in the 16th minute, prodding the ball to the back of the net after it had ricocheted into her path following a Heather Payne corner.
Wexford's response was admirable though and four minutes later they were back on level terms. Claire O'Riordan wrested possession from a dithering Peamount defence, picked out strike partner Aoibhín Webb and she did the rest, curling a brilliant shot just inside the right-hand post from the edge of the area.
Youths were ahead on 23 minutes, with O'Riordan again providing the assist and Webb the finish. O'Riordan's shot squirmed through the gloves of goalkeeper Naoisha McAloon and Webb had the simple task of slotting the ball home from a yard out.
Two minutes later arms were aloft in celebration again when Amy Walsh steered the ball to the net, but the jigs of joy were quickly halted when the players spotted that the offside flag had been raised.
To rub salt in the wounds, Peamount went straight up the other end and bagged the equaliser, with Amber Barrett looping the ball over netminder Sophie Lenehan from outside the area.
The chances just kept coming in a high-octane encounter, with Peamount's Roma McLoughlin shooting over, and then Claire O'Riordan was thwarted by goalkeeper McAloon as she bore down on goal.
In the 40th minute Amber Barrett had a chance to complete a first-half hat-trick when she was played in by Tiegan Ruddy but her chipped effort drifted harmlessly wide, while at the other end Linda Douglas fired a decent opportunity the wrong side of the upright.
Wexford were caught cold after the turnaround, with Peamount poking their noses in front a little over a minute after the re-start and again the influential Amber Barrett was involved.
This time she turned provider, delivering a cross to the back post, with the inrushing Heather Payne side-footing a composed finish to the net.
Barrett, who continually tested the Wexford defence, twice went close to adding to her tally midway through the half, first shooting straight at Sophie Lenehan from inside the area and then seeing the goalkeeper superbly pounce to her right to tip her effort out for a corner.
Wexford Youths weathered the storm though and they looked to have secured a point thanks to a moment of magic from Emma Hansberry as she curled in a stunning 35-yard free-kick in the 83rd minute.
However, there was one last sting in the tail when Amber Barrett raced forward and unselfishly squared the ball to Sarah McKevitt, who applied the easy finish.
Wexford Youths: Sophie Lenehan, Nicola Sinnott, Jess Gleeson, Orlaith Conlon, Chelsee Snell, Linda Douglas, Kylie Murphy, Emma Hansberry, Amy Walsh, Aoibhín Webb, Claire O'Riordan. Subs. - Aisling Frawley for Walsh (70), Sinéad Gaynor for Snell (83), also Shauna Wall, Aoife Prendergast, Leanne Tumelty, Clare Conlon, Tamara Furlong.
Peamount United: Naoisha McAloon, Lauryn O'Callaghan, Rachel Doyle, Niamh Farrelly, Niamh Barnes, Sarah McKevitt, Tiegen Ruddy, Roma McLaughlin, Claire Kinsella, Heather Payne, Amber Barrett. Subs. - Louise Corrigan for Barnes (52), Emma Byrne for Kinsella (69), Lauren Kelly for Payne (80), also Megan Lynch, Vanessa Hulton, Lucy McCartan, Trish Fennelly.
Referee: Brian Fenlon.