Women in second spot
Wexford Youths leapfrogged Shelbourne into second in the Continental Tyres Women's National League table ahead of their meeting tomorrow (Wednesday) with a comfortable win in Castlebar on Saturday.
Wexford Youths 5 Castlebar Celtic 1
Will Doyle's severely depleted side still had way too much class for the Mayo club as Aoibhín Webb netted a hat-trick to keep Youths within touching distance of surprise leaders Galway WFC.
The westerners stunned Shelbourne 3-0 in Morton Stadium at the weekend to stay top of the table, five points ahead of Wexford, who have two games in hand and remain unbeaten.
With Ciara Rossiter nursing a knee injury picked up with W.I.T. during the week, Lauren Dwyer unavailable, Jessica Gleeson still out and Claire O'Riordan missing through suspension, Wexford travelled to Mayo with just 15 players.
Castlebar, keen to avoid a similar fate to their 17-1 drubbing in Ferrycarrig Park in January, set up to contain and kept the game scoreless for a while.
However, when Rachel Hutchinson and Webb linked up well in the area, Youths opened the scoring with the stand-in attacker's first goal.
Under less pressure on the ball than in recent games, Youths settled into their passing and played some tidy football. One of those nice passes came from Kylie Murphy when she dinked through to Edel Kennedy and the combative midfielder made it 2-0.
Great work on the left allowed Linda Douglas to nip in around the penalty spot and fire Wexford 3-0 ahead before Webb controlled a left-wing feed on the edge of the area and stroked a sublime strike into the top corner of the Celtic net.
With her side leading 4-0 at the interval, Webb completed her hat-trick in the second period when she converted a penalty after her shot was adjudged to have been handled in the penalty area.
A mazy run and excellent finish from Rachel Kearns late in the game ended Youths' hopes of a clean sheet, but three points was the important thing to take from the game at this stage of the season.
While the game against Shelbourne tomorrow (Wednesday) is big for Youths, it's make or break for the hosts who will surely be out of contention if they fail to claim the points.
Wexford follow the game in Dublin with a trip to Cork on Sunday, before hosting Shelbourne again in the League Cup final on Wednesday, March 30.
Wexford Youths: Tamara Furlong; Nicola Sinnott, Ruth Fahy, Orlaith Conlon; Amy Walsh, Edel Kennedy, Kylie Murphy (capt.), Emma Hansberry, Linda Douglas; Rachel Hutchinson, Aoibhín Webb. Subs. - Becky Cassin for Murphy, Meghan Whitty for Hansberry, Aisling Frawley for Walsh, also Jessica Gleeson.