Wexford claim Women’s League Cup
A strong second half display saw Wexford Youths Women lift their first trophy by overcoming a strong Castlebar Celtic in a wet Ferrycarrig Park today. The damp conditions did not deter almost one thousand people from turning up for this eagerly awaited cup final and although the opening exchanges saw both sides cancel each other out, it was the home side who created the first chance when Rianna Jarrett controlled neatly but saw her shot go over the crossbar.
Jarrett recently returned from a long term injury, has been showing a return to scoring form and was unlucky twenty minutes in when once again she was unable to keep her shot low enough to trouble Rachel King in the Castlebar goal. The visitors created their first serious chance midway through the half when Sarah Rowe broke clear down the right wing but saw her shot flash wide of the post.
As the game opened up and the early match nerves settled, both sides were pushing for the opener with Ashling Frawley firing over for the Youths while Ciara Rossiter also went close. The Mayo side were working very hard to get a grip on the game with Sarah Rowe in particular causing problems and it took a sharp tackle from Nicola Sinnott to deny her from getting a shot away just on the half hour mark with some of the visiting contingent looking for a penalty.
As the game approached half time, both sides had chances to break the deadlock with Kate Walsh linking up well with Rowe but saw her shot saved by Mary Rose Kelly while Nicola Sinnott headed just over the crossbar for Wexford. Aoibheann Webb saw her well struck shot deflected wide for a corner and the game reached half time with neither side finding the net.
Two minutes into the second half, the deadlock was eventually broken when some early pressure from the home side saw them win a corner which was swung in by Maria Delahunty and Jarrett rose highest at the back post to head to the net giving King no chance. Wexford almost got caught napping a minute later when Rowe broke through again and was unlucky not to have the sides level when Jessica Gleeson did well to deflect her shot around the post for a corner. This seemed to spark the home side into life with Linda Douglas and Kylie Murphy working hard in midfield to stem the flow from Celtic while also supplying the ball to the hard working on Jarrett upfront. On sixty seven minutes, disaster struck for Castlebar when Jarrett broke through and Kim Flood took her down in the area, resulting in referee Rhona Daly showing no hesitation in awarding a penalty and red carding the unfortunate Flood. Jarrett calmly slotted the spot kick into the corner of the net much to the delight of the large home crowd and it definitely looked like things were going the way of the girls in Pink.
To their credit, Castlebar showed great character and determination and came in search of a quick response with Emma Mullin getting her shot away but Lauren Dwyer was on hand to avert the danger. Nicola Fowley saw her shot pushed away by Kelly in the Wexford goal while Aileen Gilroy also saw her shot bundled clear by a hard working home defence. With a minute to go, the game was put out of the visitors reach when Jarrett broke through in search of her hat trick but King came off her line well to save, however Katie McCarthy was on hand to send the ball into an empty net and break the hearts of the supporters who had made the long journey from the West.
Three minutes of injury time saw no more goalmouth action and when Daly sounded the final whistle, the celebrations kicked off for the home side with three years of hard work finally paying off.
Castlebar Celtic will feel disappointed at losing their third cup final in two years despite working hard for long periods of the game with Sarah Rowe, Emma Mullin and Rachel King all doing well
Rianna Jarrett collected the player of the match award but was closely run by her team mates Nicola Sinnott, Maria Delahunty and Lauren Dwyer in an overall hard working team performance from the Wexford girls
By Peter Doyle
Wexford Youths Women: Mary Rose Kelly, Lauren Dwyer, Jessica Gleeson, Nicola Sinnott, Ciara Rossiter, Linda Douglas (Edel Kennedy), Kylie Murphy, Aoibheann Webb (Clare O Riordan), Ashling Frawley, Maria Delahunty (Katie McCarthy), Rianna Jarrett. Subs not used: Tamara Furlong, Laura Heffernan, Amy Walsh, Rachel Hutchinson
Castlebar Celtic: Rachel King, Katie Walsh, Nicole Fowley, Kim Flood, Aisling Egan, Lauren Boles, Aileen Gilroy, Emma Mullin, Emma Hansberry, Rachel Kearns (Aoife Brennan), Sarah Rowe, Trish Moran, Stacey Muldowney, Maz Sweeney, Shaunagh Jackson, Caoimhe O Reilly, Yvonne Hedigan
Referee: Rhona Daly Assistants: Olivia Sneyd and Danielle Hickey
Fourth Official: Michelle O Neill