Thursday 23 January 2020

Kelly double sparks joy for Wexford

Wexford Youths 3-2 Peamount United

Delight: Wexford Youths celebrate with the cup following the FAI Women's Cup Final win over Peamount United at the Aviva Stadium
Delight: Wexford Youths celebrate with the cup following the FAI Women's Cup Final win over Peamount United at the Aviva Stadium

Wexford Youths may have been slow starters this season as their league crown slipped away but a blistering start at the Aviva ensured they would at least retain their FAI Cup title at the expense of their fierce Peamount United rivals.

"We knew today wouldn't define us," said manager Tom Elmes. "That only puts pressure on you."

Instead, that burden seemed to pile upon Peamount from the moment they conceded a sloppy third-minute lead goal.

It had been assumed in 2019 that the Dubliners would repeat the double acquired by their country foes last year but, for Aine O'Gorman and Karen Duggan, the wait for success in the blue riband continues.

Twice, Peamount pegged back their opponents but the favourites never seemed comfortable; in contrast, Wexford's sniping, counter-attacking game, spear-headed by the twinkle-toed Rianna Jarrett, always seemed to hold the edge.

Peamount may have dominated the ball but Wexford dominated the game's crucial moments.

Another errant pre-match supposition would have had Jarrett cast as the star of the show were her side to prevail but, while she did cause havoc against Louise Corrigan and co, it was her team-mate Lauren Kelly who emerged as the Cup heroine, her two-goal salvo notching her the player of the match award.

Her side had led 2-1 at half-time thanks to her brace of strikes in the third and 33rd minute, sandwiching a fine effort from Karen Duggan for the losers.

Peamount levelled thanks to Eleanor Ryan-Doyle's speculative strike in the 53rd minute but Wexford responded with a finely crafted winning goal from captain Kylie Murphy ten minutes later.

Wexford were clinical and precise when they needed to be.

It helped that they were offered a guiding hand so early in the piece.

Peamount were unable to impose any sense of their renowned attacking strength as they were undone by a series of defensive mishaps which gifted their opponents a lead after just three minutes. Murphy pounced on a loose ball in midfield and probed right to Kelly who extricated herself from Walsh's tackle attempt.

Karen Duggan didn't even get the chance to tackle as Kelly's swishing shimmy glided her past the defender to advance on the penalty area; once there, she opened her body for a right-footed shot which hoodwinked keeper Niamh Reid-Burke.

Their equaliser did arrive in the 32nd minute; Corrigan, atoning for her earlier error, bustled Jarrett out of possession beneath the shadow of the main stand and drove down the right wing.

Ryan-Doyle and O'Gorman combined well before the latter sent a delivery into that over-populated central area.

This time, Peamount won the scrap and the possession; up stepped Karen Duggan, not a renowned scorer of goals, to send a screamer beyond Ciamh Dolland.

Yet Peamount were almost as stunned by their equaliser as they had been the earlier concession for within a minute they trailed once more.

Jarrett's hold-up play initiated the move; allowing Ciara Rossiter to join in support before flinging in a cross which should have been met with a dismissive header from Walsh but wasn't.

And there was Kelly again, guiding a sumptuous volley with the outside of her right foot beyond Reid-Burke.

Peamount started the second even better. Their 52nd minute leveller was not a surprise and involved another goalkeeping howler; Dolland only managing to parry Ryan-Doyle's speculative 30-yard effort into the net.

For the first time all afternoon, it seemed that now the league champions might stride authoritatively for home but Wexford wouldn't be shrugged.

In the 64th minute, Wexford took the lead for a third time. Kelly's sweeping pass found Jarrett on the edge of the area and, as both Corrigan and Farrelly stepped up, Murphy snuck into the vacated space and calmly slotted home.

Now it was Alamo time. Walsh and Ryan-Doyle went closest for Peamount but Jarrett remained a menace and indeed came closer than anyone else to adding to the day's tally.

For Wexford, this was the sweetest of dreams after retaining their FAI Cup crown.

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