SHELBOURNE 5 ATHLONE TOWN 0
Athlone Town’s women’s team headed into the mid-season break on the back of a heavy defeat against high flying Shelbourne.
The game at Tolka Park last Saturday afternoon was a tough test for the Town. Four of the Reds players had been called up for international duty earlier in the week, all of whom started.
Athlone suffered an early setback with the concession of a goal but were well in contention up to the hour mark. Ciara Grant doubled the lead after 63 minutes and as the visitors tired, Noel King’s charges tagged on three more goals in the final 15 minutes.
Athlone showed three changes to the team that had slipped up at home to Bohemians a week earlier. Leah Brady had suffered a season ending injury in the defeat and was replaced by Kayla Brady. Aoife Haran and Kellie Brennan also came in as Emily Corbet and Kelsey Munroe dropped to the substitutes.
The visitors got off to the worst possible start as they conceded with just 11 minutes played. It was a gift to the Reds as Jamie Finn lobbed the ball into an unguarded net following a botched defensive clearance. It looked like the floodgates could open but Athlone did well to get to the half time break without conceding again.
The visitors did not have many chances to test the Reds keeper but the recalled Brennan and Katelyn Keogh worked hard up front. Athlone had made it difficult in the opening game of the season for Shels and once more frustrated the Dublin outfit for long periods.
The second half continued in a similar fashion with Athlone defending against the second placed team. It was going according to plan but once the lead was doubled after 63 minutes there was no doubt about the outcome.
Noelle Murray was dominant in midfield and a precision pass allowed Grant to celebrate an international call up with the second Shels score. Murray was again involved for goal number three as she set up Saoirse Noonan to score after 74 minutes.
The goal thoroughly deflated the visitors and it was inevitable that Shels would score more as the Town tired. Rebecca Cooke had returned from a stint in America and celebrated with a fine finish with two minutes remaining.
Debutant, Abbie Larkin, finished the scoring in stoppage time as she reacted quickly to find the net from close range after a shot was blocked by the keeper. It put the gloss on the scoreboard for Shels as a gallant Town team were finally shook off in the closing stages.
The win pushed Shelbourne closer to Peamount at the top of the table while Athlone slip back into second bottom spot just ahead of Cork, after Treaty United had leapfrogged them following victory over Bohs.
The campaign now takes a break with Tommy Hewitt’s team back in action at the end of the month with a visit to Limerick to take on Treaty in a proverbial six pointer.