It’s crunch time in Peamount’s National League title defence

By Daire Walsh

PEAMOUNT United’s Women’s National League title will be on line this coming Saturday when they welcome Shelbourne to PRL Park in Greenogue.

Should the visitors come out on top of this mouthwatering contest, it will ensure the top-flight silverware will be safely nestled in Tolka Park over the Christmas period. Conversely, a victory in this fixture will see Peamount defending the WNL crown for the first time in their history.

Peamount United players celebrate Lucy McCartans opening goal against Cork City 1

Peamount United players celebrate Lucy McCartan's goal against Cork City in Greenogue on Saturday

If the game ends in a draw, it will keep the respective supporters of Shels and the Newcastle club on tenterhooks for at least another fortnight.

A stalemate would leave the northsiders a point clear of Peamount, who will have only one more match remaining.

Indeed on December 5, James O’Callaghan’s defending champions embark on a 292 kilometre round trip to face Wexford Youths at Ferrycarrig Park. What exactly will be at stake on their journey to the south-east remains to be seen, but Peamount are well aware of the huge threat the Slaneysiders can pose.

In the past two seasons, Peamount were denied FAI Cup success by Wexford on finals day in the Aviva. However, they gained a modicum of revenge for these defeats in Ferrycarrig last Saturday week.

A Dearbhaile Beirne goal was enough to secure Peamount further passage in a tense last-four meeting. As a result, The Peas will now face Cork City in a Cup decider at Tallaght Stadium on December 12.

Something of a dress rehearsal to this encounter took place in Greenogue last Saturday as the Leesiders provided the opposition for the Peas in their latest National League fixture.

The homeside were 3-0 winners in their previous clash with Cork back in mid-August and replicated this result on home soil courtesy of goals from Lucy McCartan, Karen Duggan and Aine O’Gorman.

Given there was much more at stake for the hosts - Cork are a distant fourth in the league table - it is difficult to know how much Saturday’s game told us about their forthcoming battle for the FAI Cup.

While Naoisha McAloon deputised in goal for Niamh Reid-Burke, the only other change to the Peamount starting 11 from the previous week’s success against Wexford was Megan Smyth-Lynch’s selection in place of Becky Watkins.

On the other hand, Cork made a total of four alterations from their own Cup semi-final win over Treaty United - an indication perhaps that this game was not number one on their list of priorities.

The breakthrough arrived 14 minutes into Saturday's clash when McCartan was picked out in space 25 yards from the target and unleashed a powerful strike to the net. She was joined on the scoresheet two minutes later by her midfield partner Duggan, before O’Gorman effectively put the outcome beyond doubt in the latter stages of the half.

Despite featuring in defence under Vera Pauw since coming out of international retirement, O’Gorman has a more advanced role in this Peamount team. She took up a number of positions in the final-third and was released on the left-flank for her 36th-minute finish.

The five substitutes rule in the WNL presented O’Callaghan with an ideal opportunity to test his resources in the second half. This included giving run outs to Stephanie Roche and Dora Gorman, whose experience at the highest level of women’s soccer will be invaluable in the next few weeks - both on and off the field.

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