Cork City fail to fire away to Shels as the second phase of the league begins

Cork City fail to fire away to Shels as the second phase of the league begins

Sophie Liston, Cork City, negotiates to get around Shelbourne's Courtney Higgins. Picture: Moya Nolan

Shelbourne 4 Cork City 0

CORK City began the second phase of the Women’s National League with a comprehensive defeat at the hands of Shelbourne in Tolka Park on Saturday afternoon.

After conceding opening period goals to Rachel Graham and Jess Gargan, the visitors lost goalkeeper Maria O’Sullivan to a straight red card on 49 minutes. 

This effectively ended hopes of a second-half comeback for Rónán Collins’ outfit and, thanks to additional contributions from Emily Whelan and Pearl Slattery, Shels ultimately emerged as convincing winners.

By virtue of their impressive early-season form, the Leesiders were placed in Group One for the latter half of a truncated campaign. This pits them amongst the very best teams in the country and City more than held their own during the early moments of this contest.

Yet, the longer the action developed, the more threatening the hosts looked in attack. Having fired agonisingly wide off an earlier effort, Graham eventually broke the deadlock just past the half-hour mark with a powerful strike from distance.

City almost produced the perfect response to this set-back when the raiding Eabha O’Mahony was picked out inside the area on 35 minutes. However, she couldn’t find a way past Rachael Kelly and moments later the Metropolitans doubled their lead with a superb finish by Gargan at an awkward right-angle.

Two goals adrift at the break, City’s woes were compounded four minutes after the restart as O’Sullivan was given her marching orders for a rash tackle on Shels centre-forward Whelan.

 Shelbourne's Isibeal Atkinson gets the pass away despite the attentions of Cork's Zara Foley. Picture: Moya Nolan
Shelbourne's Isibeal Atkinson gets the pass away despite the attentions of Cork's Zara Foley. Picture: Moya Nolan

As a consequence, City attacker Lauren Egbuloniu was withdrawn to make way for back-up custodian Abby McCarthy. The new netminder had a difficult introduction to the action and couldn’t prevent Whelan from increasing the Shels cushion with a smooth 54th-minute finish.

The Dubliners were now in a rampant mood and a fourth goal inevitably arrived on the hour. She found the net in their earlier clash at the same venue in August and Shels skipper Slattery added to her account by heading a cross into the bottom right-hand corner.

While the game was now well beyond them, City persevered with their challenge moving into the final quarter. Sophie Liston was denied by Kelly following a superb through ball from Saoirse Noonan and the latter was marginally off-target on 75 minutes.

Nevertheless, it was a disappointing day in the capital for Cork, who will now aim to dust themselves down ahead of the visit of Treaty United to Bishopstown next weekend for an all-Munster Women’s FAI Cup semi-final.

SHELBOURNE: Rachael Kelly; Jess Gleeson, Pearl Slattery, Jamie Finn (Courtney Higgins 71); Jess Gargan, Rebecca Cooke, Rachel Graham (Ciara Grant 62), Jessica Ziu (Mia Dodd 71), Isibeal Atkinson (Taylor White 71); Alex Kavanagh, Emily Whelan.

CORK CITY: Maria O’Sullivan; Zara Foley, Ciara McNamara, Danielle Burke (Shaunagh McCarthy 65), Nathalie O’Brien (Lauren Walsh 65); Eabha O’Mahony, Becky Cassin (Kate O’Donovan 76); Sophie Liston, Christina Dring (Laura Shine 76), Saoirse Noonan; Lauren Egbuloniu (Abby McCarthy 51).

Referee: Paula Brady (Dublin).

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