Cork City 2 Galway 1
CORK City warmed up for next weekend’s FAI Cup final in style as they defeated Galway 2-1 in Bishopstown on Saturday afternoon in their last game of the Women’s National League season.
First-half goals from Saoirse Noonan secured the three points for City to ensure they finished clear of their opponents, who snatched a late consolation through Aoife Thompson, in fourth place in the table.
The hosts started the game well but although they dominated and looked composed in possession it took them 13 minutes to have their first sight at goal.
Following a flowing attacking move, Sophie Liston picked out Éabha O’Mahony but the midfielder, who was recently part of the Republic of Ireland senior squad, could only send her strike from distance over the bar.
Saoirse Noonan took up her usual position behind the striker almost exactly 24 hours before she was set to play left corner-forward for the Cork Ladies Gaelic footballers in their All Ireland semi-final clash against Galway in Dublin.
Shortly after she sent an effort from the left flank just wide of the far post, the talented dual star gave the Leesiders the lead with a superb finish with 19 minutes on the clock.
McNamara’s exquisite pass in behind the opposition’s defence found the run of Noonan and from 20 plus yards, the number ten coolly clipped the ball over the onrushing former City goalkeeper Amanda Budden and into the back of her net.
Another former City player almost levelled the scores against the run of play but midfielder Savannah McCarthy just couldn’t get a good connection on the ball as a corner kick flashed across the face of goal.
Galway would rue that missed opportunity as moments past the half-hour mark, Saoirse Noonan grabbed her and her team’s second of the afternoon with another stunning shot.
O’Mahony did well to win a free kick on the edge of the box before stepping over the ball and allowing Noonan to expertly curl an unstoppable hit into the far bottom right corner.
Club captain Maria O’Sullivan was forced to make a couple of decent saves before the half-time break but it was her side that looked the most likely to grab the crucial third goal of the game.
Noonan was hunting for the finish that would complete her hat trick and she forced Budden into making a good save at the beginning of the second period after neat build-up play O’Mahony and Lauren Egbuloniu.
In truth, the second 45 wasn’t as entertaining as the first although City did threaten to add a third through Christina Dring and a long-range attempt from Nathalie O’Brien.
The Rebel Army remained in control of proceedings but their rivals, who won the last meeting between the sides 2-1 here back in October, set up an interesting finale when Aoife Thompson tapped home from close range but City hung on to the confidence-boosting win.
Maria O’Sullivan, Nathalie O’Brien, Danielle Burke, Ciara McNamara, Zara Foley, Éabha O’Mahony, Christina Dring, Saoirse Noonan, Sophie Liston, Becky Cassin, Lauren Egbuloniu.
Shaunagh McCarthy for Saoirse Noonan (64), Katie McCarthy for Becky Cassin (64), Laura Shine for Lauren Egbuloniu (70), Eadaoin Lyons for Nathalie O’Brien (87), Lauren Singleton for Zara Foley (87).
Amanda Budden, Shauna Brennan, Shauna Fox, Keara Cormican, Chloe Singleton, Aoife Thompson, Lynsey McKey, Jaime Turrentine, Savannah McCarthy, Therese Kinnevey, Tessa Mullins.
Elle O’Flaherty for Tessa Mullins (55), Meabh De Burca for Lynsey McKey (55), Sinead Donovan for Jaime Turrentine (55).