Cork City WFC 1 UCD Waves 0
EVEN at 22, it’s difficult to imagine what more Clare Shine has left to secure her status as a Cork sporting legend.
Irish international, World Cup capped, and underage international, and FAI Cup winner with Raheny United, and a cup final winner for Glasgow City, the former Douglas Hall player had scored an impressive 17 goals in 20 appearances since returning to Cork City WFC, but her 18th will be remembered as the one.
After Katie McCarthy’s driving run and perfectly weighted through-ball, Shine’s deft touch took the ball past UCD Waves captain Claire Walsh, and she had the composure to beat goalkeeper Brooke Dunne with a left-footed finish to put City in front.
Player of the match was incidental, 56 battling minutes followed for Frank Kelleher’s side to kill before the cup was theirs, and like in their semi-final defeat of Wexford Youths, City didn’t just hang on, they powered through.
Frank Kelleher’s side were hard at work during the week on the counter-attack, and after just five minutes were putting it into use. After Nathalie O’Brien’s crunching tackle set Saoirse Noonan away, her fine through-ball found the feet of Shine, whose shot was claimed at the second attempt by UCD goalkeeper Brooke Dunne.
The Waves’ attempted wide play was being stifled by City’s full-backs Natalie O’Brien and Danielle Burke, whose fearless performances were impressing Ireland boss Colin Bell watching on, Claire Walsh’s curling effort wide of the near post their only effort in the opening half-hour.
If anything it was the underdogs City doing the pressing, and a fine Danielle Sheehy cross floated onto the foot of Katie McCarthy arriving, but Shine didn’t hear the call, and her nicked header robbed the former Waves player of an excellent chance to score against her former club.
Shine was doing sterling work at the head of a City attack, and again Noonan took advantage of a high Waves line to play in Shine, but from a close angle she blasted wide.
Six minutes later, however, she showed far more composure, and after a celebration, involving all 11 players, the Leesiders grew in confidence, and following a Walsh header comfortably held by Amanda Budden, Shine almost capitalised on a miskick by Walsh to put pressure on Dunne. However the netminder showed no signs of hesitation, following a heavy collision with Noonan earlier.
That brought a very pleased Frank Kelleher’s side to the break, having executed their game plan to perfection With 20 minutes left all of their hard-work could have been undone. Budden’s heavy touch allowed substitute Naima Chemaou to put pressure, the keeper compounding things by landing her clearance at Catherine Cronin’s feet whose attempted lob tailed wide just at the last moment.
Noonan first, then Danielle Burke, went down injured, but both carrying on in a heroic effort. The former’s battling performance seeing her put a fantastic through-ball again for Shine, and having looked clean through, the Irish international was brilliantly tracked and closed down by Waves centre-backs Walsh and Emily Cahill.
Tiring bodies on both sides, and having battled off an attempted UCD counter, the Rebel Army had their second chance in as many minutes to seal the deal.
This time McCarthy with the gorgeous slip, but Dunne was out quickly to save Danielle Sheehy’s close-range effort with her feet.
Three minutes into added time, a late free-kick was almost carried over the line by Budden. But she and City held on like the board did during their toughest times having conceded a walkover to Raheny four years ago, like Angie Carry and Natalie O’Brien did throughout the history of the club, like Niall O’Regan and later Frank Kelleher did with their forward-planning strategy of developing young players.
With several players, including Shine in the squad in their late teens and early 20s, Burke just 17, it’s an upward projection for Kelleher’s side, who has now stretched his winning cup record to seven on the trot.
Should City, and Shine, continue to deliver in the way they did this afternoon, and throughout this toughest of Cup records, that 100% record is soon to be challenged sooner rather than later.
CORK CITY WFC: A Budden; N O’Brien, M Duncliffe, C McNamara, D Burke; D Sheehy, M Bourque, K O’Donovan (C Dring 64), K McCarthy; S Noonan (T O’Gorman 82), C Shine.
UCD WAVES: B Dunne; A Dunbar (S Gaynor 90), E Cahill, C Walsh, R Carroll; D Beirne (L Kelly 82), K Duggan, C Mustaki, C Cronin; O Nolan, K Letmon (N Chemaou 64).
Referee: P Brady (Dublin).