Cork City 1 Galway 0
CORK City claimed their fifth win and just their second clean sheet of the Women’s National League season as they deservedly defeated Galway 1-0 at Turner’s Cross on Saturday evening.
An Abby McCarthy penalty save in the first half and then a dramatic 90th-minute finish from captain Becky Cassin was enough to earn City a valuable three points in front of an excellent crowd of 434.
City weren’t afraid to get stuck in during the first half but it was their opponents that looked the more threatening in the opening stages.
They almost took the lead in the fourth minute but after being picked out by Shauna Brennan’s cross, playmaker Elle O’Flaherty could only stab her effort over the crossbar from a few yards out.
The number 11 then did brilliantly to reclaim possession from Aoibhín Donnelly in a dangerous possession on the edge of the penalty area but her tame attempt was easily saved by Abby McCarthy.
But Galway would be presented with the perfect opportunity to finally take the lead midway through the first half when the referee pointed to the penalty spot after he judged Ciara McNamara to have handled the ball just inside the box.
O’Flaherty took the responsibility for the spot kick but she was up against a master of saving penalties in the form of Abby McCarthy who got down low to her right to make her third penalty stop in her last five games before Brennan drilled the rebound into the side netting.
That superb save seemed to spark City into life in an attacking sense and they finished the first half the better side.
They ought to have taken a lead into the half time break but Galway netminder Abbiegayle Ronayne followed her opposite number’s example by making a couple of fine saves.
First, she denied Laura Shine, who was sent bearing down on goal after great work in the build-up by Christina Dring, before she then smothered Donnelly’s fierce hit at the back post.
Danny Murphy’s troops carried that positive momentum into the second 45 as they started brightly after the restart and again went close to edging in front.
Christina Dring continued to cause the opposition’s rearguard problems as she expertly controlled a dropping ball over the top but the striker just couldn’t get her shot away quick enough, allowing a defender to recover to deflect her goalbound attempt off target.
Eva Mangan, who celebrated her 18th birthday during the week while she was away on international duty in Portugal with the Republic of Ireland U19s, was inches away from ending a memorable few days on a high just shy of the hour.
The talented midfielder drilled an excellent strike from the edge of the penalty area towards the far bottom left corner but Ronayne got down well to turn the ball wide of the far bottom left corner.
And just when it looked like it would end scoreless, City upped the tempo and shortly after Laura Shine struck the post with a sliced volley, Cassin slotted home just inside the same upright from a tight angle.