UCD Waves 1-2 Raheny United AET (O’Gorman 40’; McCabe 20’, Killeen 95’)
This all-conquering Raheny United team refused to be swept away by a UCD wave in this end-to-end Cup final at Lansdowne Road. Raheny United’s recent dominance of the domestic game is staggering. They have now won the Women’s FAI Cup in each of the last three seasons, while they’ve won the National League twice in that period.
In the end it was an unfortunate defensive error that decided the game, as it took extra time to split these close rivals. Five minutes into extra time a loose clearance found its way to Siobhan Killeen on the left wing 35 yards from goal. As she advanced clear into the UCD box, she managed to get a shot away which squirmed under the body of goalkeeper McGuirk and agonisingly crept over the line. It was harsh on the UCD net-minder as she looked solid throughout.
In truth, there was nothing between these sides and it took something straight out of the top drawer to open the scoring on 20 minutes. 19-year old Katie McCabe’s 30 yard free kick sailed past UCD goalkeeper, Monica McGuirk into the top corner of the net. It was a dream-like strike from the Raheny attacker, whose effort was somewhat aided by referee Michelle O’Neill. The Wexford whistler blew up for a foul on McCabe after here silky skills took her away from several UCD players, when advantage should have been played. However, no little skill was used in applying the finish, which was McCabe’s fourth goal against UCD Waves in two games. On the biggest day in the Women’s footballing calendar, it was a goal befitting of the occasion.
It was almost 2-0 two minutes later as a Raheny free kick wasn’t properly cleared, but the lively Siobhan Killeen couldn’t find a way past Monica McGuirk. UCD decided to change tack, with wingers Russell and Berrill swapping sides. It seemed to work, as the industrious O’Gorman, ploughing a lone furrow upfront, dropped into the right channel more frequently to link-up with Julie Ann Russell. Indeed it was that duo who managed to link-up – via the crossbar – to create UCD’s equalising score on 40 minutes. Russell picked up the ball in midfield, nutmegged Clare Conlon and thrust a shot from 20 yards which smacked off the bar. The sound of the crossbar rattling was still echoing around the vast bowl-shaped arena when the alert Áine O’Gorman expertly turned home the rebound. Game on.
Second half UCD wave
The opening exchanges in the second half provided a continuation of the end-to-end first period. Julie Ann Russell still out on the right wing was having more of an impact on the game with her incisive dribbling. Although it wasn’t until the 73rd minute when her play contributed to an opening. She passed to Áine O’Gorman who fed Jetta Berrill whose shot was deflected wide for a corner. From the resultant corner the ball came to UCD’s Dora Gorman outside the box, but her effort struck the apex of bar and post. UCD were now riding the crest of a wave and two minutes later Áine O’Gorman was brilliantly denied by the Raheny goalkeeper, one-on-one, after she found space between two defenders. It looked destined she’d score.
There were two further chances for Raheny in this exciting decider. First UCD’s Rebekah Carroll cleared to the edge of her own box, straight to Katie McCabe, but the plucky forward couldn’t dance her way through when well placed. Then one minute later UCD’s defensive rock – Ciara Grant – made a superb tackle to deny a winner as Raheny turned the screw.
As both teams settled into two periods of 10 minutes’ extra time, a cruel error awarded Raheny with the lead goal. They almost made it more in the dying embers as Noelle Murray thumped the crossbar twice.
In the end Raheny United went on to win and are on-course for a triple domestic double. The only shame was the fact that there had to be a loser on the day and moreover, that 99% of the seats in the Aviva Stadium lay empty.
UCD Waves: McGuirk; Carroll; Duggan; Grant; McCarthy; Gorman; Russell; Thorpe; Ryan (55’ Nolan); O’Gorman; Berrill (77’ Cahill).
Subs not used: O’Reilly (GK); Brien; Mustaki.
Raheny United: Reid-Burke; Keenan (95’ Newman); Walsh; Dwyer; Conlon (63’ O’Farrelly); Slattery; Creagh; Graham; McCabe; Murray; Killeen.
Subs not used: Houldsworth (GK); Barnes; Cronin; Sheehy; Brierley.
Player of the Match: Noelle Murray (Raheny United).
Attendance: 400 (estimate).