This week it’s all about the business end of the domestic season. Cup semi-finals take centre stage this coming weekend and just four rounds remain in the league. We also look at how Irish players did overseas.
Women’s National League
The five games last weekend saw 11 goals scored. A lower total than usual which can be put down to the league being more competitive than in previous seasons.
Women’s National League Results – September
Athlone Town 2-0 Shelbourne
Goals: Scarlett Herron 65′ (1-0), Kellie Brennan 68′ (2-0)
Cork City 1-0 Galway
Goals: Becky Cassin 89′ (1-0)
Peamount United 2-0 Sligo Rovers
Goals: Áine O’Gorman 41′ (1-0), Sadhbh Doyle 62′ (2-0)
Wexford Youths 3-0 Treaty United
Goals: Edel Kennedy 5′ (1-0), Kylie Murphy 44′ (2-0), Ciara Rossiter 45+1′ (3-0)
Bohemians 2-1 DLR Waves
Goals: Abbie Brophy 42′ (1-0), Mia Dodd 47′ (1-1), Chloe Darby P 87′ (2-1)
As It Stands
The only positional change in the table is Bohemians overtaking DLR Waves and moving up to 6th place. The weekend’s results mean Treaty United are guaranteed to finish bottom of the league.
The last few weeks we have been speculating whether the title race was a two, three, or four team affair. With Athlone’s performance against Shels on the weekend and Peamount picking up a win it’s clear with four games to go that there are four teams in it.
With that being said Wexford now must be heavy favorites. They moved four points clear on the weekend, and if they win three of their remaining four games they will be champions. This title race may still have a twist however.
Top 4 Remaining Fixtures
While Peamount have the weekend off, Wexford, Shelbourne, and Athlone will be competing for a place in the FAI Cup Final. No team would turn down the opportunity to play in a Cup final, but the danger is it will be a day of emotional highs or lows for each team. Wexford and Athlone face off before playing each other again in the league. Two games against the same opposition in quick succession can often lead to varying results. The loser of the cup game could see themselves as favorites for the rematch the following weekend. Interestingly the 4th semi-finalists, Bohemians, play Peamount the following week. The momentum from the cup, be it positive or negative, could carry over into the league.
Another crucial factor is that there is an international break between round 24 and 25. On October 11th, the Tuesday before round 25, Ireland will either be in Scotland or Austria for their World Cup Play-Off. Last time a total of six WNL players made the squad, with Wexford, Shelbourne, and Peamount all represented. That play-off has the potential to be one of the greatest nights in Irish football, or a complete heartbreak. Either way the players that are away will be emotionally and physically drained for their league game just days later.
Despite having the advantage in the table Wexford have what appears to be the most difficult run-in. They play the other three top four sides. Three more wins for Youths and they will be champions. Pressure will build on Peamount, Shelbourne, and Athlone as they know they cannot afford drop points.
Athlone have made sure they have had plenty to say in the title race this season. The dream could end at the hands of Wexford both in the cup and the league over the next two weeks, but they won’t fear those meetings. They showed on Saturday they don’t have to fear any team. Shels had plenty of chances as they often do, Niamh Coombes was called into action a lot in the first half. Athlone’s two quickfire goals were the stuff of champions. Two headers, from Scarlett Herron and Kellie Brenan, while under pressure. The Midlands side remained composed and didn’t creak under the pressure from Shelbourne. Athlone have every right to be in this title race, and if it all ends in two weeks they’ve gone on one hell of a run.
Last week we had a word on how well some of the new Bohs recruits were doing ahead of their game against their former side. Bohemians are continuing their impressive run. They beat Waves on the weekend, and have now won five of their last six. Abbie Brophy once again scored for them on the weekend.
There was plenty of drama late in the game at Dalymount Park. Bohs wee awarded a penalty when Erica Burke and Eve Badana went for the same ball, Burke got their first and was brought down. The forward normally takes the penalties for Bohs but had to leave the pitch to get treatment. Chloe Darby ended up taking it. Darby had to wait an age to step up, but eventually fired it into the top corner. Bohs are now just three points off Galway in 5th, and could well find themselves in the top half in just their 3rd season in the league.
Speaking of Galway, Cork City likely made an error in writing Sligo Rovers on the team sheet over the line-up for the Tribeswomen. But after last weeks statements, first from Galway WFC and then Galway United, well… timing is everything.
Galway face DLR Waves and Bohemians over the next two rounds before having difficult games against title chasers Athlone Town and Peamount United. The matches with Waves and Bohs are separated by the international break. Those two games are crucial for the Tribeswomen in securing a top half finish. Whatever happens next season in terms of having a Galway club in the league, a poor finish to the season that see’s them drop out of the top half would leave a sour taste.
DLR Waves, our team as regular readers know, are a bit of an enigma this season. Excellent performances in a win over Shelbourne at home and games against Peamount that really should have been wins have shown this side should really be contending for the title. But performances against teams elsewhere in the league have left them wanting. Their run-in will see them face Galway, Shels, Treaty, and Sligo. A lack of consistency means Waves could struggle in those games, or take the maximum of 12 points. It’s really hard to know. This is a very good Waves squad, their position doesn’t reflect their quality. That game against Galway is of crucial importance in continuing their challenge for a top half finish. Whatever happens they’ll have a chip on their shoulder next season and will be aiming to be in the conversation for the title and UCL football rather than a best of the rest finish.
Race For 8th Place
Cork closed the gap on Sligo Rovers. Here’s the thoughts of dedicated Cork City (men’s and women’s) podcast The Other Three Amigos (@TheOther3Amigos on Twitter)
Great win for Cork City with their second home win in a row in front of their biggest crowd of the season. Just reward for a squad and management team who are improving weekly.Eileen Ring, The Other Three Amigos
Indeed Cork are finishing the season much stronger than they started it. From their last five games, the only time they shipped more than two goals was Wexford Youths last week. Outside of that they’ve had narrow losses against Waves and Athlone, a crucial win against Sligo, and now a hard-fought three points at home to Galway.
Finishing in 8th place does not over anything tangible, but it would arguably mean a great deal to Sligo and Cork. Possibly more so to Sligo, as this is their first season in the league and many tipped them to finish bottom. Cork have a difficult run of games over the next three rounds, they’ll play Shelbourne, Peamount, and Bohemians before finishing off against Treaty. Regardless of if Cork close the gap on Sligo or not continuing their positive performances is of vital importance. At this stage they can’t win anything, but they can set themselves up for a return to 2020 form where they finished in the top half and reached the cup final.
Sligo host Treaty in the next round, and a win there would see them all but secure 8th place. They’ll have a say in the title race as they go to both Wexford and Shels, and then they host DLR Waves on the final day. Avoiding a bottom two finish in their debut season would boost the feel good factor at The Showgrounds. It would be an achievement up there with beating Peamount United 3-0 earlier in the season in a game we can’t remember.
As mentioned above it’s all about the cup this weekend.
Tolka Park is the setting for a Dublin Derby between Shels and Bohs. While the cup may be a welcome distraction from losing top spot in the league, Bohs are one of the form sides in league. If this game was happening back in March or April there would not be much discussion about a competitive affair. Now you could make arguments for either side getting through. There’s a lot of pressure on Shels, ending the season without any silverware would be a disaster after their incredible run at the beginning of the campaign.
Wexford sit top of the table and host Athlone. A loss for the home side could derail their momentum somewhat. Wexford are the form side in the league at the moment so will go in as favourites.
From a neutral perspective, a Bohemians vs Athlone Town final would possibly best for the league. Having two of the newer sides in the WNL in the cup final. We talk a lot about hoping sides that join the WNL being sustainable and successful and offering a challenge, rather than just coming in and not putting it up to anyone.
Any combination of the semi-finalists will provide a good spectacle. You can watch both semi-finals live on LOITV.ie with sign-up.
FAI Cup Semi-Finals -September 24th
Shelbourne vs Bohemians
Tolka Park K/O 14:00
Athlone Town vs Wexford Youths,
Athlone Town Stadium K/O 16:30
Women’s National League – Saturday 1st October
Galway vs DLR Waves
Eamonn Deacy Park / 14:00
Shelbourne vs Cork City
Tolka Park / 14:00
Sligo Rovers vs Treaty United
The Showgrounds / 14:00
Peamount United vs DLR Waves
PRL Park / 17:00
Athlone Town vs Wexford Youths
Athlone Town Stadium / 19:00
The WSL kicked off last weekend. Jess Ziu was one of the stars of the week making her debut for West Ham, having left Shelbourne over the Summer. Just like she did for Ireland against Slovakia she got the assist for the goal and was awarded player of the match.
Katie McCabe appeared for Arsenal in both the league and the Champions League, and she celebrated her birthday on the 21st. Happy birthday to our captain.
Liverpool got a huge win over Chelsea, beating them 2-1. Niamh Fahey, Megan Campbell, and Leanne Kiernan all played. Unfortunately Leanne Kiernan picked up an injury meaning she will miss several months of action and will require surgery. We wish Leanne a speedy recovery.
Elsewhere in the WSL Grace Moloney (Reading), Courtney Brosnan (Everton), and Megan Walsh (Brighton) all played.
In the Championship Chloe Mustaki started for Bristol City. For Birmingham Louise Quinn captained the side with Harriott Scott, Jamie Finn, and Eleanor Ryan-Doyle also featuring. Hayley Nolan and Llly Agg started for London City Lionesses, Agg was sen off for two yellow cards. Saoirse Noonan scored for Durham on the weekend, and got a little bit tangled up in the net while celebrating.
Over in the USA Denise O’Sullivan started for NC Courage in their NWSL game. They play their final home game of the season this coming weekend.
In Scotland Ciara Grant started for Hearts. Claire O’Riordan came on as a sub for Celtic.
Worth mentioning that Aston Villa beat Man City 4-3 in the WSL. Despite being out injured Ruesha Littlejohn was obviously a key figure in the Villa victory providing good bants.
Around the Web
The WNL Wrap with Emma Clinton is always worth watching with the focus this week on if Wexford Youths are champions to be.
EVOKE.ie had a nice piece on Kylie Murphy dedicating her performance this weekend to her late mam,
You can read our write-up of all this week’s WNL games on dedicated women’s football blog Impetus Football, read about all 5 games here.
One Last Thing…
And if you’ve enjoyed any of our stuff please take a look at our fundraiser for Ireland’s National Autism Charity. You can read up on the different challenges we’ve done and why we chose to raise money for As I Am. The link to donate is on our charity fundraiser page, all donations are greatly appreciated and every little bit goes a long way.
The Women’s Football Blast will be back next Wednesday with all the Irish women’s football content you can handle.