Shelbourne FC take on Athlone AFC in FAI Cup final to avenge last year’s loss

By Aly McGrath

Shelbourne FC go head-to-head with Athlone AFC in the race to be Evoke.ie FAI Women’s Cup final champions.

The Reds are returning this year to do what they couldn’t in the previous year. The title slipped out of their hands by this year’s rivals Wexford Youths. Their 3-1 loss against The Youths came in Tallaght Stadium last year.

Shelbourne FC took on Bohemians FC in the semifinal in Tolka Park resulting in a 1-0 over their northside rivals. A penalty taken by Noelle Murray in the 28th minute saw The Reds sail into the final round for the fourth time in eight years.

Shelbourne striker Noelle Murray told TheCity.ie how important it is for the girls this year. “The cup this year is very important we feel like we have unfinished business in Tallaght from last year and can’t wait to get back and hopefully finish it off,” she said.

In Athlone Town Stadium, Wexford Youths took on the home side in the fight for a place in the final. The Town, currently standing in fourth place, beat Wexford Youths 3-0 with a brilliant performance.

Manager Tommy Hewitt told WestmeathIndependent.ie that “it was one of the proudest days of my life after getting married and having kids”. His side passed on into the final as a result of a spectacular hat-trick by Maddie Gibson.

Shelbourne were crowned 2022 Womens National League Winners after putting in an incredible performance in Ferrycarraig Park last Saturday. The back-to-back league winners beat Wexford Youths 4-0 with goals from Jessie Stapleton, Alex Kavanagh, Megan-Smyth Lynch and seventeen-year-old Abbie Larkin.

After their important win, top goal scorer Noelle Murray says, “it feels great to win the league back-to-back. It isn’t easy to do, so myself and the team are buzzing we have done it and secured the title of league champions again.”

The Reds bet their rivals Peamount last year by one point to secure the title and came back again this year to dominate the league table and once again, come out on top.

Captain Pearl Slattery said in an interview with Shelbourne FC “we hit a bit of dip, but we never second guessed ourselves, we kept going and kept going. We could have made excuses with the girls we lost during the year, but we didn’t. It would have been an insult to everyone else in the squad. I’m so proud of the girls.”

Before heading off to lift the trophy she ends with “well we won back-to-back titles and we saved Tolka Park, what else can I say.”

The Reds are encouraging and calling on fans to come out to support in Tallaght Stadium “our support has been amazing this year and we ask it one final time on Sunday for a big push over the line.”

The final is being broadcast on RTE2 and RTE Player.

Women’s National League matches are being shown on LOITV, a free subscription website online, alongside the SSE Airtricity League matches.

Murray adds of the coverage: “It’s totally deserved the standard is unbelievable and it is only going to get better.

“Young girls playing are looking up to women in sport like these girls and they are their inspiration. What I’d say to young girls is to keep at it. Keep playing and believe that one day you will be the one on telly playing making dreams come through.”

Both teams are heading out in early November to battle it out to become FAI Cup Champions.

The standard of woman’s football has dramatically increased in recent years and is finally starting to see some amazing growth in the sector.

According to the FAI, last year’s final hosted a record breaking 3,053 fans and the hope is that this year they can once again see a huge turnout.

The FAI Cup Final is taking place on November 6th in Tallaght Stadium, kickoff is at 3pm.

Tickets are €10 and are on sale at ticketmaster.ie

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