President’s Cup: Athlone Town 3 – 0 Peamount United

Chloe Singleton on the ball pictured in action for Athlone Town against Shelbourne last season

Chloe Singleton on the ball pictured in action for Athlone Town against Shelbourne last season Credit: Martin Doherty (ETPhotos)

Simon O’Gorman reports from Athlone Town Stadium

A two goal salvo from second half sub Chloe Singleton set Athlone Town on the way to an emphatic 3-0 President’s Cup win over reigning league champions Peamount United on Saturday evening.

The game started brightly with both sides looking to get forward, and on five minutes Athlone carved the first half chance when Madison Gibson did well down the left before rolling a low ball across the Peamount area.

It was a position which promised an early goal but it evaded new centre forward Casey Howe and Kate Slevin couldn’t quite get a touch. The chance was gone and it presaged a running theme for both teams who struggled to connect with their respective strikers throughout the first half.

Kellie Brennan and Roisin Molloy raided sporadically down Athlone’s right, while Gibson created a number of openings on the left, but whenever they did find the feet of Howe, she was invariably off-side.

At the other end, Ellen Dolan received scant service from the wealth of talent around her and Sadhbh Doyle had the best opportunity for the Peas when she fired a shot towards Katie Keane’s near post, causing the home keeper to scramble a save as the ball seemed destined for the net.

Howe had the Midlanders’ best chance in the first half, on 28 minutes, turning and shooting in a fluid movement, but her effort glided just over the Peamount bar.

Athlone started the second half with great energy but just seven minutes in we saw the same unfinished symphony being played between Gibson and Howe, the former’s strong run and neat pass, remaining unfinished by the latter.

Howe was doing better on her own initiative and minutes later she curled a fine shot inches wide.

Just before the hour mark, Peamount made their first sub, new signing Erica Burke replacing Sadhbh Doyle. Dolan moved out to the right with McLaughlin coming into a central role alongside Duggan.

Within two minutes, a driven cross from full back Dearbhaile Beirne almost broke the deadlock when Keane very nearly spilled it. But the keeper clung on and the ball finally fell into her grasp while Burke hovered.

In the 65th minute, Ciaran Kilduff sprang Chloe Singleton and Jenaya Robertson from the bench and three minutes later Kellie Brennan whipped a superb cross to the back post where Gibson failed to convert.

The pace of the home side was increasing, the pressure on the visitors building.

On 70 minutes a stray leg from Jetta Berrill brought Gibson down just inside the box. Referee Ray Matthews pointed to the spot. Surely now the stalemate was over. But no.

Gibson took the ball, placed it on the spot and shot to her right. It was a decent effort, but Peas ‘keeper Reid-Burke dived to her left. Ball and keeper met in mid air and the sizeable crowd of 1,152 were still waiting for their first goal of the evening.

Another chance fell on 75 minutes. The tireless, battling Howe picked up a loose ball right in front of goal but was forced to turn away before twisting on the ball and hammering a low shot that forced an incredible recovering save from Reid-Burke.

By now it felt that the Gods had decided on a scoreless 90 minutes but we should never presume to know what the deities have in store for us.

With 13 minutes left on the clock Kellie Brennan flung in another testing cross. This time Singleton was on the end of it and did just enough to encourage the ball wide of Reid Burke and over the line.

The celebrations from the Athlone players were wild. They deserved their lead. And now the floodgates opened.

The home team surged forwards. Another strong run from Gibson resulted in an inside ball to Singleton, who blasted wide of the target. But there was real intent behind it and confidence was flowing.

On 84 minutes the second goal came. Singleton again, heading home a corner after Howe had somehow been denied, Ciara Maher heading her scooped shot off the goal-line and over the bar.

A third was almost inevitable. And it was Howe who got it four minutes from time. A just reward for a performance full of passion, hard work and perseverance. Almost poetically it came from another Gibson run, charging at the defence and slipping an inside ball to Howe.

The play that had not worked for 86 minutes, finally came good.

Deep in added time Ellen Dolan almost bagged a consolation, but her powerful shot was saved acrobatically by Keane.

The final whistle sounded and Athlone collected their second consecutive President’s Cup. And the manner of their win has sounded an alarm. The league champions were going home well beaten and Athlone can look forward to the new season with optimism.

Athlone Town: Katie Keane, Kellie Brennan, Kayleigh Shine, Jesi Rossman, Shauna Brennan; Kate Slevin (Jenaya Robertson 65), Laurie Ryan; Roisin Molloy (Gillian Keenan 85), Kerryanne Brown (Chloe Singleton 65), Madison Gibson; Casey Howe.

Subs Not Used: Amy Mahon (gk), Isabel Ryan, Antea Guvo, Mary Philips, Ciara O’Neill, Abby Carchio.

Booked: None.

Peamount United: Niamh Reid-Burke; Lauryn O’Callaghan, Jetta Berrill, Ciara Maher, Dearbhaile Beirne; Jess Fitzgerald; Freya Healy (Louise Masterson 80), Karen Duggan, Sadhbh Doyle (Erica Burke 57), Erin McLoughlin; Ellen Dolan.

Subs Not Used: Niamh Richardson (gk), Niamh Coombes (gk), Caoimhe Connaughton, Avril Brierley, Mia McGonnell, Toni Ceno, Jill Giles.

Booked: None.

Referee: Ray Matthews

Attendance: 1,152 Player of the Match: Kellie Brennan (Athlone Town).