League Report: Shamrock Rovers 0 - 1 Galway United

Christine Allen reports from Tallaght Stadium

A bullet from Eve Dossen proved fatal as Galway United beat Shamrock Rovers 1-0 in what was a thriller at Tallaght.

With TG4 as its witness, the game kicked off at 7.35pm, United making six changes to the starting XI that drew two apiece against Athlone Town in the All Island Cup last weekend

Jessica Berlin lined out between the sticks for the Tribeswomen, with Therese Kinnevey, Isabella Beletic, Jodie Griffin, Lynsey McKey and Emily Kavanaugh starting outfield.

For the Hoops, Amanda Budden stepped back between the goal posts, with Aoife Kelly returning to the starting team.

The LGBT Ireland signage took pride of place in the centre of the turf as the players took to the pitch, the women in maroon and white engaging in some last-minute cone drills with technical coach Theresa Keane before forming a huddle.

Both sides roared before dispersing from their respective units as the shutters clicked and the cameras rolled.

On the sidelines, Galway United manager Phil Trill looked dapper for the televised occasion, sporting a cream blazer.

From the tip-off, this fixture had battle written all over it as Kinnevey and Lia O'Leary tore down the left lane, the Killannin native beating the pacy winger to the ball.

A light rain began to fall in Tallaght as passes zipped along the turf.

Joy Ralph had the first chance on goal when Jamie Erickson failed to control a long drive from Budden.

The number 19 was quick to pounce but her first touch proved too heavy and the ball skidded out of reach, allowing Berlin to smother.

Budden directed her side to “keep it tight” as the game continued at a frenetic pace, Virginia native Kavanaugh brewing up a storm on the right channel.

The Rovers goal minder was alert to danger moments later, sprinting off her line and stopping a wayward pass from reaching the tenacious Julie-Ann Russell, while at the North Stand end, defender Eve Dossen swaggered, muscling Ralph off the ball at the lip of the box.

Both skippers stepped up to the plate in the opening 45, Áine O’Gorman tireless in her hunt for goal while Lynsey McKey probed the lock on the Rover's backline.

In defence, the Rovers rampart was impenetrable.

Hennessy showed her mettle for the Hoops and proved to be a calm and commanding presence at the back, the Mullingar native neutralising the Tribeswomen’s huntresses.

Katie O'Reilly too played her part and tracked Aoibheann Costello, who threatened on the left wing.

Rovers then shifted up a gear and put United on the back foot for the final 15 of the first half, Budden applauding with each slick passage of play as a glancing header from Ralph flashed wide of the post.

“F*****g brilliant!” The Douglas native praised from outside her own D as the rain relentlessly fell.

O’Leary and Ralph were vociferous in their calls for a penalty moments later when the Greenhills native hit the deck in the 32nd minute.

To both players' exasperation, referee Aaron O’Dowd adjudicated that the Rovers forward was not pushed by Dossen and play continued.

United would sucker-punch Rovers in the 41st minute, Dossen beating the green and white shirts at the back post to guide home an inswinging ball from Erickson.

O’Gorman had a chance to level the contest in additional time when Ralph angled a beautifully placed cross across goal, yet the momentum of the skipper's run would negatively impact her ability to keep her shot low and on target.

The second half was highly physical with seven yellow cards issued - both sets of teams fighting tooth and nail for every ball with the understanding that the next goal would prove crucial.

The Hoops had clearly made a half-time call to Daft.ie, so often were the women in green and white renting space in front of the South Stand end as Shauna Fox and Ralph tried their luck.

From the sideline, United manager Phil Trill instructed Kavanaugh as the home side pressed.

O’Reilly and Costello continued to duel on the left wing as the number two pushed high from her defensive position, while the formidable Melissa O’Kane wrestled with goalslinger Jenna Slattery.

"Girls, you need to be getting up on that ball!" Fox shouted from the backline as O’Kane stood over a prone Slattery, the referee’s whistle piercing the air.

United evicted the home side as play shifted once again, Costello swinging a shot towards the North End goal - Budden doing well to parry it to the right and wide.

Aislinn Meaney continued her impressive run of form since returning from injury and the woman in maroon was a mere blur on the Tallaght turf as time after time she collected the ball in midfield and charged at Maria Reynolds.

The competitive needle between both sides became evident in the final 20 as a purple backdrop of darkness shadowed the blazing floodlights and 22 of this country's best players danced.

Meaney carved out another chance from nothing in the 81st minute when she drove forward from the centre of the park, Herron and Hennessy hot on her heels.

The former Treaty United playmaker would show her strength and skill as she pedalled beyond Herron and fired on goal - Budden pulling off a spectacular save to keep the score at 1-0.

Stephanie Zambra, Eileen Gleeson's Peamount protege would enter the fray with five minutes left on the clock, yet United would hold on for the three points and retain their position as league leaders.

Rovers' search for their first league win continues.

Shamrock Rovers: Amanda Budden; Shauna Fox (Alannah Prizeman 68), Jessica Hennessy, Scarlett Herron, Maria Reynolds; Aoife Kelly, Melissa O'Kane (Stephanie Zambra 86), Lia O'Leary, Katie O'Reilly (Jaime Thompson 62), Joy Ralph; Aine O'Gorman.

Subs not used: Summer Lawless, Fiona Owens, Lauren Kelly, Ella Kelly.

Booked: Katie O'Reilly (39), Shauna Fox (43), Scarlett Herron (67), Jaime Thompson (70), Alannah Prizeman (84).

Galway United: Jessica Berlin; Aoibheann Costello, Eve Dossen, Jamie Erickson, Therese Kinnevey; Isabella Beletic, Jodie Griffin (Emma Duffy 76), Lynsey McKey (Amanda Smith 89), Julie-Ann Russell, Jenna Slattery; Emily Kavanaugh (Aislinn Meaney 65).

Subs not used: Maria O'Sullivan, Lucy-Jayne Grant, Mary Tyrrell, Amy Madden, Roisin Jacob, Heather Loomes.

Booked: Eve Dossen (68), Emma Duffy (83).

Referee: Aaron O'Dowd.

Attendance: 308.