League Report: DLR Waves 0 - 1 Athlone Town

Roisin Molloy scored the winner over DLR waves

Roisin Molloy scored the winner over DLR waves Credit: None

Athlone Town rubbed sea salt into a red wound with a narrow 1-0 victory over DLR Waves, stretching their lead above Shelbourne at the top of the SSE Airtricity Women’s Premier Division.

Following their second league win in the capital within seven days, Ciaran Kilduff’s squad have now forged a three-point gap ahead of the Drumcondra Debonairs on a weekend that feels particularly significant for the league’s title race standings.

Early league leaders Galway United succumbed to their third consecutive loss, while Shelbourne dropped points against Wexford FC following a scoreless stalemate at Tolka Park.

While the race for the top prize is far from over, the midlands club have shown real grit with a generous measure of class to position themselves at the head of the pack and cool the fire that has blazed in Drumcondra with two hard-fought wins.

It was a black-tie event once again for Athlone as they stepped onto the Belfield Belle’s turf, the sun beating down on their all-black kits as both sets of players squinted into the blinding sunlight.

New signing Abbie Brophy started for the home side and wore the number 10 jersey.

Casey Howe almost had the UCD Bowl cracked in under a minute thanks to her skipper Laurie Ryan’s muscle—the 21-year-old letting fly with a first-time projectile that whizzed past the right-hand post.

The Town kept three at the back as Chloe Singleton looked to exploit down the right flank, while Isobel Ryan threatened on the left.

A penalty went unanswered in the 9th when Madison Gibson hit the deck, and Howe continued to hunt, her sights firmly set on Eve Badana’s sticks as Singleton and Roisin Molloy looked to supply the sniper.

Débutante Brophy showed a touch of style on the right channel as she set Molloy dizzy and fed an industrious ball that a tightly organised Town defence cleared.

Michelle Doonan too sought to ruffle the visitors’ backline but two sweeping deliveries into the D were just too high for the striker to reach.

The respect the former Bohs player has gleaned across the league was evident when five black shirts tailed the number 20 as she hit and ran towards Katie Keane’s net (9 minutes 15 seconds of the stream here if you want to check it out—some sight!)

One of Doonan’s clever dinks nearly paid off in the 26th; however, her shot lacked power and failed to trouble Keane, who denied Doonan once again on the half-hour mark when the forward let fly on foot of a Waves counterattack.

DLR manager Laura Heffernan could be heard urging her players to chase the black shirts down as their quality began to permeate—Bronagh Kane and Chloe McCarthy to their credit wide to any attempted through balls to Howe who roved dangerously for the full ‘45.

Both sides entered their respective dressing rooms all square following a competitive and frenetic first half.

The breakthrough came in the 55th minute when Badana’s net rippled.

Goalscorer Molloy and co celebrated the number 14’s missile launch - the strike made all the more impressive by the obtuse angle from which it was struck.

Doonan almost levelled the contest in the 58th on foot of a visionary long punt from Chloe McCarthy.

As the ball took an unexpected bounce and sped past Keane, you would have bet your house on Doonan to drive the ball home, yet Kayleigh Shine saved the day with a crucial intercept.

The remainder of the second half was fiercely contested.

Singleton came agonisingly close to securing three points for the visitors in the 64th with a header reminiscent of Christoph Baumgartner’s in Austria’s round of 16 match against Turkey.

As the 23-year-old headed the ball down and into the turf, it looked destined for the back of the net, but the refraction of the bounce sent it flying over the crossbar.

In the 70th, Ryan pedalled forward and beat Isobel Finnegan for pace—the skipper halted only by a cynical foul which earned Finnegan a flash of the yellow.

Howe and Singleton sought to make things happen on the right in the final twenty, Howe’s quick feet no doubt fatiguing Kane and McCarthy.

The Town to their credit defended gallantly and were clever in their play, looking to slow the game down as the final ten ticked by.

“Go to her, Michelle! Ash, Rach, get up higher!” The Waves forewoman roared as Doonan watched Keane leisurely collect the ball—the three Waves shirts jumping to attention as if stunned by an electric current.

Gibson was entrepreneurial throughout and created a chance to put the game to bed in the 87th, but Badana smothered her strike.

The contest ended 1-0 to Athlone Town, who have now extended their lead at the top of the table by three.

DLR Waves: Eve Badana; Cliodhna Donnelly (Rachel Doyle 46), Jessica Gleeson, Chloe McCarthy; Abbie Brophy (Freya Roche 78), Amber Cosgrove, Keelin Dodd, Isobel Finnegan; Michelle Doonan, Bronagh Kane, Nadine Seward (Aisling Meehan 66).
Subs not used: Rugile Auskalnyte, Eve Conheady, Oleta Griffin, Hannah Tobin-Jones, Rebecca McMahon, Nadine Raymond.
Booked: Amber Cosgrove (25), Isobel Finnegan (70), Michelle Doonan (85).
Sent off: None.

Athlone Town WFC: Katie Keane; Shauna Brennan, Kellie Brennan, Jesi Lynne Rossman, Kayleigh Shine; Roisin Molloy (Ciara O'Neill 89), Isabel Ryan (Hazel Donegan 65), Laurie Ryan, Chloe Singleton; Madison Gibson, Casey Howe.
Subs not used: Ciara Glackin, Amy Mahon, Mary Philips, Aoife Murphy O'Connor.
Booked: Casey Howe (80).
Sent off: None.