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Saturday 28 January 2023 Dublin: 6°C
# Fairytale
'I can't believe it actually happened to me, and for it to be the winning goal is surreal'
American legend Heather O’Reilly came out of retirement to play in the Champions League, and tonight scored the winning goal for Shelbourne in the competition.

SHELBOURNE WERE 1-0 winners away to Slovenian side ZNK Pomurje in the Champions League qualifier tonight and they wasted no time in writing the fairytale. 

World Cup winner and United States legend Heather O’Reilly sensationally came out of retirement last month to sign for Shelbourne, encouraged by Arsene Wenger to fulfill an ambition to play in the Champions League. 

She started today’s game for Shels and then scored the winning goal after only four minutes, the decisive act of a crazy opening period in which Noelle Murray missed a penalty in the game’s first minute.

‘It’s amazing, a dream come true”, O’Reilly beamed in her post-game interview with Shels’ media channel. “Anybody that has listened to any interviews over the last couple of weeks knows that playing in the Champions League was such a life dream for me. I can’t believe it actually happened to me, and for it to be the winner is amazing, surreal. Everyone played super well, it was a total team win. Onward. 

“I don’t head the ball a ton, but it was sort of bouncing around in the box and I just put a little bit of height to get it up and over the goalkeeper. I felt good about it. It was a really physical game and we had to make some brave plays. Some really good team spirit from us tonight, we will take this and enjoy the night and tomorrow it’s full-steam ahead.” 

 

“I missed a peno and Heather O’Reilly scores and saves my ass”, tweeted Murray. 

Shelbourne drew on heroics from goalkeeper Amanda Budden to win. 

“I am absolutely buzzing, coming over here to Slovenia and winning 1-0. Everyone put in a shift today, and fans coming over. It’s surreal at the moment, absolutely buzzing. Noelle missed a penalty in the first minute and I was like, ‘Ah no, here we go now.’ Then we ripped them apart again in the next few minutes, and we settled down then. We went in at half time and everyone was a bit frantic.

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“They were really pushing on they had nearly six up top for the last 10 minutes, and we were dropping off. I never felt they were properly going to score, we were so good at the back. Everyone gave it every bit of energy they had.” 

Shels will now meet Icelandic champions Valur on Sunday with the winners advancing through to the next stage of the competition, where a two-legged play-off will decide who makes the group phase. 

Elsewhere tonight, Glasgow City, coached by former Ireland assistant Eileen Gleeson, fell to a 3-1 loss to Roma. Clare Shine and Claire Walsh both started the game for Glasgow, while Emily Whelan came off the bench.

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