Richard Callis Saoirse Noonan (file pic) was among the goals in the Championship.
# Irish Eye
Noonan, Agg and Grant on target as World Cup competition continues to heat up
There were plenty of performances of note over the weekend.

WHILE THE DOMESTIC league returned and Katie McCabe helped Arsenal to Conti Cup glory, there was no shortage of Irish interest elsewhere over the weekend.

There were several goal-scorers, with Saoirse Noonan and Lily Agg on target in the Championship and Ciara Grant scoring again in Scotland, and other notable performances as World Cup squad competition continues to heat up.

After recent penalty shootout success, Grace Moloney was back in goal for Reading as they moved up the Women’s Super League [WSL] table with a 2-1 win over West Ham at the Madejski Stadium.

Izzy Atkinson was a bright spark for the Hammers, making her impact felt from the bench once again with an excellent assist for the equaliser, but Reading grabbed an 85th-minute winner. Diane Caldwell was an unused substitute for the Royals, while Jess Ziu — currently recovering from an ACL injury — was there to support her West Ham team-mates.

Like Moloney, Ireland number one Courtney Brosnan was between the posts for Everton, but they fell to a 2-0 defeat to high-flying Aston Villa. Megan Finnigan, who the Irish Examiner reports is set to declare for the Girls In Green, scored an unfortunate own goal for the Toffees, while Ruesha Littlejohn came on for Villa in the 76th minute. 

Table-toppers Manchester United enjoyed a 5-1 win over Leicester City, with England star Alessia Russo hitting a hat-trick and newly-capped Ireland international Aoife Mannion an unused substitute.

Elsewhere in the WSL, Manchester City beat Tottenham 3-1, with Arsenal (Katie McCabe) and Liverpool (Niamh Fahey, Megan Campbell and Leanne Kiernan, though Fahey and Kiernan are both out injured), and Chelsea and Brighton & Hove Albion (Megan Connolly and Megan Walsh) due to face off on Wednesday night.

In the Championship, Noonan opened the scoring as Durham enjoyed a 5-1 win over Coventry City. The Cork striker played 70 minutes, with Naoisha McAloon producing another impressive performance in goal. Eleanor Ryan-Doyle, currently on loan from Birmingham City, was absent for Coventry, who remain rooted to the bottom of the table. Durham are eighth.

Agg’s 11th-minute opener proved little but a consolation as London City Lionesses’ title hopes suffered a significant blow. Sheffield United came from behind to win 2-1, as Bristol City stretched their lead at the top of the table to six points. Hayley Nolan, like Agg, played the full game for London City, while Kyra Carusa was introduced as a second-half substitute. 

london-city-lionesses-v-southampton-princes-park-stadium K Hodgson Lily Agg was on target for London City Lionesses. K Hodgson

Bristol, for whom Chloe Mustaki is out with a groin injury, continued their title charge with a 3-0 victory away to Crystal Palace, while Birmingham were 2-1 winners over Blackburn Rovers.

Harriet Scott was sent off for the Blues after being shown a second yellow card in the 89th minute. She, Louise Quinn and Jamie Finn all featured prominently for the home side, while Lucy Quinn was a second-half sub.

In Scotland, Grant continued her good from in Hearts’ 3-0 win at Glasgow Girls and Women. The Donegal midfielder scored directly from free-kick in the 83rd minute, capping a special day as she wore the captain’s armband. “Proud,” she wrote on Twitter afterwards.

Glasgow City extended their lead atop the table with a 1-0 win away to second-placed Celtic. Three Irish internationals played the full game, with Claire Walsh and Emily Whelan on the winning side and Claire O’Riordan and the Hoops left disappointed.

It was a Sunday to forget for Amber Barrett in Germany. The Donegal striker, who appeared on The Late Late Show on Friday night, missed a penalty after being introduced as a half-time substitute for Turbine Potsdam and they fell to a 3-0 defeat to MSV Duisburg. Potsdam are rock-bottom of the Frauen-Bundesliga with one point from 13 games.

Elsewhere, Tyler Toland was a an unused sub in Levante’s 4-2 win at Sevilla, and newly-capped Deborah Anne De La Harpe helped Sydney FC to a 3-0 victory over Western United.

Vera Pauw’s Ireland face world champions USA next month in a double-header of glamour international friendlies as preparations ramp up for their first-ever major tournament this summer.

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