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Heartbreak at the bitter end as shootout denies Peamount of huge Champions League shock

A cruel finish after James O’Callaghan’s side pushed Scottish giants Glasgow City all the way.

Peamount defender Niamh Farrelly (file pic).
Peamount defender Niamh Farrelly (file pic).
Image: Tommy Dickson/INPHO

Glasgow City 0

Peamount United 0

(Glasgow City win 6-5 on penalties at Broadhurst Stadium)

HEARTBREAK AT THE bitter end. A cruel finish, but that’s football unfortunately.

After 120 minutes where Ireland’s Uefa Women’s Champions League representatives Peamount left absolutely everything on the pitch and flew the flag with distinction, their European dream came to a disappointing end after a penalty shootout.

Ultimately, it was Glasgow goalkeeper Lee Helen Alexander who sent her side marching on, as most expected, after Peamount duo Lauryn O’Callaghan and Áine O’Gorman missed their spot kicks.

The sweetest way to win, the worst way to lose. Especially after such an incredible effort.

Captain O’Gorman asked her Peas side to play with “no fear” as they faced the all-conquering Scottish powerhouse — and that’s exactly what they did, inspired by heroics from goalkeeper and player-of-the-match Niamh Reid Burke.

Peamount believed they could get a result against Scotland’s 13-in-a-row champions on their home patch — and they so very nearly did. 

This was a very tall order for an amateur outfit against a full-time, though not yet fully professional, Glasgow, who reached the quarter-final stages last year, only to exit at the hands of eventual finalists Wolfsburg.

But Glasgow — home to Irish duo Tyler Toland, who came on, and Clare Shine, who was named on the bench — avoided a massive opening round shock, and now advance in the competition, while Peamount’s focus returns to the business end of the domestic season.

Europe was bonus territory, as they looked to repeat their feat of becoming the first-ever Irish team to clear the qualification hurdle in 2011 (Raheny, now Shelbourne, are the only others to do so) but it wasn’t to be this time around. 

Without Stephanie Roche in their matchday squad, James O’Callaghan’s side lined out with no other major surprises — though had 17-year-old Becky Watkins in for her senior debut. They set up to play football though, not park the bus as may other teams would have in their position.

james-ocallaghan Peamount boss James O'Callaghan. Source: Laszlo Geczo/INPHO

They started really well at Broadhurst Park, and absolutely held their own from early doors. The first real chances of this open game fell to the visitors through Eleanor Ryan Doyle, though she blazed the first over, and shortly after, linked up with fellow top scorer O’Gorman, and her headed effort called Alexander to action.

In the eighth minute, a mirrored attack followed at the other but Australian teenage striker Aoife Colvill headed wide off the back of Rachel McLauchlan’s cross. 

While Ryan Doyle pulled the strings as number 10, former Irish international Karen Duggan controlled proceedings around the middle, and Alannah McEvoy was a constant thorn in the hosts’ side down the left.

Sam Kerr was Glasgow’s key player, though they were left frustrated by Peas’ pressing and intense pressure, forcing them into mistakes. Despite a nervy free-kick that bounced across the face of Reid Burke’s goal, Peamount were creating the better of the chances and looked hungrier.

As the BBC Alba commentator said at one point, “Early on, you’d say they were the full-time team here…”

O’Gorman and McEvoy were the main creators, while Claire Walsh and Niamh Farrelly were rock-solid at the other end. Reid Burke was always a safe pair of hands, denying two quick-fire Kirsty Howatt efforts — though maybe she should have done better. 

While Peamount will have taken many positives from their first half performance, they struggled in the final third at times — though were certainly the happier side going in at half time with the scoreboard reading 0-0.

Donegal teenager Toland was sprung from the Glasgow bench on the restart, and she came as a breath of fresh air to James Booth’s midfield. The hosts came out much stronger and were on the front foot straight away.

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glasgow Glasgow's Irish duo Clare Shine and Tyler Toland. Source: PA/Inpho.

The tit-for-tat nature of the game continued in the second period, though Glasgow looked much livelier than in the first, putting the pressure on Reid Burke. The visitors kept threatening themselves though, half-chances falling to Duggan and Lucy McCartan, while O’Gorman was on target with a free-kick 

There were calls for a Peamount penalty at one point too, though they were muffled after the realisation hit that it wasn’t a handball as players originally thought. 

As the 70-minute mark approached, Glasgow laid siege on Reid Burke’s goal but all threats — one an optimistic Toland effort — were dealt with accordingly. From there, they attacked more and more, though Peamount stood firm.

Reid Burke produced a superb save as the game entered the final 10 minutes of normal save, getting her fingertips to the end of a dangerous chance from substitute Mairead Fulton. The Peas netminder was their hero as the clock ran down, answering every question that was asked of her, and she forced the game to extra-time with another fingertip save to deny a last-gasp Howatt effort.

With the visitors looking tired and questions raised on how they’d manage the added period, they came out lively with early offerings from substitute Megan Smyth Lynch and McCartan. 

Reid Burke’s exceptional form continued, as she cut out a dangerous attack led by McLauchlan and sent another threatening shot from Colvill over the bar, while O’Callaghan — the daughter of the manager — also made a vital interception in defence.

Chances at the other end were few and far between, though Peamount continued to work hard through this spell of Glasgow dominance. Early in the second half of extra-time, Smyth Lynch was to the fore for Peamount, winning a free in a decent position and taking it herself to no avail, before she was gifted a golden opportunity to win the game. 

Jo Love uncharacteristically sent a stray ball across her box and right towards her, but the Peas striker’s shot was panicked — and swept wide. Glasgow, likewise, made poor decisions before the posts with tired legs, as both sides chased the coveted winner.

niamh-reid-burke-prior-to-the-game Niamh Reid Burke excelled for Peamount. Source: Oisin Keniry/INPHO

Peamount showed exceptional character to hold on, and send the game to penalties after a monumental effort.

The first five were converted; Leanne Ross, Howatt and Crighton all hit home for Glasgow, while Smyth Lynch and McEvoy were on target for Peamount before O’Gorman’s gut-wrenching miss. 

Ryan Doyle nailed a pressure kick to keep the Greenogue outfit in the running after Fulton made no mistake with hers, while Reid Burke produced another stunning save to deny Love.

Duggan stepped up to level matters as the shootout entered sudden death territory; McLauchlan and Wyne both on target for the hosts, while Peas centre-back Walsh cooly converted hers.

But it all came to an abrupt close when Alexander saved O’Callaghan’s attempt, allowing Glasgow to breathe a sign of relief and sending the O’Callaghans and Peamount packing home.

GLASGOW CITY: Alexander; McLauchlan, Love, Ross, Wyne; Kerr (Foley, 95), Wojcik (Toland, HT), Crichton, Wade (Fulton, 71); Colvill, Howat. 

PEAMOUNT UNITED: Reid-Burke; O’Callaghan, Farrelly, Beirne (Doyle, 83), Walsh; O’Gorman, Duggan, McCartan; Watkins (Smyth Lynch, 73), McEvoy, Ryan Doyle.

Referee: Sabina Bolic.

***

Elsewhere tonight, Northern Ireland’s representatives Linfield suffered a heavy 8-0 defeat to Anderlecht in Brussells.

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Emma Duffy

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