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Kelly inspires Wexford Youths to FAI Cup title defence in five-goal thriller at the Aviva

Player of the Match Lauren Kelly was on the double, while captain Kylie Murphy also helped the holders past league champions Peamount.

Wexford Youths 3 

Peamount United 2

A BRILLIANT DOUBLE from Player of the Match Lauren Kelly and a third from captain Kylie Murphy ensured Wexford Youths successfully defended their FAI Cup crown against Peamount United at the Aviva Stadium.

lauren-kelly-celebrates-scoring-the-first-goal-of-the-game-with-her-teammates Wexford celebrating one of Lauren Kelly's two goals. Source: Ryan Byrne/INPHO

A repeat of the 2018 final which Wexford won 1-0, there were brilliant scenes of joy at the final whistle as Tom Elmes’ side celebrated a huge win after an underwhelming season.

All the momentum was with Peamount coming into this one. They were crowned 2019 Women’s National League champions last Saturday night after dominating throughout. 

While James O’Callaghan’s Dubliners were seeking redemption following last year’s cup final loss at the Lansdowne Road venue, Wexford were on a revenge mission themselves as they looked to define a disappointing season with some silverware.

Kelly came back to haunt her former club, and was the star turn in a pulsating five-goal encounter, in which Wexford went into the lead three times and Peamount levelled matters twice.

The holders had the dream start on the biggest day of the domestic women’s football calendar as Kelly rattled the net with just three minutes on the clock. The Dubliner happily took advantage of a Peamount defensive mix-up and slotted home. 

With Wexford in the driving seat, the league champions responded accordingly with former Ireland international Áine O’Gorman, Eleanor Ryan-Doyle and Megan Smyth-Lynch heaping on the pressure.

claire-walsh-and-rihanna-jarrett Jarrett facing Claire Walsh. Source: Ryan Byrne/INPHO

Finding feet on the big stage and ridding oneselves of nerves early on is obviously important, and both sides did that fairly quickly. Kelly’s strike understandably allowed Youths settle quicker, but James O’Callaghan’s Peas battled hard and soon showed their class.

Ireland star Rianna Jarrett was a constant threat for Wexford, and a nice dual between herself and Karen Duggan soon developed, with plenty of bite in the challenges going in. Likewise, there were boos around the ground as Edel Kennedy and Smyth-Lynch collided around the middle, the former appearing to stamp on the Peamount star.

There was a lull for a period, but the game well and truly sparked to life once again as the clock turned 32 minutes. 

Duggan levelled matters with an excellent effort. After a scramble on the edge of the box,  the Kilkenny woman stole the ball, expertly turned and fired past Ciamh Dolland from 20 yards.

The Peamount party was spoiled mere seconds later, however, with an equally stunning Kelly goal at the other end. After nice work from Ciara Rossiter and captain Kylie Murphy in the build-up, she curled one past Niamh Reid-Burke on the half-volley to make it 2-1.

It looked like the first half may have just petered out after that excitement, but no, two minutes later O’Gorman brought an ‘oooh’ from the crowd as she had a pop from just inside the box and it rattled the crossbar.

Peamount came out after the break pushing for an equaliser while Wexford sat deep again with Jarrett up top. But the relentless pressure from Peas paid dividends just seven minutes after the restart as Ryan-Doyle cleverly spotted an opening from distance and fired home accordingly.

That goal was pretty inevitable, and credit must go to Ryan-Doyle who caught Dolland off her line for another great goal at the Aviva.

With little between the sides, the next goal was indeed vital. 

And it was Murphy who finished off a lovely Wexford team move in the 64th minute to put one hand on the trophy once again. The Carlow native was played through the middle by Jarrett, and she slotted home accordingly to send Wexford on their way.

O’Callaghan’s Peamount went in search of the vital equaliser from there, Claire Walsh and Ryan-Doyle coming closest but Dolland was solid between the posts to keep them out.

lauren-kelly-celebrates-scoring-the-first-goal-of-the-game-with-kylie-murphy-and-ciara-rossiter Kelly, Murphy and Rossiter celebrate. Source: Ryan Byrne/INPHO

Likewise, Reid-Burke was impressive at the other end, keeping Jarrett and substitute McKenna Davidson at bay. Jarrett was excellent as the clock ran down and was so unlucky as the clock turned 83, the post denying her rocket of an effort. 

She was a joy to watch all afternoon, and the crowd’s reaction every time she got on the ball said it all. While Peamount never gave up, Wexford definitely dominated proceedings in the dying minutes and came close to adding a fourth.

But the Slaneysiders will be happy enough with the three as they defended their crown in style.

Peamount United: Niamh Reid-Burke, Lauryn O’Callaghan (Niamh Barnes, 67), Dearbhaile Beirne, Louise Corrigan, Claire Walsh, Karen Duggan, Niamh Farrelly, Lucy McCartan (Naima Chemaou, 53), Eleanor Ryan-Doyle, Aine O’Gorman, Megan Smyth-Lynch.

Wexford Youths: Ciamh Dollard, Lynn Craven, Orlaith Conlon, Lauren Dwyer, Nicola Sinnott, Edel Kennedy, Aisling Frawley (Blessing Kingsley, 84), Kylie Murphy, Rianna Jarrett, Lauren Kelly, Ciara Rossiter (McKenna Davidson, 60).

Referee: Sarah Dyas.

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About the author:

Emma Duffy  / Reports from the Aviva Stadium

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