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Shelbourne's European dream ends but two late goals mean it finishes on a high

The Dublin side finished second in their Champions League qualifying group, after a 3-1 win over Linfield.

Unbeaten: Shelbourne finished second in their group.
Unbeaten: Shelbourne finished second in their group.
Image: Donall Farmer/INPHO

Updated 19.17

Shelbourne 3

Linfield 1

SHELBOURNE HIT TWO late goals to ensure they finished second in their 2017/18 Uefa Women’s Champions League qualifying group, and that they end their European campaign unbeaten.

Just the top side in each group qualify for the Round of 32 of this year’s tournament, with Poland’s Medik Konin progressing from Group 4.

After two 0-0 draws with Konin and Finland’s PK-35 Vantaa, as well as today’s win over Linfield, the Dublin outfit finish second in the group with five points in total — but not enough to be considered the best second-placed team across all ten groups.

Shaun Maher’s side ended a hard-fought campaign on a high, as they beat the Northern Irish champions 3-1 in Seaview, Belfast this evening.

In an even and tense affair, Shelbourne sprung to life in the second half and it was Fiona Donnelly who broke the deadlock after 63 minutes of football. The Ireland U19 international found the back of the net after Jamie Finn’s effort hit the post.

After taking the lead, the Red Pandas began to grow in confidence, and dominate in all areas.

But the hosts equalised through Megan Bell with 83 minutes on the clock.

Usually a centre-back, Niamh Walsh was introduced from the bench shortly after, but she slotted into an attacking role and had a heavy influence as Shelbourne went in search of a winner.

It came with two minutes of normal time to spare, as Kate Mooney smashed home a superb low strike from 25-yards.

And they didn’t stop there. Niamh Prior had the last say, as Finn assisted to put the icing on the cake and end their side’s European campaign on a high.

The reigning double champions can draw huge positives from the club’s first Champions League campaign, and hold their heads high after an impressive week in Belfast.

Shelbourne’s focus now switches again to domestic matters, as they face a trip to league leaders Wexford Youths on Saturday as we hit the business end of the Women’s National League.

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