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Wexford Youths crowned FAI Cup champions again, denying Shelbourne double in style

Lynn Marie Grant, Kylie Murphy and Edel Kennedy scored the Wexford goals, while 17-year-old Irish international Ellen Molloy was irresistible throughout.

Wexford Youths captain fantastic Kylie Murphy at the heart of the celebrations after her side's first goal.
Wexford Youths captain fantastic Kylie Murphy at the heart of the celebrations after her side's first goal.
Image: Laszlo Geczo/INPHO

Wexford Youths 3

Shelbourne 1

AND SO, THE Cup Specialists stay The Cup Specialists.

Wexford Youths were crowned Evoke.ie FAI Cup champions once again, after denying Shelbourne the 2021 double following their dramatic league success last weekend.

Lynn Marie Grant, Kylie Murphy and Edel Kennedy scored the goals as Stephen Quinn’s side were 3-1 winners at Tallaght Stadium, with 17-year-old Irish international Ellen Molloy irresistible throughout her Player-of-the-Match winning display.

The curtain came down on the Kilkenny youngster’s evening in a disappointing manner, however, as she was forced to limp off in injury time, meaning concern for Vera Pauw ahead of this week’s crucial international double-header.

With a record crowd of 3,053 watching on, Wexford’s captain fantastic Murphy lifted the silverware for the fourth time, adding to the Slaneysiders’ titles from 2015, 2018, and 2019.

This was the third cup final the sides have met in (Wexford winning in ’15, and Shels in ’16) and the fourth time they locked horns in 2021 (a win a-piece, and a draw played out before today).

The Shelbourne ultras made their presence felt with pyro and chants from early on. It took some time for the game to catch fire, though, until two opposing Grants ensured there were two goals before half time.

Up to that point, clear-cut chances were at a premium, though Noel King’s side enjoyed more possession and were that bit more creative in attack.

Just three minutes in, Saoirse Noonan cut loose in the box and was hauled down, only to be deemed to have come from an offside position. Shortly after, both captains, Pearl Slattery and Murphy harmlessly clashed, with a worrying moment thereafter as the Wexford Youths skipper hit her head off the ground. Murphy was fit to continue, and flashed an effort just wide in the minutes which followed. That – along with a tame Molloy shot – was Youths’ main opportunity in the first until Grant’s opener, with Ciamh Grey the busier goalkeeper of the two thereafter.

Jessie Stapleton and Jess Ziu linked up to threaten on several occasions, as Shelbourne got their slick passing game underway. The challenges started flying in, too. The Shels ultras loved Slattery’s perfect interception on Molloy, and questioned the fact that Nicola Sinnott escaped a yellow card for a crunching tackle on Stapleton.

Sinnott and Lauren Dwyer – returning from a hamstring niggle – were solid for Wexford at the back, along with ‘keeper Grey, who got down nicely to keep Noonan out after the Cork native let fly from the right-hand edge of the box, and later, comfortably denied Rachel Graham.

Things spiced up just after the half-hour minute mark, when Slattery saw yellow for a challenge on Molloy. Ciara Rossiter sent the resultant free-kick into the area; Shels’ attempt at clearing the danger falling to Lynn Marie Grant on the edge of the box, and her hopeful effort looped over Amanda Budden.

After a quick celebration, all 10 outfield players came back in together – most likely for a few calming words from Murphy.

While Wexford’s confidence grew, Shels bounced right back. In the 39th minute, the ever-lively Ziu let fly after excellent work down the left, but her shot to ricochet off the post. Ciara Grant was there to turn it in and make it 1-1.

Either side of the break, Molloy really started to grow into the game; playing some stunning passes and really finding her range. It was her magic on the restart that led to Murphy’s 50th-minute goal. A brilliant turn found her some space and allowed her to send a pin-point ball into the captain, who volleyed home.

Things turned stop-start from there: breaks in play, first, for Reds ‘keeper Budden to receive in-game treatment, and then for Orlaith Conlon, who limped off after a the stretcher was called. The one small consolation for Conlon was her tackle was a brave, goal-stopping one.

Shelbourne layed siege on Gray’s goal, the game opening up as King’s side went in search of an equaliser. Noelle Murray was one bright spark, in particular, but Wexford – down to 10 as they sorted a substitution for injured goal-scorer Grant – continued to probe, and pull together for an immense second-half showing.

Almost out of nothing, after a lull in play, Edel Kennedy scored an absolute screamer to make it 3-1 in the 74th minute.

Having played in goals in last weekend’s league clash between the sides, she stood up with an absolute rocket off the back of more great work from Molloy.

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Wexford upped the ante from there, playing some beautiful team football down the home straight, as the tables turned and they did what Shels did to them earlier.

Naturally, they were forced to defend more and more, but they almost sealed the deal earlier with a fourth goal, only for Rossiter to blaze over. 

While there were some half-chances at the other end – Abbie Larkin was a lively threat from the bench – Molloy almost had a goal of her own too, when she broke away deep into injury time and was innocuously challenged in the box.

The curtain came down on her involvement then.

But the celebrations will surely numb the pain of whatever injury she sustained, though, ‘championes, championes’ and ‘Youths, Youths, Youths,’ ringing out around the ground as the trophy lift got underway.

 Shelbourne: Amanda Budden; Jess Gargan (Abbie Larkin, 80), Pearl Slattery, Shauna Fox , Chloe Mustaki; Jessica Ziu, Ciara Grant, Rachel Graham (Alex Kavanagh, 80), Jessie Stapleton; Noelle Murray, Saoirse Noonan.

Wexford Youths: Ciamh Gray; Della Doherty, Lauren Dwyer, Nicola Sinnott, Orlaith Conlon (Lynn Craven, 59 – inj); Lynn Marie Grant (Teegan Lynch, 73 -inj), Edel Kennedy, Aoibheann Clancy, Ellen Molloy (Sinead Taylor, 94), Ciara Rossiter; Kylie Murphy.

Referee: Paula Brady.

About the author:

Emma Duffy  / reports from Tallaght Stadium

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