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A winner-takes-all showdown but three contenders - WNL going right down to the wire
After a dramatic penultimate round of fixtures, it’s all eyes on Saturday.

aine-walsh-celebrates-scoring-her-sides-third-goal-with-kylie-murphy Ryan Byrne / INPHO Celebrations after Wexford Youths' all-important equaliser on Saturday. Ryan Byrne / INPHO / INPHO

AS EXPECTED, THE Women’s National League is going right down to the wire once again.

Three teams remain in the title race ahead of Saturday’s final round of fixtures.

The meeting of Wexford Youths and Shelbourne at Ferrycarrig Park is effectively winner-takes-all, while Athlone Town are also in with a chance as they travel to Bohemians.

Reigning champions Shels moved to top spot on Saturday; their win over Sligo Rovers paired with Wexford and Peamount’s thrilling six-goal draw sending them to the summit.

By the minimum. Wexford, table-toppers in recent weeks and former heavyweights, are one point back, with relative newcomers and high-flying Athlone, another further adrift.

As it stands…

  • Shelbourne — 57 points
  • Wexford Youths — 56 points
  • Athlone Town — 55 points

Final day fixtures

Saturday, 29 October 29

  • Wexford Youths v Shelbourne, Ferrycarrig Park, 5:20pm – live on TG4
  • Bohemians v Athlone Town, Dalymount Park, 5:20pm – live on LOI TV
  • Galway United v Peamount United, Eamonn Deacy Park, 5:20pm – live on LOI TV
  • Treaty United v Cork City, Markets Field, 1pm – live on LOI TV
  • Sligo Rovers v DLR Waves, The Showgrounds, 3pm – live on LOI TV

(Note: all fixtures were due to kick-off simultaneously but have since been spread out.)

A closer look at permutations

  • A Shelbourne or Wexford win will crown either team champions.
  • A Shelbourne and Wexford draw coupled with an Athlone win gives a Shelbourne-Athlone play-off.
  • A Wexford and Shelbourne draw coupled with an Athlone loss or draw crowns Shelbourne champions.

A review of the penultimate round of fixtures

Saturday was a Women’s National League matchday which had it all, with drama in abundance. A four-way title race was narrowed down to three after an unforgettable 3-3 draw between Wexford and Peamount.

The TG4 cameras were at PRL Park, Greenogue for one of the games of the season, a classic that will be remembered for years to come. Peas needed a win to keep their title hopes alive, Wexford were aiming for the same with four points delivering their first title since 2018, but a draw was the end result.

Teenager Aine Walsh was Wexford’s late hero as she levelled matters at the very death of a thrilling battle. Jess Lawler had edged them in front early on, before Chloe Moloney levelled matters to leave it 1-1 at half time. 

An unfortunate own goal put Peamount in front on 54 minutes, and a stunning Kylie Murphy headed equaliser ensured a nail-biting finish. Sadhbh Doyle looked to have kept Peamount’s hopes alive in the 78th minute, but Walsh and Wexford had the final say through a helter-skelter finish.

It, perhaps, summed up the season so far, with no shortage of twists and turns, and different teams in ascendency at different stages.

Earlier in the day, Shelbourne got their own job done with a 2-0 win over Sligo Rovers. Ireland teenage star Abbie Larkin scored both goals in their final Tolka Park outing for the season.

abbie-larkin Evan Treacy / INPHO Abbie Larkin. Evan Treacy / INPHO / INPHO

And likewise, Athlone Town stuck to their task and keep their double dream alive — they face Shels in the FAI Cup final on 6 November. Muireann Devaney was on target with the decisive 24th-minute goal which sealed a home win over Galway.

Elsewhere, DLR Waves put basement side Treaty United to the sword with a 7-0 win, and Bohemians enjoyed a narrow win at Cork City. Kate Mooney (two), Kerri Letmon (two), Nicole Keogh, Katie Malone and Shauna Carroll were DLR’s goal-scorers, while Abbie Brophy sealed the deal for Bohs with a 90th-minute winner.

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There’s a serious buzz around Irish women’s football at the moment after Vera Pauw’s side historically secured World Cup qualification, and that should filter through to the domestic league, particularly given the thrilling finale which lies ahead.

Of the most recent squad from the monumental play-off win over Scotland, four players play domestically — Shels duo Larkin and Keeva Keenan, Peamount legend Áine O’Gorman, and DLR Waves goalkeeper Eve Badana — while so many who star overseas now started out in the WNL.

It’s all eyes on Saturday now, the last word going to Wexford’s legendary captain Kylie Murphy.

“We’ll go again, we’ll give it everything we have,” she said moments after the dramatic draw with Peamount. “Shels are another amazing team.

“At the end of the day, what will be will be. If it’s to be, we’ll win it. If it’s not, we won’t.

“But by God, we’ll push to the very end.”

No doubt all three teams will as the WNL goes right down to the wire.

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