Murray: “We’re delighted now that we’ve made it to the semis of the All-Island Cup”

By Gina Bagnulo

Shelbourne FC set up a mouth watering Dublin Derby with Shamrock Rovers in the last four of the All Island Cup. Eoin Wearen’s Reds faced Athlone Town AFC 2-1 in the quarter finals last Saturday..

Despite their victory, the Reds had a rough start to the game as Athlone’s Casey Howe gave her team an early lead, scoring just fifteen minutes into the first half.

As the match continued, it was clear Shels ramped up their offense with Christie Gray who played an integral part on the wing, causing chaos as the Reds main attacking threat.

Even though the Reds were behind 1-0 for the majority of the first half, Shelbourne’s hard work paid off when Noelle Murray scored during the four minutes of additional time off the back of an assist from Christie Gray and a long ball from Shels keeper Amanda McQuillan.

The sides went into the break level at 1-1. Athlone were keen to gain the upper hand and displayed this determination with several dangerous crosses and a number of corner kicks, but the Reds were equal to the pressure and defended well.

Athlone’s hopes of victory were dashed when Noelle Murray scored the winning goal for Shelbourne in the closing minutes of the game when a long ball from Amanda McQuillan caught out the Athlone defence, Murray calmly controlled before rounding the keeper and slotting it gracefully into the back of the net, much to the delight of the Ballybough End faithful. This gave the Reds another victory and extended their overall winning streak to nine games. Their win against Athlone also takes Shelbourne to the semi-finals of the All-Island Cup.

Shelbourne FC Women head coach Eoin Wearen expressed his delight with the big quarter-final win:

“I’m really happy with the group and every single member of the squad. You know, we made changes today with the starting eleven, what a fantastic performance, it was a warm day, it was an end to end game. It was a slog at times, you know, the impact that the subs have made once again just proves the strength of the squad that we have so you know, delighted overall with the performance and the result.”

Compared to the competition posed by other Irish teams, Athlone have proven themselves to be a formidable opponent for Shels, having drawn against the Reds the last time the two teams went head to head in the Women’s Premier Division (WPD) and winning against Shelbourne to claim the WFAI Cup in November 2023.

Speaking of the history of competitiveness between Shelbourne and Athlone, Wearen clarified if this impacted player placement for the All-Island Cup match:

“I made the changes because I felt the players that we brought in deserved the play and maybe there was one or two that needed a rest as well that have played a lot over the last few weeks. When you play against Athlone you need to make sure that you’re right on it so whatever eleven players we pick, you’re in for a tough game and nothing short of one hundred percent will do to get a result. I knew that I have trust and belief in the players and whatever players we picked, that the result and performance would be the same.”

Noelle Murray, who scored a brace to send Shels into the last four, reflected on the match result:

“Look, I’m happy I scored. Everyone’s happy with the final result of the game, delighted now that we’ve made it to the semis of the All-Island Cup and I think it was a great performance from everybody.”

On the competition between Shels and Athlone Murray said:

“Yeah look, it’s never an easy game, I think it’s two great teams, well coached, well set up. So, I think it’s always a great battle between us, it’s always a tight game, no one ever runs away with it. But i’m just happy today that it was the quarter finals of the cup and we managed to get the win and reach the semi final now.”

Separate from the All-Island Cup, going forward in the WPD, Shels are set to play Wexford FC on July 6 at Tolka Park

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