Women’s Premier Division



Defending Women’s Premier Division (WPD) champions Peamount Utd worked hard for a crucial 2-0 victory against Sligo Rovers, with late goals in each half at PRL Park on Saturday.

The form book suggested that the hosts would win, but the Dublin women had to wait until the 83rd minute for that vital second goal, which gave them some breathing space in a contest they dictated for the most part.

Goals from Freya Healy in the 40th minute and Ellen Dolan seven minutes from time helped Peamount maintain fourth place in the table, some seven points adrift of leaders Athlone Town as the race for the title hit the midway point of the season.

There is perhaps some irony in the fact that the former Athlone Town boss Tommy Hewitt, the man who molded the Westmeath club into shape during a lengthy tenure until midway through last season, is now tasked with a similar challenge for Sligo Rovers.

The Bit O’Red entered and exited this encounter without a WPD win this season, but there was no evidence of any lack of self-belief among the players throughout a battling 90 minutes as the determination and character that are hallmarks of the side were clearly visible.

However, what was really evident was the contrast between the teams in terms of physicality and experience.

Peamount are the current WPD champions and will be heading for a European joust at Champions League qualification shortly, while the Sligo Rovers players are at the foothills of a League of Ireland journey that is focused on developing local talent.

On Saturday, Peamount had a decent chance in the 15th minute when a Dolan strike was well saved by the impressive Amber Hardy, who had an excellent outing and produced a string of spectacular stops.

At the other end, there was a warning for the hosts some four minutes later when the Bit O’Red produced a flowing move down the right that created an opening for Emma Doherty. Her effort shaved the outside of the post to the relief of Peamount custodian Niamh Reid-Burke.

As the scoreboard remained blank, Hardy then produced the save of the match in the 30th minute.

The Bit O’Red netminder deflected Karen Duggan’s goal-bound effort out for a corner with assistance from the woodwork, but there was nothing she could do when Healy finished low to the net soon after to give the hosts a merited 1-0 interval lead.

The pattern of the game was similar after the resumption, but Sligo Rovers coped better with the Peamount pressure and had big performances from teenage defender Keeva Flynn, who was ably assisted by Kelsey Munroe, Kelly Crompton, and Muireann Devaney in what was an overall hard-working team display.

The second Peamount goal came near the end when Dolan powered a header to the net following a good move down the right that produced a superb Becky Watkins cross.

That made the game safe for the James O’Callaghan-managed side, who will have another home game next weekend against Cork City, while Sligo Rovers will be the odd side out in the 11-team WPD with an idle Saturday.

Peamount Utd – Niamh Reid-Burke; Lauryn O’Callaghan, Chloe Moloney, Jetta Berrill, Rebecca Watkins, Erin McLaughlin, Freya Healy, Ellen Dolan, Karen Duggan, Dearbhaille Beirne, Ciara Maher.
Sub – Louise Masterson for McLaughlin 85 mins.

Sligo Rovers – Amber Hardy; Sarah Kiernan, Kelsey Munroe, Keeva Flynn, Eimear Lafferty, Kelly Crompton, Muireann Devaney, Zoe McGlynn, Keri Loughrey, Emma Doherty, Cara King.
Subs – Anna McDaniel for King and Leah Kelly for Munroe both 75 mins, Rebecca McGoldrick for McGlynn 80 mins, Katie Melly for Loughrey and Lauren Devaney for Kiernan both 88 mins.

Referee – Niall McLoughlin.

Assistant referees – Rob Clarke, Wayne McDonnell.