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Shelbourne continued their recent unbeaten run thanks to a hard-fought one-goal win over DLR Waves at a sun-kissed Tolka Park.

Alex Kavanagh's header on the hour was the difference between the sides after she headed home a Jess Gargan cross from the right.

Having dropped two points last time out against Kilkenny United, DLR Waves went into the game as clear underdogs – and rightly so, given the Reds imperious home form this year at Tolka Park.

The Reds enjoyed a bright start and almost took an early lead as Noelle Murray's cross almost went straight into the net from the by-line, but Roisin McGovern was on hand to keep the ball out.

Emily Whelan then went close minutes later, but she was unable to steer her effort home, with a grateful Sophie Lenehan saving comfortably in the end.

Dave Bell's side continued to probe, with Jess Gargan and Whelan combining well on the right hand side. The ball then fell to Alex Kavanagh, but she was unable to convert for the hosts.

Whelan was proving a real threat on the right flank but was unable to see her efforts hit the back of the net, as Lenehan picked up the ball comfortably following the wingers low drive.

With Isibeal Atkinson tearing down the left flank, it almost appeared inevitable that Bell's side would take the lead, however, they very nearly went in behind at the break.

Captain Catherine Cronin got free on the left, before turning into the penalty area. She then tried to turn home but was thwarted by a combination of a good defence and fortune on Shelbourne's part.

Fiona Donnelly then went close moments after as her effort on goal was saved comfortably by Rachael Kelly with Graham Kelly's underdogs finishing out the opening period in positive fashion.

The hosts began the second half from where they left off, dominating much of the possession and territory, but crucially, they were unable to force an opener early on in the second half.

Dominating with a high press, the Reds ought to have taken the lead through Whelan who was causing issues on the wing once. The attacker burst through before curling her effort just wide of goal.

Murray, who had a brief cameo in goal last week against Limerick, then went close with an attempted lob from just inside the area, but her effort just went over the bar.

The Reds were soon rewarded for their invention as Kavanagh headed home on the hour mark from a Jess Gargan delivery on the right.

Title-chasing Shelbourne then almost grabbed a second minutes later as Murray saw her her thundering strike crash off the crossbar, with Lenehan beaten all ends up.

It was exhibition stuff from then on from the hosts as Jamie Finn really should have made it two after a superb passage of play that saw Waves pierced open.

Substitute Rebecca Cooke then went close just under fifteen minutes to play but Kelly's young side held firm with keeper Lenehan proving her worth between the sticks.

The game petered out somewhat as the final whistle approached, with the Reds securing a vital three points ahead of the visit of league leaders Peamount United to the Richmond Road next week.

Shelbourne FC: Rachael Kelly; Jamie Finn, Jessica Gargan, Rachel Graham, Alex Kavanagh, Chloe Mustaki, Pearl Slattery, Jessica Ziu; Isibeal Atkinson (Rebecca Cooke, 60), Noelle Murray, Emily Whelan (Kate Mooney, 79).

DLR Waves: Sophie Lenehan; Katie Burdis (Jenny O'Keefe, 67), Fiona Donnelly (Sophie O'Donoghue, 79), Nicole Keogh, Roisin McGovern, Niamh Prior; Orla Casey, Nadine Clare, Ally O'Keeffe; Catherine Cronin, Rachel Doyle (Sinead Gaynor, h/t).

Referee: Orla Devaney.

 

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