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Shelbourne are through to the semi-finals of the Só Hotels FAI Women’s Senior Cup as they defeated a spirited Cork City side 3-2 in Bishopstown on Sunday afternoon.

Following an enthralling first half which saw both sides earn the lead, it took a brilliant header from Jessica Gargan in the second half to seal Shelbourne’s place to the final four of the competition alongside Galway, Peamount United and Wexford Youths.

This was the fourth fixture between the sides this season and Shels have emerged victorious in the previous three with two coming in the Women’s National League and the other taking place in the League cup.

And Dave Bell’s side went close to taking the lead here inside the opening minutes but after racing onto a pass over the top of the Cork defence, Emily Whelan was unlucky to see her lob drift over the advancing keeper but wide of the empty net.

Shelbourne continued to dominate possession and they edged in front in the 11th minute thanks to an excellent strike from Rebecca Cooke.

The attacker secured possession just inside the penalty box and she expertly curled the ball over goalkeeper Maria O’Sullivan and into the roof of the net.

O’Sullivan kept her side in it with a couple of excellent stops moments later and Jess Ziu was desperately unlucky not to double her side’s advantage as her brilliantly controlled half volley clipped the outside of the right post.

City – who lifted the FAI Cup back in 2017 when the beat UCD Waves 1-0 at the Aviva Stadium - settled into the game following those near misses and they snatched an equaliser after 19 minutes.

Sophie Liston was the creator as her stunning cross from the right flank picked out Christina Dring in the area and the attacker superbly planted her header into the far bottom left corner.

Things got even better for the home side midway through the first period as they completed the turnaround thanks to a swift attacking move.

Saoirse Noonan’s unselfish pass found Dring in space inside the box and she instantly helped the ball into the path of the on running Eabha O’Mahony. And the Republic of Ireland senior international made no mistake, firing the ball home from a tight angle.

But Shelbourne again showed their quality as they again levelled the scores shortly before the half time break.

Rebecca Cooke’s cross from the right caused problems for the City defence and their keeper which allowed Alex Kavanagh to roll the ball across the line under pressure to make it 2-2 at the interval.

Rónán Collins’ side regrouped during half time and they almost retook the lead minutes after the restart.

Zara Foley’s sensational defence-splitting pass found Eabha O’Mahony in space but the winger’s thunderous shot crashed against the post before Foley powered the rebound just over the bar.

That moment proved to be decisive as it was the Dublin club who got the game’s fifth and crucial goal just past the hour. And it was Jessica Gargan who got it as the Shelbourne number two was picked out in front of goal and coolly looped a header in over the keeper.

City finished strongly as they went in search of a third equaliser and they almost got it through Saoirse Noonan, who twice worked the Shels shot-stopper Rachael Kelly late on, but it wasn’t to be their day as Shelbourne hung on to the win.

The two sides will meet for a fifth and final time this season as they again do battle in the Women’s National League this Sunday afternoon in Bishopstown.

Cork City: Maria O’Sullivan, Nathalie O’Brien, Ciara McNamara, Christina Dring, Eadaoin Lyons (Maggie Duncliffe 71), Kate McCarthy, Saoirse Noonan, Eabha O’Mahony, Zara Foley, Sophie Liston (Danielle Burke 62), Sarah Jones.

Shelbourne: Rachael Kelly, Jessica Gargan, Alex Kavanagh, Jessica Ziu, Emily Whelan, Kate Mooney, Alannah McEvoy, Isobeal Atkinson, Jenny McDade, Noelle Murray, Rebecca Cooke.

Referee: Jason Mannix.

 

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