Stalemate at Santry as two title favorites, Shelbourne Ladies and UCD Waves played out a high quality 1-1 draw at Morton Stadium.
Despite a slow start to the season for Shels, claiming just one point from their opening two games and what some were already calling a must win for the Champions, took on the Waves who were putting their 100% record on the line.
In a hugely entertaining clash, it was UCD who came flying out of the traps with Julie-Ann Russell causing all sorts of trouble, finding space in the hole between the Shelbourne midfield and defence. And with just five minutes on the clock the pacey forward made a bursting run into the box only to be hauled down by Tiegan Ruddy. Aine O’Gorman coolly slotted the resulting spot kick into the side netting giving Amanda McQuillan no chance.
This seemed to wake the reigning champions up and started looking good in possession through Alex Kavanagh and Roma McLoughlin, and just 10 minutes later got themselves back on level terms. A dangerous in-swinging corner from Siobhan Killeen was eventually bundled home by skipper Pearl Slattery despite Clair Walsh’s best attempts to clear.
Both teams settled into their rhythm from then on and Shels winger Killeen looking a threat throughout, but right on the stroke of half time, birthday girl Emily Cahill was unlucky not to give the Waves the lead when she headed onto the bar from a drilled O’Gormon corner.
The second half started in the same vein with both teams having chances, Shels stopper McQuillan saved well from O’Gorman after an excellent through ball from Russell. Alex Kavanagh had a couple of half chances for the home side. Clair Walsh missed a guilt edged chance in the 69th minute, somehow finding herself free in a crowded box but McQuillan got down sharp to save as UCD began to dominate the game.
As the visitors pressed and looked for the winner, the classy Tiegan Ruddy showed some excellent composure on the ball building from the back and snuffing out the threat as the game drew to a close.
Tonight’s result proves that the Continental Tyres WN league will be a fascinatingly close title race that looks set to go the distance with not much between the two quality sides.
Shelbourne: 16. Amanda McQuillan, 4. Pearl Slattery (c), 5. Tiegan Ruddy, 6. Alex Kavanagh, 10. Roma McLoughlin, 11. Siobhan Killeen, 12. Jamie Finn, 13. Courtney Higgins, 14 Niamh Prior, 15. Fiona Donnelly (17. Kate Mooney), 19. Lynn Craven
Subs: 1. Niamh Reid Burke, 7. Leann Kiernan, 8. Rachal Graham, 17. Kate Mooney, 18. Chloe McNamee, 22. Carla Moran
UCD Waves: 22. Brooke Dunne, 2. Jetta Berrill, 3. Karen Duggan, 4. Clair Walsh, 5. Rebekah Carroll, 6. Emily Cahill, 7. Julieann Russell, 8.Dearbhaile Beirne, 9. Aine O’Gorman (c), 10. Orlagh Nolan, 11. Catherine Cronin (16. Lauren Kelly)
Subs: 1.Erica Turner, 13. Sinead Gaynor, 14. Naimi Chemaou, 16. Lauren Kelly, 17. Sophie O’Donoghue, 18 Kerri Letmon, 20 Katie Burdis
Player of the Match: Tiegan Ruddy