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It was honours even in Ferrycarrig Park on Saturday evening, as the big guns battled it out in a high-octane Continental Tyres Women's National League encounter.

Wexford Youths came close to plundering a goal that would have tightened their grip at the top of the table on occasion, although Shelbourne were full value for the point earned as they pressed forward until the final whistle.

Chances were few and far between in an even first half, although Shelbourne came close to shooting themselves in the foot on 24 minutes when a rushed clearance from goalkeeper Amanda McQuillan ricocheted off Jamie Finn and squirmed inches wide of the right upright.

Becky Cassin tried her luck for the home side shortly before the interval, but scooped her shot from the edge of the area narrowly over the top.

Shelbourne almost made the ideal start to the second half, when Siobhan Killeen latched on to a slack kick-out from Sophie Lenehan and lifted her effort just over the crossbar.

On 53 minutes Katrina Parrock did well to plunder possession, before teeing up Becky Cassin, whose long-range shot drifted wide of the right post.

A minute later, the Slaneysiders introduced Claire O'Riordan and Aisling Frawley, who had been on duty with the Irish team at the World University Games in Taipei, to the fray, and their arrival seemed to add an extra pep to their step.

Amanda McQuillan had to be at her best to keep Wexford out in the 63rd minute, diving full length to deny Becky Cassin, who took Aisling Frawley's pass in her stride and hit a first-time shot that look destined for the net.

From the resulting corner the hosts threatened again, when Edel Kennedy met Emma Hansbery's delivery with a wicked volley that flew narrowly wide.

On 70 minutes it was the turn of the Wexford defence to endure an anxious moment, when Niamh Prior sent a teasing cross across the face 

of goal, but nobody could apply the vital touch.

Neither side were content to settle for a draw in the latter stages, and Shelbourne, in particular, went in search of a priceless winning goal that would put them right back in the title race.

However, with Shels throwing caution to the wind, the hosts twice went close to winning it.

Emma Hansbery broke clear in the 83rd minute, but her shot was straight at McQuillan and then, deep into injury time, the inrushing Kylie Murphy met a right-wing cross from Hansbery but blazed her effort off target.

Wexford Youths: Sophie Lenehan, Nicola Sinnott, Orlaith Conlon, Jess Gleeson, Lauren Dwyer, Kylie Murphy (capt.), Becky Cassin, Edel Kennedy, Linda Douglas, Emma Hansbery, Katrina Parrock. Subs. - Claire O'Riordan for Parrock (54), Aisling Frawley for Douglas (54), Orla Casey for Cassin (83), also Jenny O'Keeffe, Sadbh McCarthy, Rianna Jarrett, Aoibhin Webb.

Shelbourne: Amanda McQuillan, Niamh Prior, Seana Cooke, Pearl Slattery (capt.), Rachel Graham, Fiona Donnelly, Alex Kavanagh, Roma McLoughlin, Siobhan Killeen, Jamie Finn, Gloria Douglas. Subs. - Lynn Craven for McLoughlin (51), Allanah McEvoy for Donnelly (79), Sophie Watters for Killeen (87), also Niamh Walsh, Rachel Kelly, Chloe McNamee, Lynn Craven, Isibeal Atkinson.

Referee: Nicholas Boland.

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