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Captain Amber Barrett led from the front in every sense as she scored a hat-trick as Peamount United had far too much for Kilkenny United in their Continental Tyres WNL clash at Greenogue.

The comfortable victory for James O’Callaghan’s title favourites puts them top of the table, overnight at least.

Though Kilkenny started purposefully, Peamount soon found their rhythm to take control, forcing three corners before opening the scoring on 17 minutes.

Midfielder Lucy McCartan let fly with a speculative shot from some distance which cannoned back off the Cats’ crossbar. Experienced Ireland international Aine O’Gorman was fully alert to the rebound to head home.

McCartan and O’Gorman were instrumental in Peamount doubling their lead on the half hour.

O’Gorman turned adroitly from McCartan’s pass to thread the ball through for the run of Barrett who found the net with a crisp right-foot shot.

Not unexpectedly, Kilkenny keeper Niamh Coombes was busy between her posts.

But she rose gallantly to the challenge, making good saves to deny both Darren Duggan, who shot from long-range, and then O’Gorman, after she raced in behind to shoot from a tight angle, having worked a clever one-two with Barrett.

Cats were close to pulling a goal back inside the opening minute of the second half.

Colleen Rickards found space on the right to cross for Carla McManus whose first time shot arrowed narrowly wide.

Normal service soon resumed at the other end, Duggan headeding over from an O’Gorman cross before Peamount extended their lead on 52 minutes.

Barrett collected a throw-in on the right and was allowed run across the edge of the visitors’ penalty area unchallenged before striking a low left-footer to the corner of the net for her second goal of the game.

Two minutes later Coombes saved a header from Barrett with McCartan hitting the crossbar for the second time in the match as Kilkenny struggled to clear.

The hat-trick for last season’s Player of the Year and Golden Boot winner Barrett arrived on 79 minutes.

Put through from substitute Eleanor Ryan-Doyle’s pass, the Republic of Ireland striker kept calm to lob Coombes for a composed finish.

The woodwork then denied the rampant Barrett a fourth goal three minutes from time.

Peamount United: Reid-Burke; O’Callaghan (Reddy, 64), Barnes, Walsh, Kealy (Maher, 81); Duggan; McCartan, Farrelly (Ryan-Doyle, 59); O’Gorman, Barrett, McKevitt.

Kilkenny United: Coombes; Clancy, Martin, Walsh, O’Neill; Richards, Keenan, O’Donoghue, Kelly; McManus, Plunkett (Kane, 71.

Referee: Paul Larkin (Meath).

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