Despite early first-half goals from Sophie O’Donoghue and Caroline Healy, UCD Waves made hard work of their win in the Continental Women’s National League against a determined Limerick side at Hogan Park on Sunday.

The Dublin side got the three points they needed to put daylight between themselves and Limerick and to close the gap on Cork City but were nearly left to rue their wastefulness in the final third as David Rooney’s much-changed young guns fought back well in the second half.

The hosts looked the more threatening side in the opening minutes but failed to create any clear-cut opportunities.

The Shannonsiders were quickly left to pay for their failure to take advantage of their early stronghold on the game as a clinical UCD side hit the hosts on the break to take an early lead.

Linking up well with her midfield, Sophie O’Donoghue was on target as she slotted home to give Noel Kealy’s resilient side the edge with just 19 minutes on the clock.

Limerick’s heads instantly dropped as UCD, sensing this, upped the tempo in their search for a second goal.

The Waves were duly rewarded when Caroline Healy doubled her sides’ lead just two minutes later.
Rachel Doyle and Leanne Payne combined well on the edge of the box to set up in-form striker Healy whose curling shot got the better of Karen Connolly to hit the back of the net.

Despite their defensive deficiencies, Limerick continued to cause problems at the other and the impressive Sophie Liston was at the forefront of each attack on the right, linking up well with fullback Tara Mannix.

Limerick, sensing there was something in the game, took control in the second half but failed to take full advantage of a tiring but durable UCD side who battled well to hold on to their early lead.

However, the home side did pull one back ten minutes after the interval as Chloe Connolly broke through a high defensive line to coolly finish into the far corner.

Following this glimmer of hope, Limerick held possession well and passed it around in midfield but lacked any real quality in the final third to get the much sought after equalising goal.

UCD, to their credit, continued to get the ball down and play and sustain high pressure on Limerick’s midfield, forcing the hosts to quickly play through balls in the oppositions’ half.

This limited Limerick’s chances in the remaining minutes of the second half to ensure the visitors held on to secure a hard-fought but well-deserved three points.

Limerick: Karen Connolly; Tara Mannix (Danielle Sheedy 73), Maura Shine, Marie Curtin (capt.), Lauren Keane; Sophie Liston (Meg Brennan 53), Shannon Parbat (Meghan Kelleher 75), Anna Shine, Carys Johnson, Amber Kenny; Chloe Connolly

UCD Waves: Erica Turner (capt.), Keelan McEntee, Alison O’Keefee, Aisling Spillane (Roisin McGovern 75), Katie Burdis, Sinéad Gaynor, Chloe Mustaki, Leanne Payne (Kerri Letmon 73), Sophie O’Donoghue, Rachel Doyle, Caroline Healy (Lauren Kelly 40).

Referee: Laura Hughes

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