Sylvia Gee in action for Limerick FC Women's side
Limerick FC Women secured their place in the semi-finals of the Só Hotels Women’s National League Cup in dramatic fashion thanks to a first half own goal and a late penalty save from the impressive Karen Connolly in the Fairgreen on Sunday.
With the exception of wins over basement side Kilkenny, the result proved to be Limerick’s first victory against league opposition since their formation last year, an outcome that could have been different after Galway were awarded a penalty deep into time added on.
Both sides took full advantage of near perfect conditions as they passed the ball along the ground from the get-go, ensuring a fantastic display of football in the sun-drenched home grounds of Fairview Rangers.
Galway started the stronger of the two sides and Aoife Thomson came close with just six minutes gone – the lively striker did well to link up with Tessa Mullins after a timely pass from Leah Brady created space.
Limerick responded well and began to get a stronghold on possession and were nearly rewarded for their efforts when Marie Curtin – playing in unfamiliar territory as a striker – dragged her effort wide after a well-worked free kick saw Sylvia Gee tee up the former Galway player.
Limerick had the lead just shy of the hour mark with Gee proving influential yet again.
The 41-year-old former Republic of Ireland women's international lofted in a weighted free kick before a headed own goal proved to be the difference between the two sides.
Connolly kept her side in the lead thanks to a superb diving safe from a low Thomson shot across the goal, on the verge of half time.
Moments after the restart, the in-form Sophie Liston did well to reach the end line before finding Aoife Horgan at the back post.
The young winger could have and should have doubled Limerick’s lead but her shot was dragged wide of the post.
On the hour mark, the crossbar saved Galway’s blushes as McPhilpin could only watch on as Shannon Parbat’s dipping strike hit the bar and went out for a goal kick.
Liston was involved yet again for Dave Rooney’s young guns forcing Galway captain Cormican to play the ball into the path of Parbat.
Minutes later, Galway nearly found the all-important equaliser as Connolly failed to deal with a deep cross but Clodagh Doherty recovered well to clear the lines for the hosts.
Following the introduction of Emma Donoghue, Limerick reverted to a back five with striker Marie Curtin returning to her usual role of centre back, as the home side looked to hold on to the narrowest of margins.
That they did but deep into time added on, Galway were awarded a penalty for a suspected handball by Megan Kelleher.
Up stepped Shauna Fox but 18-year-old goalkeeper Karen Connolly rose to the occasion to dive to her left to send Limerick through in dramatic fashion.
Limerick had the opportunity for just one last attack as referee Vicki McEnery blew her whistle for one final time to end an entertaining clash on Shannonside.
Limerick: Karen Connolly; Clodagh Doherty (Emma Donoghue 75), Tara Mannix, Meghan Kelleher, Lauren Keane (Anna Shine 62); Maura Shine; Sophie Liston, Shannon Parbat (Carys Johnson 64), Sylvia Gee, Aoife Horgan; Marie Curtin.
Booked: Tara Mannix (83), Carys Johnson (90)
Galway: Ria McPhilpin; Leah Brady (Aoife Brennan 68), Shauna Fox, Keara Cormican (capt.), Lucia Lobato; Chloe Singleton (Ellie O’Flaherty 68), Sinead Donovan, Tessa Mullins, Meadbh De Burca, Lynsey McKey; Aoife Thomson.
Booked: Chloe Singleton (34)
Referee: Vicki McEnery (Westmeath).