Dave Donnelly reports from the UCD Bowl
A late Amy Guilfoyle winner saw UCD Waves finally returned to winning ways with a 2-1 comeback win over Kilkenny United at the Belfield Bowl on Sunday afternoon.
The winger finished emphatically into the roof of the net three minutes from time after Dearbhaile Beirne had been denied by Niamh Coombes in the Kilkenny goal.
Ann Marie Byrne had given the league's bottom side a shock early lead when she pounced on an error by debutant Lucy Ashmore before another new signing, Rachel Doyle, equalised soon after.
It was rough justice on a Kilkenny side who, although they didn't have much of the play, contributed to an entertaining game and had chances of their own to take at least a point.
It was an under-strength Waves side that took to the field with goalkeeper Erica Turner and defender Roisin McGovern away with Ireland under-19s and captain Chloe Mustaki also out.
Manager Noel Kealy opted to go with two up front, the returning Naima Chemaou alongside Dearbhaile Beirne, to address their poor form in front of goal (just two goals in six games).
Waves threatened early on with a string of free kicks in decent positions, and Erica Byrne could have had a debut to remember had her early header found the target.
It was a memorable occasion for another reason for Ashmore as the Wicklow native dived on a loose ball only for it to squirm free off a surface slippery from the morning’s rain.
Byrne, who netted her first Kilkenny goal during last week’s 6-2 defeat to Cork City, took the gift gratefully, steadying herself before shooting past the retreating defenders.
The Students weren’t long in redressing the balance, however, and they were level within three minutes via the former Peamount United attacker Doyle.
Amy Guilfoyle did well to keep the ball from running for a goal kick and quickly eked out space for a cross, and she picked out Doyle, arriving inside off her wing, for a smart finish.
Chemaou saw her shot from the edge of the box easily saved and Byrne’s curling shot was handled by Ashmore as an open first half-hour came to a close.
The excellent Guilfoyle almost turned provider once more four minutes before the break as she hammered the ball across the six-yard box, and Beirne was a toenail’s length from turning it home.
UCD continued to have most of the play after the break, having switched back to a three in midfield, but they were restricted to long-range efforts from Sinead Gaynor and Aisling Spillane.
But just as their efforts looked set to fall short, and earn Kilkenny a well-deserved point, Beirne’s shot was too hot for Coombes to handle and Guilfoyle rifled the rebound into the roof of the net.
UCD Waves: Lucy Ashmore; Keelin McEntee (Kerri Letmon 61), Erica Byrne, Orla Haran (Paula Doran 90+2), Katie Burdis; Rachel Doyle, Sinead Gaynor, Aisling Spillane (Jenny Chambers 70), Amy Guilfoyle; Dearbhaile Beirne, Naima Chemaou.
Subs not used: Aisling Dunbar, Caolán Carroll.
Kilkenny United: Niamh Coombes; Aoife Brophy, Ciara Maher, Erin Best (Sara O'Sullivan 77), Colleen Rickard; Michaela Fox-Walsh, Gillian Keenan, Megan Whittty; Ann Marie Byrne, Jennifer O'Neill, Nicola Plunkett.
Subs not used: Leah Doyle, Tiffany Roberts.
Referee: Paul Larkin.
Attendance: 70 (estimate).
Extratime.ie Player of the Match: Amy Guilfoyle (UCD Waves).