Andrew Dempsey reports from Tolka Park
Shelbourne closed the gap on second place Wexford Youths on Saturday afternoon with a comfortable five-goal win over a depleted Cork City at Tolka Park.
Emily Whelan’s brace set the Reds on their way as Alannah McEvoy, Rebecca Cooke and sub Kate Mooney capped off an impressive performance from the Richmond Road outfit.
Shelbourne started strong and created a litany of chances early on. City ‘keeper Maria O’Sullivan had to stand tall to keep the game scoreless as the trio of Emily Whelan, Rebecca Cooke and Alex Kavanagh all went close for Dave Bell’s side.
Shels were soon rewarded for their early pressure as they took the lead through Emily Whelan. Whelan shot past a helpless O’Sullivan the City goal after being slipped in by some brilliant play on the right-hand side to score her sixth of the season.
City’s concession of Whelan’s opener signalled a bit of life in their play and they went mightily close through Megan Sheehan.
Sheehan was fed in by captain Katie McCarthy, but Amanda McQuillan got out quick to smother the danger.
The 18-year-old went even closer minutes later but McQuillan was alert to avert the danger with a well-timed save after Christina Dring’s fine delivery into the penalty area.
Despite soaking up plenty of pressure, Cork were undone just before the break as McEvoy poked home after Alex Kavanagh’s free-kick caused confusion in the six-yard box.
Shels continued their relentless pressure from the opening period and grabbed a third as Kavanagh slotted past O’Sullivan from the penalty spot just minutes into the second half.
Finn was taken down by Dring as the Reds scored their 44th of the season in front of the afternoon sunshine at Tolka Park with Kavanagh sending her spot-kick down the middle of the net.
Shels made it four just moments later when Whelan scored her second of the game just before the hour mark.
The in-form forward bundled home after being found by the lively Cooke who was enjoying her freedom on the left-hand side.
Finn then tested the superb O’Sullivan with a fierce long-range strike that looked set for the top corner, but it was clawed away before Kate Mooney fired her rebound off the side-netting.
Mooney was not to be denied however as she scored her first of the game with just her second touch of the game to make it five for Dave Bell’s young squad.
In truth, it could have been more if it wasn’t for the heroics of O’Sullivan in the City goal as Ronán Collins’ side were forced to watch on helplessly as the Reds ran riot against the Leesiders.
Shelbourne FC: Amanda McQuillan; Jess Gargan (Fiona Donnelly, 77), Pearl Slattery (Lynn Craven, 63), Jamie Finn, Alex Kavanagh, Jessica Ziu, Rachel Graham, Alannah McEvoy, Emily Whelan, Rebecca Cooke (Kate Rooney, 73), Chloe Mustaki.
Subs not used: Rachael Kelly, Oleta Griffin, Jessica Gleeson, Mia Dodd.
Booked: Rebecca Cooke (60).
Cork City Women's FC: Maria O'Sullivan; Danielle Burke, Elizabeth O'Connor, Kate O'Donovan, Eabha O'Mahony; Riona Crowley, Christina Dring, Maggie Duncliffe, Katie McCarthy, Megan Sheehan;
Booked: Katie McCarthy (83).
Referee: Alan Carey.
Attendance: 200 (Estimate).
ExtraTime.ie Player of the Match: Emily Whelan (Shelbourne).