Raheny United lifted the Women's FAI Cup with an extra-time victory over Castlebar Celtic at the Aviva Stadium. Raheny twice took the lead in normal time through Ciara Grant and Caroline Thorpe, but Emma Mullin and Deirdre Doherty helped Castlebar take the match to extra time. However, an own goal in the additional 30 minutes saw Raheny add the FAI Cup to their Women's National League trophy.
The women’s final erupted with both teams playing a very open game of football, with Raheny getting the better of Castlebar in the opening stages.
Raheny’s Noelle Murray threatened to beat Stoke City’s Asmir Begovic for the quickest goal scored this weekend when she almost capitalised on a nervy defensive error in the opening seconds of the game. The striker latched onto a loose pass and illustrated remarkably quick feet to dribble around two defenders and unleash a powerful driven shot just wide of Caoimhe O’Reilly’s right post.
The Dubliners were dominant in possession in the first half and continued to press Castlebar high up the pitch refusing to give their opponents any time on the ball, forcing the Mayo side into a more direct style of play, and looking to hit Raheny on the counter attack whenever possible.
Katie McCabe nearly stunned the crowd when she delivered a high inswinging corner from the right which clipped the top of the crossbar and bounced back into play.
The deadlock was broken on 37 minutes when Raheny’s Ciara Grant smashed a dipping left footed strike into the top left corner of the net, leaving the Castlebar keeper helpless.
The second-half began illustrating the same pattern as the first with Raheny dominating in possession and making Castlebar work tirelessly to win possession back.
However, the Mayo side slowly grew into the game, making great use of the wings, with Sarah Rowe in particular shining for the green and white hoops.
Castlebar grabbed a deserved and well-worked equaliser on 66 minutes when Emma Hansberry cut in from the right and delivered a low driven cross into substitute Emma Mullin’s path, where the striker finished comfortably from six yards, leaving Raheny momentarily stunned.
A penalty was awarded to Raheny on 83 minutes when Caroline Thorpe was bundled over by the Castlebar keeper. Thorpe stepped up and sent O’Reilly the wrong way with a confident finish putting the Dubliners back in the lead with five minutes to go.
The game looked to be over for Castlebar until another substitute, Deirdre Doherty, embarked on a determined run and fired a deft left footed strike from 25 yards rocketing into the far top corner of the Raheny net.
Extra time began as open as the previous two halves of football, and heartbreak followed for Castlebar when defender Kim Flood failed to get enough contact on a dangerous cross from wide and deflected the ball beyond the helpless keeper.
The final whistle of extra time sounded, signalling victory for Raheny United in the FAI Umbro Women’s Cup Final in what was a fantastic display of football. Both teams certainly gave Sligo Rovers and Drogheda United a spectacle to live up to.