Report: Christine Allen, photo credit Glenn Pearson

Shamrock Rovers return from the Treaty City with a point following a closely contested opening game in the Avenir Sports Women’s All-Island Cup against a new and improved Shannonsiders.

A weak sunlight bathed the home and away fans that dotted the North Stand’s fern-coloured seating, a strong biting breeze proving advantageous to the visitors in the opening forty-five.

There were three changes to the Hoops starting eleven from last week’s clash with Wexford.

Amanda Budden returned to the starting lineup following a successful rehabilitation of her knee, while Maria Reynolds and Lauren Kelly made the starting lineup for the first time in 2024.

The first half at Garryowen was an evenly balanced affair.

Treaty United were quick out the city gates, Jillian O’Toole’s spinning cross finding Caleigh Boeckx who did well to maintain her balance and shunt the ball into the six-yard box.

Katie Lawlee, who netted an assist and a goal in the home side’s victory over  DLR Waves, manoeuvred to her preferred right foot and fired a shot up and over the crossbar, while a Kayla Kyle volley later in the half flashed across Budden’s post, Caleigh Boeckx foot a whisper short from connecting.

Having successfully defended the siege launched by the Canadian cavalry, the visitors looked to utilise the direction of the wind with long and inviting balls towards Lauren Kelly and skipper Áine O’Gorman, who dutifully soldiered the right-hand channel.

In one eye-catching transition of play, Jessica Hennessy left Caleigh Boeckx on read, a deft touch to O’Gorman resulting in a swift one-two between the Wicklow native and Kelly, the captain miscuing to send the ball over the crossbar.

Amanda Budden showed no signs of ring rust between the sticks, reacting quickly to block a Delana Friesen intercept, making herself big to block the midfielder’s goal-bound attempt.

Lawlee supplied a number of sweeping deliveries for the home side, with a towering header by Erin Van Dolder spelling danger in the Hoops penalty area, before Jessica Hennessy, who was once again imperious for The Hoops in defence, cleared her lines.

A chance created on foot of a pickpocket by Lia O’Leary on Cara Griffin was flashed wide and to the right by the marauding wingback as the sides looked set to be heading towards a first-half stalemate.

Yet Dominic Foley’s eleven would take the lead in the 33rd minute, a deflected cross from Caleigh Boeckx falling to the in-form Van Dolder, the number four blasting the ball from the edge of the box just out of Budden’s reach and into the far left-hand corner.

As expected, Rovers responded apace, O’Gorman for the second time this season netting the leveller for the Dublin 24 women in the 41st minute with a superb strike from an awkward angle on the left flank that caught goalkeeper Anne-Marie Ulliac off guard.

The sides would go in level at the break.

The Hoops made a change between the sticks ahead of the second half, with Summer Lawless introduced in place of the returning Amanda Budden.

Joy Ralph created the first chance for Rovers after the restart, snatching the ball from Grace McInerney and popping off a looping shot that narrowly sailed over the crossbar.

Moments later, Ralph once again got the better of McInerney, who could only look on as the number 19 shirt bore down on goal.

Kayla Kyle would save the Limerick native’s blushes, a last-ditch tackle doing just enough to nudge The Hoops attacker off balance, O’Toole was later shown a yellow card for tugging at Ralph’s shirt in her attempt to avoid a repeat.

A clash of heads reduced Foley’s women to ten for a brief spell, Van Dolder receiving medical treatment on the touchline.

Lawlee let one fly from distance for the home side, but it was the visitors who looked the more dangerous as dusk began to encroach, an Alannah Prizeman header invoking audible gasps from all in attendance as it flashed agonisingly past the post.

In the 80th minute, a well-timed slide tackle by Talia White denied substitute Jaime Thompson the glory of a late winner, while a powerful front post header from Ralph in the dying embers of the game whizzed wide and to the left, all but extinguishing The Hoops hopes of three points.