Report: Christine Allen

Report: Christine Allen Rovers were left frustrated by a tenacious Treaty side who held the Hoops to a draw for the second week in a row. Rovers made one change to the starting eleven that faced Dominic Foley’s side last weekend, with Stephanie Zambra stepping in for Lauren Kelly, The Hoops lined out in a 4-3- 3 formation with four Academy players named among the substitutes.

The rain cleared just in time for the 4pm kick-off, the sun blazing against the baize which displayed no ill effects following the previous night’s sold-out men’s fixture against Bohemians. Collie O’Neill’s side were straight out the blocks from tip off. A cleverly worked move straight off the training ground required a timely intervention from Kayla Kyle to deny Joy Ralph an early breakthrough. It would prove to be a brief reprieve for the visitors. With the initial corner cleared by Grace McInerney, Ralph had the foresight to play a short pass to O’Gorman for the second, the skipper pulling off yet another superb strike from the edge of the box to hit the top right bin. 1-0 to The Hoops.

Treaty responded with a high press of two up front, a dizzying cross by Cara Griffin sailing dangerously through Amanda Budden’s gloves, while Katie Lawlee kept Jessica Hennessy and Shauna Fox on their toes. Joy Ralph looked to chop up the midfield, outsmarting McInerney and Erin Van Dolder to play a deft ball to O’Gorman, who poked it to Zambra before the striker cut the ball on the turn down the left flank to Lia O’Leary, Scarlett Herron’s call for handball waved away by referee Ian O’Keeffe. Zambra featured in much of the action up front, a misjudged backpass to Anne-Marie Ulliac bouncing to the number ten who fired on instinct with her left boot only to see the ball flash wide of the right-hand post. Maria Reynolds looked sharp in midfield, a deft touch playing in Melissa O’Kane, who dinked the ball over the top to Zambra. Fouled by Kyle with a forceful nudge from behind, Zambra took the set piece as her own, drilling low and hard and forcing Ulliac to palm the ball with both gloves past her right-hand post. The treaty would strike level on the 20 minute mark. Scarlett Herron was dispossessed by Delana Friesen, who, charging forward, played in the tenacious Lawlee to her left, the captain for the Under 17’s national team levelled the score with a simple tap in

For the remainder of the first half, both sides swarmed their respective flanks, launching menacing balls into the box and battling hard in the centre of the park. A switch by Lawlee to the right channel turned the screw on the home side, a clearance by Fox ricocheting off Friesen and landing in the path of substitute Hannah Saidi, who toe-poked it past an irate Budden moments before the end of the first half. 2-1 to the visitors at the break.

After the restart, a flashing header by the visitor’s skipper Talia White was neutralised by Melissa O’Kane, who marshalled from the back for The Hoops, while at the North Stand end, Zambra miscued a snappy delivery from Ralph, before Saidi was denied a brace when O’Kane did just enough to take her eye off the goal. Alannah Prizeman replaced Maria Reynolds in the 58th minute and would make an instant impact for O’Neill’s side. An aerial challenge won by Herron would land at Prizeman’s feet. The midfielder played a defence-splitting through ball into the path of Ralph, who slotted past Ulliac to equalise on the hour mark. 2-2.

The lively Lawlee would flash the ball wide of Budden’s right-hand post in the 65th minute, much to the relief of the Rovers fans in attendance. A break in play for the injured Caleigh Boeckx would allow both sides to replenish and receive lines of instruction from their respective managers. Boeckx recovered well, striking the outside of the post on foot of her return to play, before backheeling the ball to Friesen in the six-yard box, Hennessy nullifying the danger with a timely challenge. There was plenty of drama in the final ten minutes. Ralph and Lawlee were booked in the 76th minute following a heated exchange, physio Penny Walker and club doctor Emma Nolan racing onto the pitch to attend an injured Fox shortly thereafter, while under 17’s Academy player Ella Kelly made her senior debut in the 89th minute in place of Zambra. The Hoops looked favourites to score in the dying moments of the game, the counterattack charge led by O’Leary and Ralph down the left channel. O’Leary did well to shrug off Lawlee to deliver a low cross towards the front post to Ralph, who, lying in wait, saw her effort go agonisingly over the crossbar.

Despite an additional five minutes of injury time, The Hoops were unable to net the winner and must now wait for the close of the international break to hunt for that elusive first win when they face Shelbourne FC at Tolka Park on Saturday 13 April.