Image credit: Keith O’Toole/ Kilkenny United WFC
A first-half strike from Sylvia Gee along with a second-half brace from Jenny Chambers ensured Kilkenny United advanced to the quarter-finals of the WFAI Cup after the South-East side were forced to weather an early storm from TEK United on Sunday afternoon.
After encouraging performances in recent weeks, Kilkenny travelled to Dublin intent on ensuring there was no cup upset on the cards and stand in boss Paudie Hayes would have been delighted with his sides start when then broke the deadlock in the 8th minute after TEK failed to clear a corner, the ball fell nicely to Gee on the edge of the box and her strike sailed into the back of the net with the aid of the woodwork.
Despite taking an early lead, Kilkenny failed to capitalise on their goal advantage and the hosts soon began to grow into the game with Niamh Malloy forcing Tamara Furlong into a strong low save.
As the half continued to wear on it became a battle between Kilkenny shot-stopper and the hosts attack. However, Furlong showed her ability with saves from both Katherine Meany and Malloy before Meany again fired wide shortly before the break.
With the rain continuing to seep down at the South-Dublin venue, Kilkenny’s half-time team talk appeared to spark them into life and they almost doubled their advantage six minutes after the break when Leanne Payne blocked an attempted clearance from the Amy Cahill before Danielle Higgins produced a sublime block to deny the midfielder from close range.
As the game continued to open up, Kilkenny skipper Ciara Delaney produced an excellent last ditch challenge to deny Lydia Cooke who raced onto a dangerous through ball.
Less than 90 seconds later, the visitors doubled their advantage when Beth Carroll superb low cross picked out Chambers, whose shot was excellently saved by Cahill before the forward poked home the rebound from close range.
Undeterred by the deteriorating weather conditions, Kilkenny continued to pass the ball around and their hard word was rewarded once again on the hour mark when TEK failed to clear an Emma Boyle corner before Chambers fired home from six yards after a scramble in the hosts box.
As Chambers continued to look threatening going forward, Cahill was determined to prevent the former Castlebar Celtic and Galway WFC from completing her hat-trick with a smart low save.
Despite an excellent second-half display from the Women’s National League side, they were forced to sweat a little late on when substitute Aisling Dunsten pulled a goal back for TEK with 13 minutes remaining.
However, despite another dangerous cross from Higgins, TEK failed to produce the grandstand finish their spectators were hoping craved.
The win sees Kilkenny joining the six other WNL teams and Manulla FC in the draw for the quarter-finals of the 2017 WFAI Cup.
TEK United: Amy Cahill; Nadine Kenny, Erin Best, Louise Kearney, Danielle Higgins; Niamh Carroll, Jess Morrissey, Niamh Malloy, Claire Murphy; Katherine Meany, Lydia Cooke.
Kilkenny United: Tamara Furlong; Emma Boyle, Cliodhna Ni Shi, Ciara Delaney, Beth Carroll: Leanne Tumelty, Sylvia Gee, Rachel Hutchinson, Leanne Payne, Aisling Carroll; Jenny Chambers.
Substitutes: Megan Butler, Nicole Plunkett, Karley Leavy, Michelle O’Regan, Ria Lawson, Erica Byrne, Sarah O’Donoghue.
Referee: Natasha Valentini.
Player of the Match: Jenny Chambers (Kilkenny United)