Katie McCabe helps Arsenal prevail in London derby that draws near-record WSL crowd

Peamount United and their quartet of Ireland players suffer defeat in President’s Cup, while Leanne Kiernan gets assist in Liverpool win

After an underwhelming conclusion to their latest international window, which ended with that 2-0 defeat by Wales in Tallaght on Tuesday, the bulk of Eileen Gleeson’s charges were back in club action at the weekend – with, predictably, mixed fortunes.

Peamount United’s quartet of youthful inclusions in the Irish squad over the last while – namely Freya Healy, Jess Fitzgerald, Erin McLaughlin and Ellen Dolan – will, most probably, be dazed by their 3-0 defeat by Athlone Town in Saturday’s President’s Cup, the game scoreless until the 77th minute, after which Athlone let loose.

A double from Chloe Singleton and another goal from Casey Howe gave Athlone an emphatic victory over the league champions, and will send them into the new season – which starts next weekend – with a spring in their step.

Over in London, meanwhile, Ireland captain Katie McCabe was having a typical Katie McCabe day. Playing in front of a crowd of 60,050 at the Emirates, the second-highest attendance in WSL history, she helped Arsenal to a 1-0 win over Spurs in the north London derby, a result that keeps them within three points of Chelsea and Manchester City at the top of the table.


But, as McCabe tends to do, she picked up a yellow card, her seventh in 14 games, having already served a suspension for the first five. This time around, though, she was hard done by, Spurs goalkeeper Rebecca Spencer doing all the shoving when they came face to face.

It was a good day too for Liverpool, their 4-1 win away to Aston Villa seeing them pass their points mark from last season with seven games still to go. Niamh Fahey captained the side, while Leanne Kiernan came on for the last half hour, her cross setting up Liverpool’s fourth goal.

There was no joy, though, for Courtney Brosnan and Heather Payne who started in Everton’s 2-1 defeat away to Manchester City, while Bristol City’s Megan Connolly was on the wrong end of a 7-3 trashing by Brighton which keeps her side six points adrift of West Ham at the bottom of the WSL table. Her gem of a goal from a free-kick was her only consolation.

In the Championship, the “Irish derby” between Crystal Palace and Birmingham City was postponed due to a waterlogged pitch, resulting in Louise Quinn, Lucy Quinn, Lily Agg, Hayley Nolan, Izzy Atkinson and Abbie Larkin having the day off, but London City Lionesses’ Irish crew had a happy time of it in their 2-1 win away to Reading – Grace Moloney, Megan Campbell and Ruesha Littlejohn all starting in a victory that lifted them three points clear of the relegation zone.

Over on the continent, Amber Barrett helped herself to her 12th goal of the season, the second highest tally in the Belgian Super League, but her Standard Liege side fell to a 3-2 defeat to Anderlecht, their first loss since October. They’re still level on points with Leuven at the top of the table, with Anderlecht a point behind.

Mary Hannigan

Mary Hannigan

Mary Hannigan is a sports writer with The Irish Times