Until they met DLR Waves last Saturday, Peamount United looked to be easing towards their third SSE Airtricity National League title in a row having won their previous five games, including a 5-0 thumping of Shelbourne, their closest rivals. But thanks largely to an outstanding performance from Waves goalkeeper Eve Badana, which included a first half penalty save, a scoreless draw means the title race is going down to the wire, with Peamount now just two points clear of Shelbourne heading in to Saturday’s final fixtures.
Galway, fifth in the table, are Peamount’s visitors at Greenogue in a game that will be shown live on TG4 (kick-off 7.30pm). A victory would secure the title for the Dublin side. Anything less and they’ll be nervously keeping an eye on Shelbourne’s meeting with third-placed Wexford Youths at Tolka Park.
Shelbourne, managed this season by Noel King, must beat the team they will meet again in Sunday week's FAI Cup final if they are to have any hope of winning their first title since 2016, having finished runners-up the past three seasons.
If they take the three points, then a shock Galway win would make them champions, while a draw at Greenogue would have them level on points with Peamount, necessitating a play-off next Tuesday.
While Peamount have beaten Galway 4-0 and 3-0 in their previous league meetings this season, they’ll be wary of a side that all but ended Wexford’s title hopes last month with a 1-0 victory away from home, Wexford’s first defeat since the opening day of the season. A fortnight ago Galway also made Shelbourne work hard for their 2-0 win at Tolka Park.
Still, it would be an upset of the colossal kind if Peamount fell at the last hurdle, not least when their side includes the experience of former and current internationals like Aine O'Gorman, Karen Duggan, Stephanie Roche and Dora Gorman. While O'Gorman has been playing at fullback or wingback for Ireland of late, her attacking role with her club has yielded 15 goals this season, making her the league's top scorer.
Shelbourne aren’t short of players with an international pedigree either, goalkeeper Amanda Budden, Ciara Grant, Jessica Ziu and Saoirse Noonan all featuring in the Irish squad, although they suffered the loss of both Jamie Finn and Emily Whelan mid-season when the pair departed for Birmingham City in the Super League.
Noonan has, though, proved to be a big success since joining from Cork City in February, the former Cork Gaelic football star scoring 12 goals this season and earning a recall to the Irish squad having first been selected in 2016 by Sue Ronan.
When TG4 announced back in September that they would have live coverage of four games from the title run-in, the first time the league has ever been shown live on television, they were no doubt hoping that it would go down to the wire. They have their wish.