Women's Premiership League Cup


31 Aug 2023
© Pacemaker Press

Caitlin McGuinness hit a superb hat-trick as Cliftonville Ladies defeated Sion Swifts Ladies in the Women's Premiership League Cup final at Stangmore Park.

Cliftonville seized the initiative right from the start and duly raced into a two goal lead with just over a quarter-of-an-hour on the clock.

Caitlin McGuinness opened the scoring on 12 minutes after she reacted quickest to turn the ball home at the near post past keeper Jennifer Currie after meeting a cross from the right.

Then, four minutes after that, Caitlin doubled her tally when she rose highest to flick a header beyond Currie after Marissa Callaghan had knocked on a quickly taken Abbie Magee throw-in.

And the Reds almost extended their advantage only to be denied by the woodwork after Victoria Carleton's 25-yard effort was pushed onto the crossbar by Currie.

However Sion might have pulled one back ten minutes from the break courtesy of a Caoirse Doherty effort after she ran through the defence only to see keeper Rachel Norney pull off a vital save.

But Cliftonville continued to look the more likely to find the net again, with Caitlin just missing out on her hat-trick when she attempted to touch home a Hannah Doherty cross - and again when Currie got down to deny her shot from Louise McDaniel's pass.

Cliftonville almost moved out of sight just five minutes into the second half when the other McGuinness sister - Kirsty - latched onto a loose ball out of defence to send a shot low and hard across the area but ultimately off the right post.

Sion were thrown a lifeline on the hour when Kerry Brown reduced the deficit knocked home a free-kick from outside the area past Norney despite the Cliftonville keeper initially appearing to have made the save.

The Reds responded positively, however, and struck the woodwork for the third time with Callaghan on this occasion being denied from 25 yards after Carleton had laid the ball off into her path.

Cliftonville did grab their third goal with a quarter-of-an-hour remaining after Caitlin bagged her hat-trick by running onto Toni-Leigh Finnegan's ball to get in behind the Sion defence and slot home in off an upright.

Incidentally, Caitlin's hat-trick emulated the same feat achieved by Kirsty for Linfield back in the 2017 final - the only other time a hat-trick had been scored in a Women's Premiership League Cup final!

Cliftonville Ladies: Norney, Burrows, Doherty, Morgan, Finnegan, McDaniel, C. McGuinness, Carleton, K. McGuinness, Callaghan, Magee subs White, Maxwell, Reilly, Markey, O. McGuinness, Irvine, Shaw

Sion Swifts Ladies: Currie, Neal, McCarter, Crompton, McGlynn, Brown, McLaughlin, Haynes, Lynch, McGlade, Doherty subs Tebbett, Canning, McFarland, Long, Sheerin, Walsh, O'Neill