FAI Junior Cup 4th Round
CLONMEL CELTIC 3
ST. MICHAEL’S 2
Clonmel Celtic reached the last 64 of the FAI Junior Cup after a hard fought and thoroughly absorbing win by the odd goal in five against fellow Premier League heavyweights St. Michaels at Celtic Park, Clonmel last Sunday afternoon.
In the build up to this attractive fixture, nobody could predict a winner so Clonmel Celtic must have been surprised to lead 3-0 at the break. However, the fact that the game finished with Clonmel Celtic hanging on to a 3-2 lead is as much testament to the tremendous fighting spirit of St Michaels as it is to Clonmel Celtic’s inability to kill the game off as the visitors went for broke in the second half.
There was a lively start to the game with opportunities at both ends in the opening minutes. A glancing header from Pa Quinn was just wide and a minute later Celtic’s Evan Maguire blazed high and wide after some neat build up play down the left flank.
Clonmel Celtic hit the front on just 6 minutes when Evan Maguire dispossessed Richie Ryan in the middle of the park and set up Paul Kennedy who cleverly slipped the ball to the unmarked Seanie O’Hara who fired home with the aid of a slight deflection. With the wind in their sails Celtic took the game to St. Michael’s and were 2-0 up on 13 minutes. Kevin Waters’ smart pass found Evan Maguire and he squared the ball to Paul Kennedy who made no mistake.
Celtic could not have hoped for a better start and St. Michaels were stunned, but the Tipp town side slowly steadied the ship and worked their way back into the game. Saints skipper James Walsh did have the ball in the net on 18 minutes but it was ruled out for offside. Two minutes later Celtic ‘keeper Richard Ryan was diving full length to push away a Pa Quinn shot to safety. The visitors continued to search for an opener but the Celtic defence held firm. On 35 minutes the very impressive Jimmy Carr did get in behind but his cross was hacked clear by Simon Scully.
Then on 43 minutes, Celtic went 3-0 up when a Kevin Waters long range effort was on target, but the ball was tipped over by Saints keeper Derek Breen for a fine save. But from the resultant corner-kick Graham Doyle took it short to Brian Waters who flicked his cross/shot to the corner of the net to the delight off the home support. Just on the stroke of half time a close range effort from James Walsh struck the inside of the post and was then cleared off the line as Celtic left the field with that commanding 3-0 lead.
With nothing to lose, St. Michael’s came out fired up for the second half and on 52 minutes Celtic net-minder Richard Ryan dived full length to tip a Jimmy Carr effort on to a post. On 58 minutes Celtic almost made the game save when Evan Maguire flashed a shot just wide with the keeper rooted to the spot. With the clock ticking, Saints committed more men forward and they were thrown a lifeline on 65 minutes when skipper James Walsh fired home a fine left footed volley from a Jimmy Carr corner-kick. The goal breathed life into the St. Michael’s challenge and Clonmel Celtic were suddenly looking vulnerable and on 68 minutes from another corner-kick Saints spurned a good opportunity. However, on 73 minutes there was just a single goal between the sides when a Trevor Cosgrave free kick floated into the box saw James Walsh score his second goal of the afternoon when jumping highest to head powerfully home. As the game now swung from end to end it saw St. Michael’s come close with Pa Quinn whilst at the other end Evan Maguire failed to make proper contact. In the end of a pulsating game that unfortunately had to see a loser it saw Clonmel Celtic hang on and weather the storm to book their place for a second successive season in the last 64 away to a team from the Cork AUL.