Clonmel Celtic beat holders Janesboro from Limerick 1-0 after extra time to reach the Munster Junior Cup semi-final.
There are many different ways to win a game. Sometimes victory comes courtesy of individual brilliance, a quality team display, or a battling never say die effort coupled with a bit of luck.
We’ve seen much better performances from Celtic but in terms of sheer fight and determination this ranks up there with one of the best battling displays from Celtic in recent years.
They started brightly and it was clear from the early encounters that the current Munster Junior Cup champions would have to work hard to progress here. Moving the ball around smartly this was Celtic at their best in the opening moments.
They came close to a breakthrough on 5 minutes when a Seanie O’Hara knock on played Evan Maguire in and his effort clipped the crossbar. Celtic continued to take the game to Janesboro and on 8 minutes Graham Doyle was crowded out and fired wide under pressure.
Janesboro had their first effort on target on 10 minutes when Richie Ryan saved comfortably from Shane Waters. As the half progressed Janesboro came more into the game although Celtic looked solid in defence with Simon Scully particularly impressive. Celtic came close on 18 minutes with Graham Doyle having a shot that was blocked and from the resulting corner the hard working Stephen Ryan had a shot that was deflected wide.
On 29 minutes Celtic suffered a blow when Evan Maguire had to leave the pitch with a leg injury. Celtic, who were already missing a few players through injury, had to reshuffle and Janesboro took advantage as they got on top for the remainder of the half. On 34 minutes a superb save from Richie Ryan denied the visitors the lead. The move was instigated by a good run by Shane Waters who found Shane Clarke and his effort looked destined for the bottom corner before Ryan managed to get a toe to the ball to divert around the post.
Janesboro finished the half on top although Celtic almost scored on 45 minutes when Paul Kennedy headed narrowly over after he was set up following good work by Sean O’Hara and Darren Burns.
Richie Ryan came to Celtic’s rescue again in the early stages of the second half pulling off two fines saves in the 47 and 48 minutes to deny Shane Clark and Conor Lynch. His heroics seemed to inspire those in front of him who battled valiantly as Janesboro probed for the lead goal.
On 53 minutes a ball over the top played James Hayes in but once again Richie Ryan was equal to his effort with another magnificent save. Celtic seemed to have withstood the early second half pressure as they gradually got a foothold in the game again. On 58 minutes Paul Kennedy played in Seanie O’Hara after a good run from Kevin Waters but Darren Glasheen made a fine block and the ball was scrambled clear when Brian Waters tried to fire home the rebound.
On 65 minutes a fine Seanie O’Hara run saw him well placed again but his cross was behind Stephen Ryan and the opportunity went. On 78 minutes Richie Ryan was Celtic’s saviour again when he raced from his goal to deny James Hayes when he was played in with a clear run at goal. It was a nervous final 10 minutes with neither side able to make the breakthrough as the game finished scoreless.
Celtic got the all important breakthrough on the stroke of half time in extra time when Kevin Waters powered home a header from a Graham Doyle cross. The reigning Munster Champions were rocked and Celtic could and should have made it a less anxious finish for the home supporters as Brian Waters, Sean O’Hara and Paul Kennedy all missed good chances to make the game safe as Janesboro chased an equaliser. In the end one goal was enough significantly helped by an outstanding performance from Celtic keeper Richie Ryan.