F.A.I. YOUTH CUP QUARTER FINAL
Cahir Park 1, Castlebridge Celtic (Cork) 2.
As Cahir Park supports walked out of the ground following this defeat last Saturday they had a common question, how did Cahir Park lose this game. Overall they gave a marvellous display, dominating the exchanges throughout with attractive attacking football. Yet, they ended up at the wrong end of the scoresheet. One could point at bad misses and two fatal lapses in defence but that would not be fair to their overall performance. Unfortunately one gets just one shot at knock-out competition and on this occasion Cahir were just unlucky.
From the start Cahir settled into their rhythm with free-flowing confident play against their physically stronger opponents. An early free from a good position was sent wide. After dominating the opening quarter hour one felt a goal was inevitable. In the 18th minute Gerry Cronin burst into the box and following a tackle fell to the ground for which the referee deemed unfair and awarded a penalty. Liam Casey stepped up to take the spot-kick but his weak shot went wide. Five minutes later he atoned for this miss with the opening goal. Niall McKenna won the ball in midfield finding Darren McGrath whose sublime through ball was fastened onto by Liam Casey who confidently slotted out of keeper Stephen Hickey’s reach. Cahir were now dominant, lording it at midfield through Niall McKenna, Ian Flannery and Gerry Cronin. On the half hour Cahir had a glorious opportunity when Liam Casey found Darren McGrath unmarked but he blazed over the bar. Castlebridge showed nothing of note until the dying minutes of the half but the ability of attacking midfielder Shane Fenton and striker Anthony Spillane gave signals of two players to watch. Cahir comfortably led by 1-0 at the break.
The second half opened in similar vein, Cahir creating the chances but finishing left a lot to be desired. Most of the opportunities were falling to Liam Casey but time and time again he was off target. Cahir created waves of attacks from midfield and down the flanks but the final ball just would not go in. On the hour mark it all changed out of nothing. Realising their midfield was hopelessly outclassed Castlebridge resorted to route one with impressive goalkeeper Stephen Hickey’s long kicks going directly to the pacey striker Spillane. One such attack saw a corner conceded and the perfectly floated flag kick found the towering Anthony Fenton who headed powerfully to the net. Cahir regained their composure and the chances kept coming mainly through the individual brilliance of Darren McGrath in midfield. But again the final ball was blazed over the bar or sent wide. Then in the 68th minute disaster struck and again it was another long kick from the keeper which instigated the havoc. Uncertainty with the high ball saw keeper Niall Murphy and defender John O’Connor get in a tangle presenting Anthony Spillane with the opportunity to force the ball over the line. With twenty minutes remaining Cahir had plenty of time to get back on terms. Their dominance in midfield continued but now Castlebridge abandoned all ideas of attack, instead crowding out Cahir in defence. It is to their credit they withstood wave after wave of attacks, getting a foot in at the last moment and putting their bodies on the line. It was desperation stuff as the game entered injury time but try as they may that elusive equaliser would not come. Castlebridge held out for a lucrative home game in the semi-final at home to Castlebar Celtic who beat Letterkenny Rovers 3-0. The other results were Edenderry Town 4, Mervue Utd (Galway) 2. Castleview (Cork) 3, Ballynanty Rovers (Limerick) 2.
For the second year in a row a TSDL team with the potential to go all the way to the decider bows out. Last season Clonmel Town had what was arguably their best ever youth team but were beaten 1-0 by Wexford Youths, a last minute goal. Wexford Youths went on to win it out, beating Mount Merrion from Dublin 2-1 in the final.. Looking at what remains this season Cahir Park certainly had the potential to at least make the final. But then a little bit of luck is needed and this very good Cahir team did not have that last Saturday. They can justifiably feel proud on making the last eight of this competition, a competition last won by a TSDL in 1994 and 1995 when St.Michaels did it in successive years.
The Cahir Park team was; Niall Murphy, Cormac Looby, Michael O’Connor, Aaron Murphy, John O’Connor, Niall McKenna, Gerry Cronin, Ian Flannery, Liam Casey, Darren McGrath, Barry Cooney. Subs used were David Finnane for Barry Cooney, Anthony Condon for Ian Flannery. Not used; Paddy Kenneally, Kevin Griffin, William Dunne, Woijcek Cymerys, Joey Doyle, Stephen Duggan.