FAI Junior Cup Semi-Final
ST. MICHAEL’S FC 4
NEW ROSS CELTIC (WEXFORD) 1
St. Michaels withstood a spirited second half rally from New Ross Celtic to carve out a flattering 4-1 victory after 110 minutes of an entertaining and engaging FAI Junior Cup semi-final at sunny Ferrycarrig Park, Wexford last Saturday evening. In the very first minute a long ball for New Ross Celtic’s Philip Drohan ended with St. Michael’s skipper James Walsh having to make a vital interception. Saints’ John Connery won a free-kick in the second minute which saw Paul Tobin’s left footed shot go just wide of the goal. Celtic went close on 16 minutes when Philip Drohan’s cross saw Michael Grangel head just over the crossbar. Matt O’Neill was booked for a foul on John Connery on 25 minutes while at the other end Paul Phelan fed Anthony O’Connor whose cross shot dangerously across the Saints penalty area. Brian Mullett was booked for a foul on Thomas Fahey on 27 minutes which saw Pa Quinn go close with a header from that set-piece. James Walsh headed over the bar from a Jimmy Carr corner-kick on the half hour. Jimmy Carr was booked for an alleged dive in the area from a Richie Ryan pass on 33 minutes. St. Michael’s got the breakthrough on 35 minutes when Pa Quinn did well to win back a ball on the left wing before feeding John Connery who in turn found Jimmy Carr whose shot beat Aaron Deegan. Pa Quinn went close with a snap header from a Paul Tobin cross on 43 minutes while at the other end of the park Paul Breen did well to rob Philip Drohan. With Saints well on top Richie Ryan forced Aaron Deegan, who was the busier of the ‘keepers, into a good save as the half came to a close. Whatever pep talk was made by manager John “Brad” O’Neill at the interval it saw New Ross Celtic come out a different side for the second half breaking with poise and pace. Saints were knocked back on their heels after 48 minutes when a long ball was misjudged by the normally reliable high profile Saints defence allowing Philip Drohan hit a bullet of a shot which gave net-minder Derek Breen no chance.
Saints with not as many chances that were made in the opening half hit back eventually with John Connery’s angled shot saved by Aaron Deegan. At the other end Celtic’s Paul Phelan shot straight at Derek Breen on 56 minutes and Philip Drohan shot over the bar from 10 yards three minutes later after been played in by Damien Cullen. Saints were been pulled out of position at times.
Sub Shane Guerin missed a great chance on 69 minutes when his left footed shot went the wrong side of the post from a Jimmy Carr pass after Trevor Cosgrave and Richie Ryan had carved the opening. On 78 minutes Richie Ryan had the ball in the net but Saints celebrations were cut short as the assistant referee’s flag was up for an infringement. With ten minutes of normal time to play a Padraic Fogarty header from a Chris Higgins cross lacked the power to trouble Celtic’s keeper Deegan. Then a moment of madness from Farrell, who was booked minutes earlier, saw him sent off for a strike on Chris Higgins as another 20 minutes of extra-time became a reality. That sending off proved to be the turning point of this epic contest as the pendulum swung back St. Michael’s way in extra-time with the Tipp town side putting their numerical advantage to good use. In the dying minutes of the opening period of extra-time Richie Ryan showed presence of mind to square the ball for Jimmy Carr to make it 2-1 from close range with his second of the afternoon.
A minute into the second period of extra-time impressive substitute Shane Guerin flicked the ball on for Padraic Fogarty who played in Richie Ryan who brought a fabulous save from Celtic ‘keeper Deegan. Guerin was fouled on the touchline on 103 minutes and Jimmy Carr’s well delivered free-kick saw Paul Breen rise highest to head home from 8 yards and put St. Michael’s 3-1 up. Saints brought in Danny O’Brien for Jimmy Carr as a New Ross Celtic side that had given their all looked tired and dispirited. O’Brien proved to be ‘super-sub’ as he cut in from the wing before letting fly a superb shot that nestled in the top corner of the net for the goal of the game on 107 minutes to book a delighted St. Michael’s their place in back-to-back Finals. The Final will see another Tipp versus Limerick duel as St. Michael’s take on arch-rivals Pike Rovers, who had a penalty shoot-out victory over Sheriff YC in Dublin. The venue will once again be Turners Cross, Cork and the date is May 22. ST. MICHAEL’S: Derek Breen, Paul Tobin, Chris Higgins, Paul Breen, James Walsh, Trevor Cosgrave, Jimmy Carr, Thomas Fahey, Pa Quinn, Richie Ryan, John Connery. Subs: Padraic Fogarty for John Connery; Shane Guerin for Pa Quinn; Danny O’Brien for Jimmy Carr NEW ROSS CELTIC: Aaron Deegan, Brian Mullett, Stephen O’Leary, Jason Cashin, Matt O’Neill, Damien Cullen, Anthony O’Connor, Michael Grangel, Mark Lee, Philip Drohan, Paul Phelan
Subs: John Mullett for Brian Mullett; Robert Farrell for Mark Lee; Jason Keoghan for Damien Cullen