History was made and dreams shattered on Sunday last (March 12) as a resilient Carrick United were knocked out of the FAI Junior Cup at the quarter final stage on penalties to Roscommon high-flyers Boyle Celtic.
The sides were level 2-2 at full time and again at the end of extra time at Tom Drohan Park in Carrick-on-Suir as both battled to reach the last four of the glamour cup competition.
But United's luck ran out in the penalty shoot-out, losing 6-5 on sudden death kicks as the visitors reached the semi-final stage for the first time in the history of their club.
Neither side created any clear cut chances in the opening half an hour at Tom Drohan Park in Carrick-on-Suir, with United forced into an early substitution as Stephen Hahessy replaced Gerry Walsh after he picked up a knock.
United's Jack Doherty was well manned by Celtic and limited to free kick opportunities that failed to test shot stopper Kyle Suffin. Likewise, pacey winger Timmy Ryan's efforts couldn't breach the visiting party's defence.
United's Anthony Power started to up the ante, winning every loose ball and finding Joe Hart on the edge of Celtic's box whose shot was blocked down.
Celtic's Luka Roddy and Mick Corrigan paired up, paving the ball to Shane Battles who blasted against United's fortress defence which was orchestrated by captain Anthony O'Donnell.
United then took the lead against the run of play through former Ipswich Town professional footballer Jack Doherty. Anthony Power teased the ball in from the left and Doherty superbly shot across his body from just outside the six yard box.
Carrick United's Jack Doherty celebrating his opening goal.
Celtic responded immediately as half time loomed large with Niall Brennan winning a corner down the left after testing United defender Joe Hart. John Connolly rattled the crossbar with a header from the resultant corner, and moments later Mick Corrigan equalised from close range to leave the game 1-1 at half time.
Boyle Celtic's Mick Corrigan scored two goals for the Roscommon outfit.
Celtic's Niall Brennan and Danny Browne combined early in the second half, with Brennan on the end of a free into the box and finding the back of the net only to be deemed offside.
Celtic's Gerard McDermottroe found an opening for Mick Corrigan whose shot was excellently saved by Adrian Walsh.
Corrigan thereafter put Celtic ahead (see video above), but a United rally when they needed it the most led to man of the match Keith Walsh scrambling home at the death from close range after Jack Doherty hit the crossbar.
The Junior Cup showdown, which was end to end once the deadlock was broken in the first half, finished 2-2 at the full time whistle.
Straight from the beginning of extra time, United's Jack Doherty played a ball over the top to Ian Clery. John Walsh then whipped a ball into John Keyes who was charged down at the back post by Celtic's defence under the leadership of commanding Sean Purcell.
Keith Walsh continued setting the tempo for United in extra time, with Eoghan Burke almost Michael Carrick like in his distribution of the ball. Anthony O'Donnell and John Walsh led United's charges from the back, with Ian Clery, John Keyes, Jack Walsh and Stephen Kerwick warrior like in winning battles across the park.
Eoghan Burke battled hard in the centre of the field, endeavouring to set Ian Clery through on goal only for a resurgent Celtic defence reading the danger.
Celtic started to push forward, with Danny Browne unlucky not to score from a Aaron Calpin ball sung in from the right.
Good spirited Celtic fans were more vocal, chanting: "People always ask us who we are ... where do we come from ... we're from Boyle".
United substitute Jack Walsh tried to weave his way into the box, before some easy on the eye link up play from Keith Walsh and John Keyes almost put Ian Clery through on goal.
Eoghan Burke then found John Keyes on the right, who cut into the Celtic box before shooting over the crossbar.
Both sides failed to infiltrate each other's goal lines in extra time, with a semi final place destined to be decided on penalties.
Danny Browne's powerful penalty went in off the crossbar, opening the scoring for Celtic. Jack Doherty responded for United, before Celtic's Gerard McDermottroe and James Carthy had two unanswered penalties as United’s John Walsh and Ian Clery failed to convert their spot kicks.
A tremendous save from Adrian Walsh kept United’s Junior Cup dream alive when he stopped Shane Battles fourth penalty and then United's Anthony Power put the ball to the left of Celtic keeper Kyle Suffin.
Sean Purcell missed Celtic's fifth penalty, before Keith Walsh slotted home to take it to sudden death at 3-3 apiece.
Dessie Carlos and Luka Roddy scored for Celtic, with Anthony O'Donnell and Adrian Walsh responding for the home side.
John Connolly’s penalty proved to be the winner for Celtic, as United substitute Jack Walsh crucially saw his penalty saved.
A heartbroken United goalkeeper-manager Adrian Walsh told The Nationalist after the game that his side are "devastated", before applauding Boyle Celtic and wishing them all the best in the competition. "Their keeper was unlucky not to save our second goal and I know what it's like to make mistakes in big games. He came good in the penalty shoot out and I'm happy for him," Walsh said.
An emotional Celtic manager Darren Hurd beamed: "We have just made club and cup history, and I'm over the moon. I'm really caught for words. We have so many big games coming up in the league and the cup back home, but to come down here and beat a very good Carrick United side is unbelievable".
Celtic goal scorer Mick Corrigan (interview can be seen on Twitter @DTW1992) praised goalkeeper Kyle Suffin following his side reaching the semi-final of the FAI Junior Cup for the first time ever. "I never ever thought we'd get this far...he's the reason we got here ...the ball came in [from the wing for my first goal], I got a head on it and I turned around and it was in the top corner ...[my second goal] was a great ball in and a tap in really".
Carrick United: Adrian Walsh, Joe Hart, Anthony O'Donnell (captain), Dale O'Mahony, John Walsh, Eoghan Burke, Keith Walsh, Timmy Ryan, Gerry Walsh, Anthony Power, Jack Doherty. Subs used: Stephen Hahessy, Stephen Kerwick, John Keyes, Jack Walsh, Ian Clery.
Carrick United starting 11.
Boyle Celtic: Kyle Suffin, Dessie Carlos, Sean Purcell, Gerard McDermottroe, John Connolly, Lochlainn Conboy, Shane Battles, Mick Corrigan, Niall Brennan, Danny Browne, Luka Roddy. Subs: James Carty, Aaron Calpin, Sean McCormack.
Boyle Celtic starting 11.
The Nationalist/South Tipp Today man of the match: Keith Walsh.
Limerick match officials: Donal Power (referee), Ryan McCann and Brian Higgins.
***A more detailed report in The Nationalist on Wednesday***