FINGAL will reflect on this Irish Senior Cup second-round tie as the one that got away, after they gave illustrious Banbridge a real scare before bowing out at ALSAA on Saturday afternoon.
The local side may be struggling to maintain their top-flight status in the Leinster League, but they had already accounted for fellow Northern outfit Mossley in the previous round and were once again on top of their game. With Chris Neville missing through work commitments and Conor Connolly and Paddy Gahan nursing injuries, Fingal were down to the bare bones, and their chances of causing an upset didn't look good when Banbridge hit the front early in the game. The loss of Andrew Shekleton through injury after 10 minutes didn't help Fingal either, but they kept their composure and just before half-time got back on level terms with a fine strike by the in-form Luke Hayden from a corner switch move. After a good start by Banbridge in the second half Fingal wrestled back control and missed a series of chances to take a shock lead, and they paid the ultimate price when a loose pass in the opposition circle led to a counter attack from which the visitors scored what proved to be the winner. Reflecting on the day's events, coach John McInerney said: 'I just told them at the end that it was our best performance of the season and they could go home proud of themselves. 'We are never happy to lose, but we gave everything and Banbridge got out of jail. Everyone knows we should have won, and that's what makes the defeat all the harder to take. 'Over the match we had six short corners to two and only converted one from six. Had we got a proper return from them we would have won the game and we'd be going to play Cork Harlequins next weekend. 'But things didn't run for us. On one occasion a Marcus O'Brien shot hit the keeper's backside when he was going the wrong way.' Fingal now have a weekend's rest before resuming their league campaign.