Junior Cup, last 32
St Brendan's Park 4
Cherry Orchard 1
NO you don't need to go to Specsavers the scoreline above is correct with The Park reaching dizzy heights at Christy Leahy Park on Sunday demolishing Dublin side Cherry Orchard and booking their place in the last 16 of the FAI Junior Cup.
I wonder what odds would you get on that scoreline at the bookies on Sunday morning? And if anyone did make a bet they must have been happy campers on Sunday evening.
When the national competition began some months back over 650 teams were in the hat and now only 16 remain and it is a great refection on the state of the game in the county to have a Kerry side in that last 16. It was a game in which The Park taught their opponents a lesson on how the game should be played adopting containment tactics when required and hitting at their weaker points when given the opportunity.
Hero of the game for The Park was David (Trigger) Clifford who scored a great hat-trick and while that accomplishment quite rightly earns him the man of the match Anthony Murphy was not far behind him as he put in a tremendous amount of work both on and off the ball. Unfortunately this great win came at a high price with The Park having two players sent off in the concluding minutes which means they will be out for the last 16 game.
The Park came into this game as outsiders but they showed no fear of their opponents from the very outset and contested every ball as if their life depended on it. They took full advantage of a Cherry Orchard defence that looked very suspect under high balls. The Tralee side had a trump card in their pack in Martin Bowler whose huge throw ins to the box gave the visitors a torrid time as they were unable to deal with the strength and tenacity of Anthony Murphy and David Clifford.
The Park had wind advantage in the first half and went about their task in a businesslike manner fighting and grafting hard and putting their opponents under pressure at every given opportunity. The platform for their tremendous victory was established in the first half where they made their more illustrious opponents look like as ordinary side and subdued them in all aspects of play.
The Park deservedly went ahead after 23 minutes when Cherry Orchard failed to deal with a long throw by Martin Bowler and it was flicked on by Anthony Murphy at the near post and fell favorably for David Clifford and he hammered it home from 10 yards. They almost doubled their lead straight afterwards with Mike Conway denied by a great save by the Cherry Orchard keeper Geff Richardson when he dived low to turn the ball around the post.
It took the visitors 27 minutes to get their first decent effort on goal with a dipping shot by Paddy Byrne just clearing the crossbar with The Park goalie James Kelly stranded. The crucial goal for The Park came just before half time with Clifford again involved running onto a great ball on the right hand side of the field and his low shot across the goalmouth went past the Cherry Orchard goalie and hit the post leaving Anthony Murphy who was lurking a simple tap in to put them a strong position at half time.
However, the visitors were off their marks like a greyhound to the hare in the second half and they laid siege on The Park defence for a 10 minute period. They found it almost impossible to break them down as they done the simple things well and cleared their lines every time danger existed. They forced a few corner kicks which yielding nothing and their best chance came in the 55th minute when Jack Minighan set up Karl McFall, but his shot was just outside the post.
Minutes later Alan McNevin was denied by a fine save by Jamie Kelly and the woodwork denied Paddy Byrne's low volley from the verge of the box. After soaking up the pressure The Park hit o the break in the 64th minute and got a free. This was swept in by Ryan Downey and when it fell loose in the goalmouth David Clifford pounced to make it 3-0. Cherry Orchard gave themselves a lifeline in the 70th minute with Luke Kelly and Paddy Byrne combining to set up to Alan Caul and he made no mistake from close range.
Then the same player had a great chance from 10 yards, but a magnificent tackle by Shane Brosnan denied him a certain goal. The Park now began to enjoy much more possession and had further chances to extend their lead with both Mike Conway and Anthony Murphy denied by the woodwork. They were not to be denied in the 88th minute when David Clifford completed his hat-trick.
However, a rush of blood to the head proved very costly when he was sent off for taking off his jersey in celebration. He had been yellow carded earlier in the game for allegedly diving in the Cherry Orchard box. More woe was to follow for the Tralee side when sub Pa Mc Carthy was very harshly sent off for a second yellow card offence. It was a fantastic victory for The Park whose overall performance was impeccable.
They now journey to Dublin to play Killbarrack United in the last 16 of the competition and this game will be played on Sunday week. Kilbarrack United were runners up in the competition last year so another gigantic hurdle awaits them. However, after lowering the sails of one of the best junior sides in the country on Sunday they have nothing to fear and they will be in with a great chance in the big showdown.
The Park: Jamie Kelly, Martin Bowler, Con Barrett, Shane Brosnan, Ryan Downey, David Magee, Mike Conway, Adrian Quirke, Fiachra Dunne, Anthony Murphy, David Clifford Subs: Adam Whitmore for Mike Conway Pat McCarthy for Adrian Quirke Fergal Maunsell for Fiachra Dunne
Cherry Orchard: Geff Richardson, Chris Banton, Jack Minighan, Luke Kelly, John Coughlan, Paddy Quirke, Lee Mc Neill, Alan Mc Nevin, Karl Mc Fall, Cian Lennon, Alan Caul Subs: Dave Curley for Lee Mc Neill. Finbarr O'Connor for Alan Caul
Referee: Seamus O'Mahony