FAI Junior Cup
St Brendan's Park 2
IN the best game seen in Kerry for a long time The Park went out of the FAI Junior Cup at Christy Leahy Park on Sunday going down to Waterford side Carrick United in extra-time.
This was an epic tie that displayed the finer arts of the game with fast exciting football and an abundance of creativity by both sides. Play switched from end to end on a constant basis and no player got too much time to settle on the ball as hard tackles were coming in from all angles.
The Park showed no fear of their more illustrious opponents and matched them stride for stride and if a bit of luck had gone their way they might have snatched it. They had two early half chances, but Adam O'Rourke and Mike Conway were unable to get their efforts on goal.
However, the visitors went ahead in the 13th minute with a fantastic goal. Anthony Power and Lee Grace played a one two on the sideline and then fed Ian Cleary who crossed the ball to the incoming John Murphy and despite being under pressure he unleashed an unstoppable shot from the verge of the box which flew into the roof of the net.
The Park went close in the 20th minute when Con Barrett nodded on a Graham O'Leary corner kick and David Courtney was denied by a great block by Anthony O'Donnell. Then Mike Conway had a chance but he fluffed his shot and Con Barrett header over from a Graham O'Leary corner-kick.
The Park had the ball in the net in the 32nd minute but David Courtney was ruled off side. Then Fergal Maunsell set up David Courtney but he was denied by a wonderful save by the Carrick goalie Irish International Adrian Walsh.
Right on the stroke of half time The Park got the reward their endeavour merited when Adam O'Rourke and David Courtney made the room to free Mark O'Sullivan who crossed to Mike Conway and he made no mistake from close range.
However, The Park were rocked on their heels two minutes into the second half when they did not deal with an Eoghan Burke cross and John Murphy sneaked in and headed the ball home. The Park began to turn the screw as the half progressed and after another sweeping move David Courtney was again denied by another great save by the Carrick United keeper.
After a period of sustained pressure The Park eventually got the break they deserved when sub Jesse O'Sullivan was hacked down in the box and referee Derek O'Shea had no hesitancy in pointing to the spot. Graham O'Leary gave the Carrick keeper no chance with an exquisite spot kick.
Both sides now were very cagey as the clock counted down The Park had a late chance but David Courtney's effort went over the top. With stalemate prevailing it progressed to extra time and The Park were kept in the game early on by two great saves by Jamie Kelly the first with his foot to deny Anthony Power and afterwards to save from Ian Cleary.
Midway through the second period of extra time the visitors got the vital breakthrough after a John Murphy corner broke across the goalmouth Anthony O'Donnell raced on to the loose ball and crossed to sub Glen Keane and he headed home the winner.
John Murphy had a chance to grab a hat trick when he was put through on goals and after getting past the goalie he rolled the ball towards an empty net but Graham O'Leary done exceptionally well to take the ball off the line.
John Murphy was claiming it had crossed the line and when he kicked away the ball he was shown a red card for a second yellow card offence. The Park kept the pressure on for the remaining minutes but were unable to find the much sought equaliser.
It was a difficult game to be in charge of because of its physicality but referee Derek O'Shea done and excellent job and came in for a lot of praise from the Carrick mentors and fans. It was tough luck on a gallant Park side who played their hearts out from start to finish and they will feel it was a game they could have won given the possession they enjoyed.
The Park: James Kelly, Con Barrett, Paudie Bailey, Shane Brosnan, Graham O'Leary, Fergal Maunsell, Mark O'Sullivan, Mike Conway, David Rogers, David Courtney, Adam O'Rourke. Subs: Jesse O'Sullivan for Mark O'Sullivan, Pa McCarthy for Adam O'Rourke
Carrick United: Adrian Walsh, Alan Redmond, Dale O'Mahony, James Walsh, Anthony O'Donnell, Eoghan Burke, Gerry Walsh, Lee Grace, Ian Clery, Anthony Power, John Murphy. Subs: Keith Walsh for James Walsh, Michael Clarkson for Gerry Walsh, Glen Keane for Ian Clery
Referee: Derek O'Shea