MERVILLE ADVANCED to the next round of the Connacht U16 Cup with this exciting win over Dromore Villa in a Sligo derby at Cleveragh on Saturday.
Merville looked to their way to a comfortable win when they established a 3-0 lead midway through the first half but the West Sligo outfit battled back with commendable conviction and got the deficit down to 3-2 at one stage in the second period.
However, they were unable to sustain the momentum and Merville clinched victory with a fourth goal in the 66th minute.
Both sides carved out good chances in a lively opening - Kyle Cawley went close for Merville while Finian Cawley was just off target for Villa.
Ryan McCarrick almost broke the deadlock for Merville in the 7th minute but was denied by a smart save by Villa 'keeper, Ciaran Devaney. Minutes later, Villa were under pressure again and Devaney had to bring off a good save to keep out an effort from Nathan Rooney.
Merville's pressure finally paid off in the 13th minute when Kyle Cawley's well-struck long range effort gave Devaney no chance.
The West Sligo boys were still recovering from that blow when Merville struck again three minutes later. This time it was Nathan Rooney who inflicted the damage, finishing off a slick move with a well-taken goal.
At the other end, Villa came close to pulling a goal back in the 17th minute but there was nobody on hand to apply the finishing touch to Eamon Kilgannon's inviting cross.
Then, just when it appeared as if Villa were getting a grip in the game, Merville fashioned a third goal, a smart effort by Kyle Cawley.
Villa go the tonic they needed when Pat O'Connor's corner was turned into the net by the impressive Gavin Calpin.
And the West Sligo side were right back into contention when Calpin struck again in the 54th minute.
Merville refused to panic ,however, and made sure of their passage to the next round when Nathan Rooney found just enough room to force the ball home.
Villa, to their credit, kept battling right to the end and only a fine save by Niall Crowley denied Haydn Gilroy. On another occasion, the West Sligo side were out of luck when Joe McHugh's crisp shot clipped the upright as it flew wide.
N Crowley, M O'Donnell, A Flannery, C Keane, C Bak, D Scott, K Cawley, K Kenoy, R McCarrick, N Rooney, D O'Hara. Sub: O Kelly for McCarrick (50 mins)
C Devaney, C Murray, J McHugh, M Gordon, C Gillen, E Kilgannon, P O'Connor, F Cawley, H Gilroy, G Calpin, L Flatley. Subs: N Crean for Gillen (73 mins), C Gordon for Murray (77 mins), T Whitty for Kilgannon (77 mins) REFEREE: A Blanc