Wicklow Cup: Newtown 2 Avonmore 1
Defending Wicklow Cup champions Newtown survived an almighty scare from an exceptionally unlucky Avonmore side at the Matt Kelly Memorial Grounds last Sunday morning.
Goals from Ross Davis and Shane Doyle were replied to by a late Callum Pursey penalty but as much as the visitors pressed they could not get the equaliser.
With Avonmore in great form in the league they were expected to push the champions to the limit, and they did not disappoint.
It was the visitors first on the offensive with ex Newtown striker Ryan Cahill's perseverance winning a free-kick. From Cian O'hannain's cross, Mark Miley just glanced an effort across goal and wide.
With challenges fierce and every ball battled over, chances were few and far between early on.
Newtown's first chance of note saw Evan Moran pull a ball back from the end line and midfield dynamo Ross Davis curl an effort just past the post.
Cahill was a constant menace to the Newtown rearguard but was living on scraps as it was a real battle of attrition in midfield.
Eventually a breakthrough came in the 33rd minute. Once more, Moran showed tremendous trickery down the left flank he hoisted a cross into the area, Brandon Feehily showed terrific poise to cushion the ball into Davis' path and the midfielder's placed drive struck the inside of the post before nestling in Ger Byrne's net.
Avonmore came back stronger with Miley showing a tremendous eye for a pass they created their best chances of the half with Adam Tuke blazing an effort over and Cahill just off target with a low drive before Eugene Dunne had an opening where he would be disappointed not to work the keeper.
The last attack of the half saw a long Newtown ball over the top release Dillon Carthy in on goal and just as he was to pull the trigger Paddy Kavanagh made a tremendous last-ditch tackle to deny the dangerman.
On the resumption, Avonmore, playing with a strong breeze, took the game to Newtown again without really creating any clear-cut chances. Glen Carthy and Neil Martin were resolute, and Davis seemed to be playing a deeper role in the second period.
Indeed, Carthy made a great interception when Kaelum Broghan pulled a dangerous ball into the area with Cahill loitering with intent.
On 57 minutes, Newtown doubled their lead slightly against the run of play. Shane Doyle and Sean Heffernan played a clever one two to put Doyle clear and as the defence closed in the front man rocketed a shot into keeper Byrne's top left-hand corner from about 20 yards out.
Newtown sensed blood and were nearly in again soon after when Heffernan had a shot saved by Byrne and Doyle's follow up lobbed just wide.
Adam Tuke had a long-range effort just over from Avonmore, but the match seemed to be meandering to a conclusion with Newtown's experience and game management frustrating Avonmore.
However, a lifeline arrived for the visitors on 70 minutes. Dunne gathered ball 30 yards from goal and his reverse ball into the path of Callum Pursey saw the attacking right back felled by the Newtown defence. Referee Carl Doyle showed no hesitation in pointing to the spot. Pursey stepped up to drill to the keeper's left.
Avonmore tried hard but apart from a slight opening near the end where Dunne had an effort blocked away the Newtown rearguard remained resolute.
An even contest where the greater experience of the Newtown team overall was ultimately the difference. Avonmore look every bit a Premier team in waiting and will definitely add to the top flight if, as expected, they get promoted this year.
Best for Avonmore was Callum Pursey and Mark Miley with Dan Byrne solid at the back.
For the victors the defence was strong. Glen Carthy and goalkeeper Ken Turner were solid, however, man of match was Ross Davis.
He got the crucial goal in the first half and against the elements in the second period showed great discipline to play in a deeper role and help snuff out the dangerous Avonmore attack.
Newtown: 1. Ken Turner, 2. Barry Davis, 3. Neil Martin, 4. PJ Dowling, 5. Glen Carthy, 6. Ross Davis, 7. Sean Heffernan, 8. Evan Moran, 9. Shane Doyle, 10. Dillon Carthy, 11. Brandon Feehily. Subs: 12. Dean Odlum, 13. Aaron Byrne, 14. Karl Carthy, 15. Martin Williams.
Avonmore: 1. Ger Byrne, 2. Callum Pursey, 3. Paddy Kennedy, 4. James Byrne, 5. Dan Byrne, 6. Kaelum Broghan, 7. Cian O'hannain, 8. Mark Miley, 9. Eugene Dunne, 10. Ryan Cahill, 11. Adam Tuke. Subs: 12. Johnny Arthur, 13. Mark Cullen.
Referee: Carl Doyle