Sunday 16 June 2019

O'Reilly to the 'four'

Soccer, Wicklow Cup Quarter-Final: St Anthony's 10 Arklow United A 1

Conor Blaney of Arklow United ‘A’ and Patrick Woods of St Anthony’s battle for possession
Conor Blaney of Arklow United ‘A’ and Patrick Woods of St Anthony’s battle for possession

Paddy Hickey at Finn Park

Kyle O'Reilly struck for a stunning four-goal haul as St Anthony's achieved the magnificent feat of reaching double figures in this Wicklow Cup quarter-final tie at Finn Park on Sunday morning.

Two minutes before half-time in the one-sided contest, which started an hour late owing to Arklow United 'A' believing it was due to commence at 12.30 instead of 11.00, the home side's No 11 opened his account, helping the Kilcoole outfit to a 4-1 lead at the break.

And on the restart, O'Reilly found the net on three occasions, and with a bit of luck could have added two more goals, being narrowly off target with an overhead attempt and also forcing a brilliant save from Arklow goalkeeper Dean Flood-Hayes.

Next in line was Darren Collopy, who weighed in two goals, and the remaining four efforts which beat Flood-Hayes were contributed by Patrick Woods, Dan Lacey, Lorcan Kenna and Cillian Thompson.

It all added up to a miserable 90 minutes for Arklow, whose lone goal was scored by midfielder Cian Li.

Right from the opening whistle blown by French native referee Dominic Lachaussee, St Anthony's shaped as the more impressive side, both on an individual and collective basis, and their early dominance was reflected in the fact that they forced two corners in the opening four minutes.

As well, Flood-Hayes had to make an excellent save to prevent the home team from taking the lead after four minutes, and the visiting goalkeeper was called into similar action two minutes later.

At the other end of the pitch, striker, Zach Kilbride, who displayed nice touches and excellent control throughout the game, provided Arklow with some significant encouragement when he created a scoring chance for himself before driving the ball wide of the left post.

But in the wake of the two fruitless corners, their third corner reaped handsome dividends for St Anthony's, when, following a goalmouth scramble, Lacey opened the scoring after 14 minutes.

Almost immediately, a brilliant run by Lacey almost led to his side's second goal, O'Reilly being foiled at the end of the move by Flood-Hayes at the expense of another corner.

However, the action switched quickly to the other end of the pitch, and Li struck a peach of a goal for Arklow from approximately 40 yards, catching St Anthony's goalkeeper Rob McNamee well off his line, to pull his side back to parity.

But the stalemate ensured for only about eight minutes, Woods driving the ball into the roof of the net from about 20 yards to restore St Anthony's advantage.

This score was quickly followed by Kenna being just marginally too high with a long-range goal attempt, and by Collopy providing O'Reilly with a goal chance which came to nothing.

Five minutes from half-time, Lacey extended St Anthony's lead, and almost on the short whistle, O'Reilly did very well to beat Flood-Hayes at his near post, when the goalkeeper seemed to have the situation covered, leaving the home side three goals up at the change of ends.

The second half was only five minutes old when O'Reilly found the net again, after being set up by a great ball from Collopy.

And the creator of the fifth goal got on the scoresheet himself on 54 minutes, when he availed of a mis-kick by an Arklow defender, before the same player made it 7-1 when he headed home seven minutes later following an excellent ball from full-back Declan Roper.

On 69 minutes, O'Reilly struck for his third goal, and four minutes later full-back Thompson got in on the scoring act.

Then Roper struck the bar with a blistering shot, and just before the final whistle O'Reilly added to Arklow's agony with his final goal.

Understandably, St Anthony's manager Wes Dempsey was delighted with the quality of his team's display.

"It was a great performance all round and the lads never took their foot off the gas," he remarked following his side's impressive march to the last-four stage of the competition.

"They played very well, both as individuals and on a collective basis, and I can't remember when we last scored 10 goals in a match. And it was additionally encouraging that we showed tremendous composure and self-belief after Arklow had equalised at 1-1.

"As well, we kept it very tight at the back, and we punished Arklow a lot of the time when we created scoring chances.

"And the win is even more satisfying as Arklow play in the Premier Division while we're in Division One.

"But we know that on our day we're as good as any team in Wicklow."

Arklow boss Kevin Scanlon refused to blame the confusion over the starting time, which resulted in a rushed journey to Kilcoole, as an excuse for his side's disappointing performance.

"We were caught a little bit off guard at the start, but that wouldn't be an excuse for the way we played," said the ex USA soccer scholarship student.

"We could have started much better but still we did well to equalise at 1-1.

"We have a very young team and we were missing a lot of players through college commitments, injury, holidays and lads who have gone playing GAA.

"In fact, our best players are some of Arklow's and Wicklow's best GAA players.

"We've had a very difficult season and the lads' heads go down very quickly when we lose a few matches.

"Moving up the Premier Division after winning the First Division was a big step-up for the lads, and there aren't enough players in Arklow to support the three senior clubs.

"We've four games left in the Premier and we'll re-group for next season after that."

ST ANTHONY'S: Rob McNamee; Declan Roper, Cillian Thompson, Stephen Hunt, Stafford Quaid, Lorcan Kenna, Dan Lacey, Lee Dutton, Patrick Woods. Darren Collopy, Kyle O'Reilly.

ARKLOW UNITED 'A': Dean Flood-Hayes; Aaron Bermingham, Dylan Smith, Eddie McLoughlin, Shane Connolly, Cian Li, Conor McLoughlin, Conor Blaney, Zach Kilbride, Alan O'Neill, Trevor Fitzgerald.

REFEREE: Dominic Lachaussee.

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