Sunday 21 July 2019

Final countdown begins after late Duleek winner

Soccer: SFAI Under-14 North Leinster Cup semi-final - Duleek 3 Ardee Celtic 2

Cian Towey was the hero of the Tollstone on Saturday morning when his first-time strike flew past a helpless Andrew Wogan to put Duleek into the SFAI Under-14 North Leinster Final.

The goal came two minutes from the end of a titanic struggle that seemed to be going the way of the Ardee side in the second half.

Indeed, two wonderful Tadgh McDonnell goals seemed set to give them victory as they led 2-1 with six minutes left.

But Duleek, who are past masters of winning tight games, kept themselves in the contest and might well have levelled through the impressive Altay Guneyer, only for Oisin Roe to come up with a block on the line.

Moments later, Guneyer and the industrious Sean O'Halloran almost combined in front of goal, but from a subequent corner Evan Haddock powered his header to the net for 2-2.

Duleek gained the upper hand in a frantic finish and grabbed that dramatic late winner through Towey in some style.

Ardee had a last chance in injury time when James Maguire flashed a free kick just over the bar.

The game had all the ingredients of a close affair, with both teams having already made it to the last 16 of the National Cup the previous week.

Both keepers, Andrew Wogan and Nathan Kealy, had to bring off smart saves in the opening stages as Ardee's Emmet Smith, McDonnell and Sean Callaghan looked lively in attack but met a solid pairing of Joseph Colmey and Evan Haddock.

As the tie went on, Sean O'Hallloran's sublime touches lit up the place and it was no surprise that he would be the game-changer, cutting in and firing home on 25 minutes.

It could have been worse for Ardee three minutes later, with Guneyer bringing out the best in Wogan and the keeper being again tested by O'Halloran.

A last-ditch tackle from James Sands denied Dylan O'Boyle just on half-time.

Gary Malone would have wanted a lot more in the second half from Ardee - and he got it. McDonnell's corners were top-class, but it was his pace on 11 minutes that cut Duleek open, the left-sided player sprinting clear to lob the keeper - that after Guneyer had gone close at the other end moments earlier.

Raiding down the flanks, and with James Maguire dictating matters, Ardee hit the front 16 minutes into the half, with McDonnell's corner going all the way into the net.

Duleek, who face Shamrock Rovers or Cavan in the last 16 in the National Cup, will be looking forward to another cup final, while Ardee will get a second chance after this showing as they host East Meath United in the same competition in a few weeks' time.

Duleek: Nathan Kealy, Joseph Colmey, Liam Osborne, James McGarvey, Evan Haddock, Cian Towey, Sean O'Halloran, Mathew Brien, Dylan O'Boyle, Altay Guneyer, Adam Craven, Karl Miland, Colm Paisley, Tadgh Dixon.

Ardee: Andrew Wogan, Oisin Roe, Nathan Commins, James Maguire, Oisin Dowdall, Alan Reynolds, Darragh Roe, Sean Callaghan, Tadgh McDonnell, Leon Myles, James Sands, Aaron Kearney, Kyle Treadwell, Tom Kelly, Emmet Smith.

Drogheda Independent