Fingal Independent

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'Extra' special as Rush reach quarter-finals

FAI Junior Cup 7th round: Rush Athletic 1 Greencastle 0

Barry McAllister's goal in extra time was enough to give Rush Athletic victory against Donegal side Greencastle in St Catherine's Park on Sunday afternoon.

The game had been billed as the biggest in Rush's history and the players rose to the occasion as they reached the FAI Junior Cup quarter-finals for the first time.

Rush's recent renaissance has been well documented, with the club on the verge of returning to intermediate football. Before they make that leap, however, they would love nothing more than an extended run in the FAI Junior Cup and they had a chance to reach the last eight here against Donegal's Greencastle who they beat in the same competition four years ago.

Rush came on to the pitch to be greeted by a large number of home supporters on this historic day for the club, with a huge amount of work having been done behind the scenes to ensure the pitch and grounds were in immaculate condition.

The tie began with both sides feeling each other out and with so much at stake it was perhaps understandable that both sides weren't committing too many bodies forward early on.

It took until just past the quarter hour mark for Rush to create the first opening of the game as prolific striker McAllister forced Greencastle keeper Dylan Doherty to push the ball away to safety. From the resulting corner Greencastle received possession and broke quickly, with striker Ronan Dickson forcing Stephen Kirwan in the Rush goal into a fine save.

As the half progressed Greencastle began to enjoy more of the ball, but they found Rush a tough nut to crack, with the home defence well organised.

A very even 45 minutes ended with Rush going close right on the stroke of half-time as Jonathan Hanratty watched his deft header just go wide.

The second half saw the wind pick up markedly, which led to plenty of errors as the game began to get a little scrappy.

Both sides did manage to create a couple of decent chances, with McAllister going close for Rush and Ronan Doherty shooting just wide for the visitors.

With time running out both sides began to open up, which made for an entertaining final ten minutes. None came closer to breaking the deadlock than McAllister who again tested the Greencastle goalkeeper with a fine effort and that was the last real chance of an evenly matched 90 minutes.

Rush began extra time brightly and deservedly broke the deadlock mid-way through the first period.

McAllister, who had looked dangerous all day, finally got the goal his play deserved as he swivelled before finding the bottom corner to send the home fans into raptures.

Greencastle had to take risks now and in doing so they almost conceded a second, with McAllister going close to doubling Rush's lead.

The second half of extra time saw Greencastle throw everything but the kitchen sink at Rush in an attempt to force the tie to penalties. However, Rush's young side showed experience beyond their years as they defended heroically to seal a famous win.

Rush Athletic: Stephen Kirwan, Ryan Beggs, Alan Kerslake, Rory Byrne, Aaron Kelly, Bryce Ndjtang, Brian Gillian, Jake Kenna, Barry McAllister, Dylan Kelly, Jonathan Hanratty.

Fingal Independent