Sunday 25 August 2019

Super Ports setting their sights on Aviva decider

FAI Inter Cup

PJ Murray

Portmarnock are just one game away from the Aviva Stadium after a stunning win away to a highly-fancied Cherry Orchard side in the FAI Intermediate Cup quarter-final at the weekend.

Cherry Orchard 0 Portmarnock 3

Willie O'Leary's side have upset the odds in almost every round of this tournament, but Sunday's win has been the biggest shock by far. That was especially true as they were once again without several key players, including captain Dave Reddin.

Cherry Orchard tried to lay down the law from the outset and Darragh Coates was upended inside the first 30 seconds.

Indeed, the first five minutes was a fractious affair, leading to a free kick 35 yards from Cherry Orchard's goal. The free was delivered to the back post where Chris Burgess rose highest to head into the far corner and give the Paddy's Hill side a dream start.

Ports stood off their opponents and allowed them control the ball. Hero of the previous round, goalkeeper Robbie Byrne, was once again in flying form as he caught everything that came into his area.

Orchard's real threat came from corners, but Byrne's handling nullified the danger, while Ross Moran kept his composure in the middle of the pitch to provide Ports with opportunities to break.

Chances were at a real premium and the half finished with Ports taking a 1-0 lead into the break.

The second half began in a similar fashion to the first as the tackles went in fast and furious, with Orchard looking to once again impose themselves on the fixture.

Philip Rusk began to come more into the game and he was finding gaps in the Orchard defence. It was one of these runs which led to the second goal. The midfielder raced down the wing, twisting and turning his man inside out, and in space at the byeline he squared a pass to Darragh Coates. The striker made no mistake to hammer the ball home and instill a real sense of belief in the large travelling support.

The hosts' frustration soon boiled over and they were down to 10 men following a rash tackle.

Byrne was forced to make a brilliant reflex save when Orchard had a chance blocked by one of their own men and the ball wasn't cleared, allowing a snap shot from six yards out.

As the half wore on Orchard were reduced to long-range efforts and were struggling to test Byrne.

With time ticking down Chris Burgess found himself in space and be broke from deep. Going one-on-one with the keeper he saw his effort tipped onto the post by the keeper, but the rebound fell to second-half sub Graham Rusk who smashed the ball home to complete a famous win for the north County side.

Senior Sunday powerhouses Crumlin United and Bluebell play their quarter-final this Tuesday night, while also in the semi-final draw will be Letterkenny Rovers and the winners of Firhouse Clover and Ringmahon who drew 1-1 on Sunday morning. No matter who they are drawn against, though, Ports will head into the fixture knowing they have nothing to lose.

Portmarnock: Robbie Byrne, Callum Riches, Darren Kelly, Niall Kenny, Aaron Egan, Ross Moran, Noel McGinty, Chris Burgess, Philip Rusk, Darragh Coates (Alan O'Shaughnessy), Niall O'Connell (Graham Rusk).

Fingal Independent