Match details below
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FAI JUNIOR CUP
Village United 2 Grattan United 2
(Village, in red, won 4-3 on penalties after extra time)
Sub Leslie Kepple whacked in the decisive penalty, the last of the regulation ten, as Village Utd advanced to the open draw of this season’s Statoil FAI Junior Cup with a thrilling shootout win over visitors Grattan Utd.
The Silverheights encounter promised much – and it delivered. The homesters raced into an early two goal lead but had a man sent off midway through the first half.
Jinty O’Sullivan was switched back to a sweeper role and Village held out until midway through the second half. Grattan then pulled one back and soon added another to take the tie to extra time. By that time Grattan themselves were down to ten, one of their players having picked up a second yellow with five minutes of normal time left.
Grattan endured a torrid start at Silverheights and found themselves two down after about ten minutes. It could have been worse. In the 2nd minute, Brian Sheehan chipped the ball over Adam Lynch but was just off target.
Sheehan soon got another opportunity and, thanks to a pass by Eric Burns, opened the account. And the Village account soon swelled to two, Conan Burns on target from an acute angle. Terry Lotty was outstanding for Village at this point and it was he who set up the second.
Village suffered a blow in the 22nd minute when a defender was red carded. But the home side were still having the better of it and came ever so close to a third in the 31st minute. Then a Jinty free broke loose in the box and both Lotty and Sheehan had shots blocked and the ball rebounded unpredictably in the six yard area before going behind off a Village player.
And Grattan were lucky again in the 38th minute. Then Sheehan reached a long free in by Rob O'Regan but his gentle touch, enough to beat Lynch, was inches wide.
Grattan, inspired by their two goal comeback against Glencairn in a previous round, took the game to Village after the break. And they came close in the 54th minute. Then, after a period of pressure on the right, young John Kearney, who had played with the AUL youths in the Cross on Friday night, squared the ball to John Paul O'Sullivan but he found keeper Jamie Donovan at his feet as he shot.
And Kearney was involved as Grattan pulled one back in the 68th minute. He found Mark O'Sullivan on the right. O'Sullivan jinked his way past the defence and his low cross was perfect for Darren Geaney who shot high past Donovan's left hand and into the top corner.
It was a sweet strike and inspired Grattan and they equalised in the 74th minute. This time there was a little bit of luck. An attempted Village clearance rebounded across the box. Mark O’Sullivan latched onto it and his cool finish past the advancing Donovan made it all square.
Grattan were now going for it but Donovan was defiant. In the 79th minute, Mark O’Sullivan and sub Damien Peelo combined and set up Geaney but the keeper saved as he did five minutes later when Denis Cremin’s cross found Eric Shinkwin.
Grattan lost their man advantage in the 85th minute when their man picked up his second yellow from referee Flor Mehigan.
Village were unlucky not to take the tie in the first period of extra time. A shot from the left by Alan O'Brien came down off the bar and sub Will O’Callaghan let fly but was blocked at close quarters by the defence.
The most significant move of the second period was the introduction of Kepple by the Village management trio, a move that would pay dividends when he slotted home the final penalty of the ten kick shootout. Fellow subs Cooney and O'Callaghan, along with the ever reliable Jinty, had previously netted for the winners who had been given a first exchange boost by Donovan's save from Cremin.