Harp United v Central Rovers April 2006

CITY CHALLENGE CUP, 2nd round 23/4/06

Harp United 3 Central Rovers 3
(Central won 3-2 on penalties)

Second division Central Rovers were forced to take the shootout route to victory by a game Harp United outfit when the sides contested a second round tie in the Murphy’s Stout City Challenge Cup at Monard on a sunny Sunday morning.

Harp skipper Alan Molloy and strike partner Willie O'Brien had ran the Central defence ragged during the game itself but failed to deliver in the shootout where a save by Central keeper Paul McCarthy proved crucial. McCarthy had played well after an early error gifted Harp their opener.

Central sub Darren “George” McCarthy was perhaps the unluckiest player on the field but he still managed to play a huge role as they three times came from behind to take the tie to extra time. George hit the post and bar as Central, in a spell of late normal time dominance, threatened to take victory without the prolongation.

Favourites Central looked good early on. James Mullins was narrowly wide with a first minute low drive and then midfielder Dave Purcell saw his penalty box shot go wide off a colleague.

Third division Harp got their noses in front in the 17th minute. The dodgy Central defence failed to clear a long free in by Harp full back Hennessey. It skidded off a defender’s head and surprised keeper McCarthy who failed to hold it. Molloy cracked it home from close-in.

Willie O'Brien was then narrowly wide with a terrific 25th minute volley and then almost profited from another Central error but his 30th minute strike saw McCarthy make a decent save.

Central lost midfielder James Russell to injury but came up with a 33rd minute equaliser, Tommy Mullins on target with a well placed far post header after a terrific cross from the right by James Mullins.

Harp though restored their lead four minutes from the interval. Then after a good passing move, O'Brien made a great run towards the end line and pulled the ball back for the incoming Molloy to score, again from close range.

Sub McCarthy was involved as Central squared the game ten minutes into the second half. A back-heel by scorer Mullins saw him threaten in the box and his hopes of a goal for himself were ended when David Wallace brought him down. Tommy Mullins stepped up to convert the penalty.

Chances continued at both ends. Following a 58th minute McCarthy free, scorer Mullins came close to a hat trick with a powerful far post header that flew just wide of the other stick. Minutes later, Molloy put O'Brien in at the other end but the drive was inches away.

A sweeping Harp move led to them going 3-2 up in the 70th minute, O’Brien on target after a through ball by Molloy and a sweet touch by sub Cian Horgan.

Jamie Murray then put McCarthy in but the Harp keeper made a fine save in the 75th minute. Harp could have sealed it in the 84th minute. Then Denis O’Brien cut through on the right, racing from halfway before his shot was stopped brilliantly by keeper McCarthy.

Central equalised three minutes from time. Jamie Mullins set McCarthy up for a penalty box shot that hit the butt of the near post. Tommy Mullins chested back into the six yard box and Mark O'Mahony touched it home to make it 3-3.

They could have won it with just over a minute to go. Then McCarthy got in a smashing header from a cross by Tommy Mullins but keeper Fitzgerald just managed to touch it onto the bar.

In extra time, McCarthy had a shot taken off the line by Molloy and Central keeper McCarthy saved well from O'Brien before going on to do the business in the shootout.

Harp United: Colm Fitzgerald, Ger Hennessey, Pat Lane, Timmy Wilson, Mick Delea, David Wallace, Denis O'Brien, Stephen O’Connell, Alan Molloy (captain), Willie O'Brien and John Nagle. Subs used: Cian Horgan for Nagle (56th minute) and Derry Crowley for Hennessey (73rd).
Central Rovers: Paul McCarthy, Andrew Maher, Richard Ivors, Mark O’Mahony, Paul Connolly (captain), Dave Purcell, James Mullins, James Murray, Keith Callan, Tommy Mullins and James Russell. Sub used: Darren McCarthy for Russell (31st minute, injured).
Referee: John Gaffney.

end of story