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Passage v Greenmount Rangers 27.03.04

Passagex v Greenmountx Rangers 27.03.04
Match details below
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Passage 0 Greenmount Rangers 1
(after extra time)

Greenmount Rangers (green/white), winners of the coveted AOH Cup for the past two seasons, are still dreaming of a hat trick, a feat that no club has achieved in the long history of the competition.

Donal O'Shea struck the extra time winner as Rangers defeated hosts Passage 1-0 in Saturday's fifth round replay at Rockenham. The result means Greenmount have clinched a quarter-final place  against either Macroom or Hill Celtic. And their spirited performance, under joint managers Ger Long and Sean Walsh, suggested that a revival in the Premier League would soon be underway.

This fifth round replay was a hard fought contest. Little in it until O’Shea’s low shot beat home keeper Eric Calahane in the first period of extra time.

Indeed, Passage themselves felt they had scored a legitimate goal in the 66th minute. Passage, at that point, had been enjoying a good spell. Paul Coughlan floated a free kick accurately into the box and James O'Leary headed home but referee John Thompson awarded a free out for offside against the scorer, a decision that left home manager John Murphy puzzled.

Greenmount had the first big chance and that came in the 6th minute, following a great cross from the right by the evergreen Shane McSweeney. He found intended target Mick O'Leary but the Greenmount skipper was unable to control the flying ball and the opportunity vanished.

Ten minutes later, a long drive by O'Shea forced Passage keeper Eric Calahane to dive to his right to parry. Mick O'Leary pounced on the loose ball but drove just wide.

Passage had ex League of Ireland performer Coughlan playing in the centre-forward position. Midway through, after a spell of pressure by the home side, he hustled international Brendan Cronin off the ball but his volley on the turn flew just wide with Greenmount’s stand-in keeper Bertie Lane scrambling to his right.

The biggest let off of the first half came in the its last minute. Passage only half cleared a throw  ball from the right by McSweeney and it broke for Eddie Cotter. He let fly from 30 yards or so but his fiercely hit drive came back off the bar.

And there was another big escape for John Murphy's harboursiders in the opening minute of the second half.  Then Chris Irwin skilfully curled a low free kick round the Greenmount wall. It was heading for the corner until Calahane dived to his left and saved and he also saved O’Shea’s effort from the rebound.

Passage were cut apart on the right in the 58th minute. Greenmount full back Pat Tynan raided up the flank and passed to McSweeney who freed Mick O'Leary who, in turn, played the ball in behind the defence for Tynan who had kept running. His cross produced shouts of handball but Rangers had to settle for a corner. And nothing came of that.

Then came that disallowed goal and, in the very next minute, Lane did well to save a Mark O’Sullivan shot, after another Passage free had been half cleared.

The next big escape though came at the other end, in the 76th minute. Greenmount's inter-league full back Gearoid O'Leary set the move going with a past to his skipper and namesake Mickey. Mickey slipped it to Cronin in the box and he found sub Conor Fitzgerald whose close range shot was straight at the keeper, who nonetheless deserves quite a lot of credit for the point blank save.

Cronin was capable of beating marker Derek O'Brien and he did it again in the 83rd minute and freed Gearoid for a low cross that found sub Steven Heaphy beyond the far post. Heaphy though was closed down quickly by two defenders.

Passage came close to taking the tie four minutes into injury time. Then Coughlan headed the ball down into the path of the hard-working Mark O’Sullivan. He got right into the box and the ball broke to sub Chris McSweeney but, under pressure, he shot wide.

The winner came six minutes into the first period of extra time and followed quite a good build-up, began by McSweeney on the right. He passed to Conor Fitzgerald who in turn laid it forward to Heaphy. Heaphy outfoxed his marker close to the end-line and crossed low towards the penalty spot where midfielder O’Shea arrived on cue to whack the ball low past Calahane.

Just on the blow for the interval, Heaphy set up a shooting chance for his captain but Michael O'Leary's shot was well saved by the diving Calahane.

Passage had two half chances in the second period of extra time. Firstly, in the opening minute, veteran Coughlan left marker Ger Long for dead in the box but his instant left footed shot, not from the best of angles, flew high and was well off target.

A few minutes later, 17 year old sub Simon McGarry soloed through and let fly but stand-in keeper Lane dived to concede the corner that Passage were unable to turn to their advantage. It was to the last clear opportunity for the losers.

Passage: Eric Calahane, Gary Prout, Mervyn O’Connor, John Gaffney, Gavin O’Connor, Senan Andrews, James O’Leary (captain), Mark O'Sullivan, Paul Coughlan, Clifton Gaffney and Derek O’Brien. Subs used: Chris McSweeney for C. Gaffney (69th minute) and Simon McGarry for Andrews (85th).
Greenmount Rangers: Bertie Lane, Pat Tynan, Gearoid O'Leary, Steven McCarthy, Ger Long, Chris Irwin, Donal O’Shea, Eddie Cotter, Shane McSweeney, Michael O'Leary (captain) and Brendan Cronin. Subs used: Conor Fitzgerald for Cotter (49th minute) and Steven Heaphy for Irwin (81st).
Referee: John Thompson.