For Cappry Rovers, it was one of those days that will leave a lingering sense of ‘what if?’ for some time.
Cappry Rovers 0 Moyne Rangers 1
Cappry fell behind to Sean Kenny’s fourth-minute goal and Wexford side Moyne Rangers held onto that lead to move into the last 16 of the FAI Junior Cup.
You felt the game was there for Cappry to get back into, but they rarely threatened to breach the Moyne rearguard in the second half.
Cappry had had their moments in the first half and there was still plenty of optimism in the air at the break. Moyne, to their credit, held firm in the second period, but Cappry will surely feel as if they could have got themselves back into it.
Disaster struck for the hosts as Moyne hit the front after only four minutes. John Pearse’s inviting free from the right-hand side was headed back across goal by Richie Farrell and Sean nodded off the bar and in for the lead goal.
Cappry shook the sleep from their heads and almost made an immediate impact.
Calvin Bradley thought he had drawn Cappry level when he steered home after Paddy McNulty bravely beat Mayne goalkeeper Anto Larkin to Oisin Gallen’s free.
With the ball floating in the Ballybofey air, neither gave an inch with McNulty just getting ahead of Larkin, but the Cappry attacker had strayed offside by inches.
The offside flag of Joe McHugh cut shot the celebrations and the game was stopped for eight minutes as McNulty and Larkin were treated following the heavy collision.
Cappry were without Cathal McShane, Alan Gethins and Trevor Gethins, but late arrival Ronan McNamee was able to line out.
Cappry went direct again and Bradley was perhaps caught by surprise himself and headed into the grateful arms of Larkin from just inside the box.
It has been a solid campaign so far, if not a little stop-start for Cappry, who have played only five games in the Premier Division so far. Cappry, promoted to the top flight again last season, have played only five games and with just one loss – to leaders Kildrum – are hopeful of getting themselves into contention for honours.
They almost levelled here on 42 minutes, but left-back Paddy O’Connor’s volley grazed the crossbar on the way over after Gerard Melaugh’s ball in was only partially cleared.
That came after Cappry survived a real scare down the other end when Farrell’s speculative ball in from long-range forced Conor McBride, the Cappry netminder, to push the ball onto his bar.
Moyne sent a warning across the Cappry brows in added time when centre-back Patrick O’Shea powered a header just over the top.
Cappry had beaten Sandyhill Shangan in Dublin before Christmas with Aaron Kelly and McNulty netting in a 2-1 win that followed local wins over Drumoghill, Illies and Glenea in the early rounds.
Benny McLaughlin tested Larkin’s palms with a free early in the second half after Pearse drilled over the top for Mayne.
With McNulty playing a deep-lying role, Cappry weren’t under any undue pressure themselves, but could have done with him as a target.
McLaughlin did get on the end of a long ball from Darren O’Leary ten minutes from the end, but was wide with his effort, while the same player, just moments earlier, tried his luck with a half-volley that was always rising.
The clock ticked until, finally, Cappry had run out of time and the run to the Aviva, for them, is over for another season.
Cappry Rovers: Conor McBride, Oisin Gallen (Conor Doherty 75), Paddy O’Connor (Joel Bradley-Walsh 83), Darren McGowan, Darren O’Leary, Ronan McNamee, Gerard Melaugh (Niall Gallagher 75), Paddy McNulty, Aaron Kelly, Calvin Bradley, Benny McLaughlin.
Moyne Rangers: Anto Larkin, Rory O’Connor, Sean Burke, Patrick O’Shea, Richie Farrell, Conor Bryce, Ryan Mahon (Dillon Redmond 64), Sean Kenny, Peter O’Rourke (Glenn Buckley 73), James Pearse, John Pearse.
Referee: Paddy Martin.