LETTERKENNY INSTITUTE OF TECHNOLOGY agonisingly lost out to Dundalk Institute of Technology in today’s CUFL Division 1 final in Clones.
Letterkenny Institute of Technology 2 Dundalk Institute of Technology 3
Goals in quick succession from Reece McAleer and Ciaran Cluskey Kelly handed Stephen O’Donnell’s Dundalk the silverware after Letterkenny looked to upset the odds.
Anthony Appiah’s first-half brace had Letterkenny ahead, but the second half saw Dundalk hit back on a day when Shane Byrne’s LyIT found the refereeing of Paul McGeown frustrating, to say the least.
Late in the game, for instance, Paul McVeigh was clattered by Ciaran O’Connor on the edge of the box and McGeown awarded Dundalk the free, while a collision between Kirk and his own defender resulted in a free to the DkIT men.
It was just one in a succession of decisions that could, at best, be described as bizarre.
Letterkenny were fuming when McGeown stopped the play as Daire McDaid’s lob into the penalty area was flying through the Clones air to award Dundalk a free. Heads were scratched when McGeown then changed his mind to give Dundalk a goal kick after players had stopped the chase.
Appiah’s first-half double strike had Letterkenny dreaming when 2-1 up at half-time.
Sean O’Connor put Dundalk ahead in the 11th minute, but Appiah’s double swung the pendulum before half-time.
The equaliser came on 20 minutes when Dean Larkin’s threaded pass rolled out into Appiah’s path and he drilled magnificently into the top corner from the left-hand side.
Goalkeeper David Kirk was beaten at his near post, but such was Appiah’s accuracy, the netminder couldn’t be blamed.
Appiah gave Letterkenny the lead from almost an identical position 12 minutes later, this time his low shot bouncing over Kirk and into the net.
Letterkenny were rocked when Dundalk drew level in the 71st minute as McAleer shot past Mark McElhinney after latching onto Dan Hand’s pass.
The winner arrived when Cluskey Kelly stooped to head home from Conor McDonald’s free.
The game had inititally been pencilled in for the grass pitch at The Peace Link, but when it was ruled to be unplayable the tie was switched to the 3G pitch at the impressive facility.
It was Letterkenny who started the brighter and it took them only 11 seconds to carve out the first chance when Liam Doherty’s cross broke to Larkin and his fine shot was well saved by Kirk.
Kirk was drawn into action soon after when Brian McVeigh’s diagonal shot flew through the DkIT rearguard.
Dundalk soon settled and Mark McElhinney did well to save well from Shaun Bannon’s 20-yard effort after Sean O’Connor’s long ball held up on the surface to cause some trouble for the Letterkenny side.
Dundalk took the lead on 11 minutes when Conor McDonald’s free kick wasn’t deald with and Sean O’Connor swivveled to fire home a goal that will have had manager Byrne tearing his hair out.
Appiah headed over from Liam Doherty’s corner, but the Bonagee United attacker’s double had LyIT in front just past the half-hour mark.
In between times, Paul McVeigh was denied by Kirk just as he attemped to pull the trigger.
Paul McVeigh did beat Kirk with a header late in the half when he connected with Daire McDaid’s deep free, but the offside flag cut short the celebrations.
Letterkenny were becoming increasingly incensed with the refeerring of Paul McGeown.
They were denied a third goal eight minutes into the second half when Dom Mahon hacked away Peter Doherty’s header beneath the crossbar and things became heated on the hour.
An over-the-top challenge by O’Connor on Letterkenny’s Fearghal Harkin had the Letterkenny bench incensed and McGeogh sent off LyIT coach Paddy McGranaghan.
With Appiah and Paul McVeigh proving good outlets, industrious Letterkenny had been looking good for a triumph – but were stunned when DkIT netted twice in four minutes to take the win.
Yet, they had been rather more stunned by the man in the middle.
Letterkenny Institute of Technology: Mark McElhinney; Caolan McDaid, Peter Doherty, Jamie Boyle, Fearghal Harkin; Liam Doherty (Ryan Connolly ’77), Brian McVeigh, Daire McDaid, Anthony Appiah; Paul McVeigh, Dean Larkin.
Dundalk Institute of Technology: David Kirk; Craig Pentony, Ciaran Cluskey Kelly, Ciaran O’Connor, Reece McAleer; Sean Matthews (Dan Hand ’46), Dom Mahon, Owen Armstrong; Conor McDonald, Sean O’Connor; Shaun Bannon (Manuel ’85).
Referee: Paul McGeown.Tags: