LATE GOALS BY Pajo Rafferty and substitute Sean McCarron gave Letterkenny Rovers victory in the FAI Intermediate Cup last 32 played at the Aura Leisure Centre pitch against Midleton.
Letterkenny Rovers 3
The visitors had the better of a first-half which was dominated by defences and could have taken the lead in the 8th minute when Lee Toland lost possession and his teammate Conor Tourish was forced to make an excellent block tackle to deny Midleton’s James Leahy from opening the scoring.
Chances were few and far between and despite having most of the ball the Cork team didn’t really create any real openings. Indeed the game’s next best opening was in the 40th minute when Toland’s cross found Pajo Rafferty who’s volley was just wide.
Just when it looked like a scoreless first-half the visitors took a deserted lead into half-time. After a good exchange of passes in Rovers half the ball was played through to James Leahy and when his shot was blocked the ball fell into the path of Jake Hegarty and he slotted home from ten yards out in the 48th minute.
Hegarty had a chance to make it 2-0 a minute into the second-half after a great run by full-back John Keane but snatched at the chance. Five minutes later in the 51st minute Rovers were level, Kevin Mc Grath threaded the ball through and Pajo Rafferty showed a cool head to round keeper O Donaghue before slotting home to make it 1-1.
Rovers boss Eamonn Mc Conigley introduced both Sean Mc Carron and Stevie Akakpu-Omeka in the 63rd minute as he went for the win but the game remained at 1-1 until the 80th minute and then the goals that decided it arrived.
Midleton regained the lead with a brilliant effort from centre- back Gary Collins who curled a beauty into Rory Kelly’s top corner after a couple of shots by teammates had been blocked following a corner and an away win looks likely.
However Rovers had other ideas and in the v85th minute equalised for a second time. Rafferty chased Rory Kelly’s long kick-out and as the Midleton back four hesitated the striker showed a cool head yet again to slot home and make it 2-2.
The visitors hit back and Jake Hegarty’s header beat Kelly but hit the crossbar and seconds later Lee Toland’s long ball put sub Sean Mc Carron in the clear and he drilled the ball past O’Donaghue for a dramatic Rovers winning goal.
The drama wasn’t over however as in one last attack Midleton’s Kelvin Kruschel almost earned his team a replay but rovers managed to block him out clear the final bit of danger and with that secure a place in the last 16 of the Intermediate Cup.
Letterkenny Rovers: Rory Kelly; David Shovlin, Lee Toland, Conor Tourish, Ryan Gildea, Chris Flanagan, Kevin McGrath, Chris Malseed, Darren McElwaine, Christy Conaghan, Pajo Rafferty. Subs: Sean Mc Carron and Stevie Okakpu-Omeka for Mc Elwaine and Flanagan (both 63), Garbhan Grant for Rafferty (90).
Midleton: Andrew O’Donaghue, James Mc Carthy, John Keane, Kevin Murray, Gary Collins, Ian Maher, TJ Aibor , James Leahy, Jake Hegarty, Kelvin Kruschel, Andrew Knowles. Sub: Adam Wilson for Leahy (90).
Referee: Michael Connolly.Tags: