PLAYER-MANAGER DARA PATTON was the shoot-out hero as Rathmullan Celtic defeated Gweedore Celtic in the FAI Junior Cup at Flagpole Park.
Rathmullan Celtic 1 Gweedore Celtic 1 (after extra time. Rathmullan win 5-4 on penalties)
The sides shared the spoils after a game that was dominated by Rathmullan (pictured above), but it was the home side who kept their cool when it came to the penalties.
After eight successful spot-kicks, four from each side, Jay Dee Alawiye struck the inside of the post and it was left to Patton, who fire home the winner.
It was rough justice on Gweedore goalkeeper Chris Sweeney, who had a storming game and who his side had to thank for getting them the length of the shoot-out.
Gweedore took the lead in the third minute. Sweeney’s long clearance made its way deep into Rathmullan territory, where Eamon McGee challenged Shea Coyle in the air. Neither made contact, but Chris McFadden raced in behind to stroke past Ian Strain from 12 yards.
Rathmullan responded and in the next two minutes went close, but Eamon Sheridan was just wide and Kevin Doran found the angle too acute after going in along the end line.
In the 12th minute, after a poorly-taken corner by Gweedore, Rathmullan broke and Niall Carruthers’ cross found Eamonn Sheridan, but he couldn’t get any power behind a shot.
Ian Strain, Rathmullan’s ‘keeper was called into action by Eamon McGee after Brendan McGeady showed great skill before laying off.
Rathmullan drew level on 24 minutes and it was as much down to poor defending as a good finish by Carruthers, who was allowed to pick up possession from Jamesie Gallagher’s throw-in.
Carruthers advanced unchallenged and unleashed a cracking low drive to the corner of the net.
The only other chance of the half was when Sweeney saved easily after Kevin Doran got on the end of an Eamonn Sheridan cross that was originally intended for Ryan Connolly.
Rathmullan had strong appeals for a penalty in the opening minute of the second half when Eamonn Sheridan appeared to be upended, but referee Joe McHugh waved away the protests.
On the hour, Gweedore’s Chris McFadden broke away from a couple of tackles but the angle was somewhat narrow and Strain pushed his shot out for a corner.
Seven minutes later, a strong burst by Eoin Sheridan saw him feed Doran. From ten yards out, and in the centre of the goal, he saw his attempt brilliantly saved by the feet of Sweeney.
Rathmullan dominated the latter exchanges. Eoin Sheridan was just wide from 20 yards and Eamonn Sheeridan headed off target from a good position.
Rathmullan turned the screw in the closing moments, but Sweeney kept them at bay, saving from Eamon Sherdian and then Ryan McCullagh.
In a frenetic finish to extra time, Sweeney saved a cracking effort from Doran and Eamonn Sheridan was inches from winning it, but he hit the post from three yards after McCullagh flicked on Doran’s corner.
It all meant penalties – and player-boss Patton was the match-winner.
Rathmullan Celtic: Ian Strain, Derek Edward, Jamesie Gallagher (Paddy Sheridan ’66), Alan Boal, Shea Coyle (Ryan Gildea, half-time), Ryan McCullagh, Ryan Connolly, Eoin Sheridan, Eamonn Sheridan, Kevin Doran, Niall Carruthers (Dara Patton ’96).
Gweedore Celtic: Christopher Sweeney, Eugene Ferry (Danny McGarvey ’69), Ryan Kelly, Paul McBride, Joseph Bonner, Damien O’Sullivan, Brendan McGeady, Chris McFadden (Sean O’Donnell ’91), Eamon McGee, Chris Porter, Declan Doherty (Jay Dee Alawiye ’55).
Referee: Joe McHugh