(Crystal won 5-4 on penalties)
The weather was hot on Sunday afternoon and the football on offer at Ozier Park was even hotter as two very fine sides produced a scorcher of a match.
St Saviour’s were leading two-nil with only 15 minutes remaining but Waterford Crystal, who clinched the league title some weeks ago, are made of stern stuff and as they have often done in the past they came back strongly and eventually booked a final date with Villa following a penalty shoot-out.
One would have to feel a great deal of pity for St Saviour’s because in many ways they have been the fairytale story of local football this season but hopefully they will go on and build on what they have achieved this term. Credit to Crystal however as they never know when they are beaten.
St Saviour’s got off to a dream start by scoring after only 13 minutes. Paul Wyse fouled Billy Barron just outside the penalty area. John Keane came forward from his left full-back position to take the free-kick and he curled the ball to the roof of the net from 22 yards from just outside the right edge of the area.
They fell away somewhat after that goal and Crystal had chances to level. Martin Tynan headed off the crossbar on 16 minutes. Joe Watson ran 60 yards with the ball on 22 minutes, got past three defenders and then went around goalkeeper Graham Cleary but he then dragged his shot across the goal when it looked easier to score.
Martin Tynan then had a shot taken off the line by Trevor O’Regan and Saints’ goalkeeper Graham Cleary then turned away a shot from Joe Watson on 40 minutes.
The game looked all over from a Waterford Crystal point of view when St Saviour’s went two up on 58 minutes. James Kennedy passed the ball to Stephen Dalton out on the right and the in-form Dalton found the net with a low angled strike.
Crystal were thrown a lifeline on 75 minutes when Diarmuid Delahunty, who had replaced the injured Jason Foran at half time, flicked on a throw-in from Mitchel Casey into the path of Jimmy Barden, another substitute, and he found the St Saviour’s net with his head.
Joe Watson played the ball into the Saints penalty area on 79 minutes and defender Trevor O’Regan was forced to take down Delahunty. Niall Butler came forward to take the penalty and he sent Graham Cleary the wrong way.
No extra-time is played in this competition until the final so the game had to be decided on penalties. Crystal scored all five with Niall Butler, Martin Tynan, Keith Sheridan, Joe Watson and Gavin Roche (in that order) successful.
Stephen Dalton, Joe Twomey, James Kennedy and Billy Barron all managed to get the ball past Derek Hearne but the unfortunate Trevor O’Regan, who had conceded the penalty in normal time, sent Hearne the wrong way with his spot kick (Saints’ 5th) but unfortunately for him the ball came back off the butt of the upright.
Waterford Crystal: Derek Hearne, Jason Foran, Niall Butler, David McEvoy, Paul Wyse, Gavin Roche, Martin Tynan, Keith Sheridan, Jason Halloran, Joe Watson, Mitchel Casey. Subs: Diarmuid Delehunty for Foran (half-time), Jimmy Barden for Halloran (69 mins).
St Saviour’s: Graham Cleary, Phil Penkert, John Keane, Kenny McLawrence, Trevor O’Regan, John Paul Jacob, Jamie Swift, Brian O’Donoghue, Billy Barron, Stephen Dalton, Joe Twomey. Sub: James Kennedy for Keane (56 mins).
Referee: Jimmy McGrath.