Ian Cleary is congratulated by Anthony O'Donnell following what proved to be his first-half winner

Ian Cleary is congratulated by Anthony ODonnell following what proved to be his first-half winner

Carrick United 1; Regional United (Limerick) 0

Carrick United, champions in 2004, are back in another Munster Junior Cup final following this hard-earned victory against a very good Regional United side on Sunday afternoon in the revamped Ozier Park.

The only goal of the game arrived in the 17th minute, courtesy of a delightful headed effort by Ian Cleary. Carrick did ride their luck somewhat during the remainder of the contest but the visitors could not find a way past the Carrick goalkeeper Adrian Walsh and for the second time in five weeks they returned to Limerick after losing in Waterford. On their last visit in March they lost on penalties to Bohemians in the FAI Junior Cup.

The Hoops will now play either Tramore or another Limerick outfit, Fairview Rangers, in the decider in Ozier Park next Sunday.

Golden goal

The Waterford League side almost took the lead after 13 minutes. Alan Ryan played the ball out to Ian Cleary who shot at goal from the left side of the park but the Regional goalkeeper Gary Neville produced a wonderful save, diving to his left to tip the ball around his upright.

Cleary was not to be denied, however, four minutes later. Carrick forced a corner kick out on the left which was taken by Alan Ryan and Cleary nipped in between two defenders to glance a super header past Gary Neville from six yards.

Anthony Power was the next Carrick to test the goalkeeper. He cut in from the left but Neville got down at his near post to smother the ball. Regional came into the game big style after that and they went close with a Tony Fahy header following a corner kick taken by Shane O’Donoghue on 23 minutes.

Five minutes later Adrian Walsh spilled a hard shot from Danny Sullivan but he made amends by diving at the feet of Alan Finucane who was just about to pounce.

Adrian Walsh then produced another fine stop, this time from Danny Sullivan and when the ball rolled back to Alan Fincuane he struck the angle of the woodwork.

More pressure

Carrick dropped back very deep during the opening minutes of the second period and invited Regional on to them and on 61minutes Alan Fincuane dragged a shot across the goal when really he should have made the Carrick goalkeeper work.

Lots of more pressure followed and the Limerick outfit forced four corner kicks midway through the period. One of those saw Wayne Fitzgerald almost slice the ball past Adrian Walsh but somehow the Waterford League side managed to clear the danger.

Carrick could have sealed the game on 77 minutes when Daryl Kavanagh pulled the ball back from the left endline but Barry Murphy was slow in getting forward.

The game ended very badly for Regional United. First Kieran O’Connell was stretchered off with a suspected broken leg right on the blow of full-time and when play resumed Danny Sullivan was sent off for punching a Carrick player. His uppercut would have done credit to Bernard Dunne.

Carrick United: Adrian Walsh, James Walsh, Brian Barry, Anthony O’Donnell, John Walsh, Alan Redmond, Anthony Power, Alan Ryan, Richard Lawrence, Ian Cleary, Adam McSharry. Subs: Barry Murphy for McSharry (50 mins), Wayne Fitzgerald for Lawrence (65 mins), Daryl Kavanagh for Cleary (73 mins).

Regional United: Gary Neville, Michael Ahearne, Michael Reidy, Eoin Mullins, Mark Sheehan, Kieran O’Connell, Shane O’Donoghue, Danny Sullivan, Alan Fincuane, Ray Lynch, Tony Fahy. Subs: Marty Foley for O’Donoghue (69 mins), Darragh Drogg for O’Connell (90 mins).

Referee: Gene Stephens (Cork).