Tramore 2; Nenagh Celtic 3 (AET)
There were high hopes that Tramore could make it through to the Quarter Final stage of the FAI Under 17 Cup when they received a home draw against Nenagh Celtic because the winners of this contest had received the news that they would receive a bye into the last eight of the competition.
When the game got underway in Graun Park on Sunday evening last it looked as if it would be Tramore who would book a place in the finals stages of the competition because they began like a house on fire and they had the Co Tipperary visitors on the back foot from the opening whistle and when they took the lead, one could only see one result, a Tramore victory.
However things did not work out like that and following the 90 minutes of normal time and an extra 20 minutes it was Nenagh Celtic who travelled back home in a happy state of mind. The Tramore mentors and players will still be kicking themselves because the visiting side are far from world beaters and the seaside club will look at this as a lost opportunity to advance in a National competition.
Tramore went out attacking from the opening whistle and they had the ball in the net after only 3 minutes when Gavin Faulkner hammered the ball to the net from 20 yards following a corner kick but a linesman had his flag raised for offside.
Three minutes later Zach Shanahan crossed from the right. Defender Mark Flannery cleared the ball and when it fell to Paul Farrelly he thundered a rocket off the Nenagh crossbar with goalkeeper David Cleary well beaten.
Tramore did break the deadlock however on 10 minutes. A super cross by right full back Sam Shanahan fell to the back post and central defender Stephen O’Brien had the simple task to touch home from close range.
Nenagh Celtic scored with their first real attack of the game after 18 minutes. Cliff Moloney was the player who found the net when he drilled the ball into the corner following a great run down the left flank by Craig Connolly. Moloney’s shot from 16 yards gave the Tramore goalkeeper Kevin Burns no chance.
Almost beyond belief Cliff Moloney scored again and this was only Nenagh’s second attack. Shane O’Connell sent forward a hopeful ball from the middle of the park. Unfortunately the Tramore defence opened up like the Red Sea and that gave Moloney the chance to ram the ball past the helpless Kevin Burns. Two minutes after that goal, Stephen O’Brien very nearly scored his second goal of the match when after a meeting a corner kick taken by Zach Shanahan he shot over the crossbar from a decent position.
Extra time heartache
We had to wait until the 15th minute of the second half for the next goalmouth action. Tramore’s Gavin Faulkner displayed good skill in the middle of the park before running forward and shooting from 30 yards but his effort went inches wide of David Cleary’s right upright. Kevin Burns came to the rescue of Tramore shortly afterwards when he got down low to save an effort from Danny Ryan who was put clear by Craig Connolly.
On 72 minutes, Craig Lennon went down the right wing before picking out Paul Farrelly who tucked the ball to the Nenagh net with real class. The Nenagh goalkeeper then saved superbly from Ricky Hutchinson after 78 minutes and four minutes later Hutchinson shot wide from the left side of the penalty area when he should have at least made David Cleary work between the Nenagh posts. It was pretty clear that neither side was going to score during the remainder of the game and it came as no surprise that extra time would be required to try and find a winner.
What proved to be the winning goal arrived one minute from the end of the first period of extra time. David Walsh found Danny Ryan lurking inside the Tramore penalty area and Ryan drilled the ball into the far corner of Kevin Burns net from the right. Tramore could not muster another equaliser and as a result they made a very disappointing exit from the FAI Cup. To make matters worse they had Sam Shanahan sent off right on the blow of the full time whistle along with Craig Connolly of Nenagh Celtic. It was a nasty and indeed ugly finish to what was a very poor game.
Tramore. Kevin Burns, Darren O’Meara, Sam Shanahan, Thomas Moore, Stephen O’Brien, Chris Flynn, Paul Farrelly, Gavin Faulkner, Ricky Hutchinson, Craig Lennon, Zach Shanahan
Sub. Tom Reine for Hutchinson (90 mins)
Nenagh Celtic. David Cleary, Mark Walsh, Adam Mitchell, Mark Flannery, Patricck Flynn, Shane O’Connell, Danny Ryan, Brendan Sheehan, Shane Maher, Cliff Moloney, Criag Connolly.
Subs. David Walsh for O’Connell (70 mins) William Bolger for Maher (95 mins)
Referee. Noel Purcell.