Carrick United 1; Athenry 1
(AET; Carrick won 3-0 on pens)
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Prior to this game the Carrick United manager Liam Wells admitted that his side had not been tested to date in their defence of the FAI Junior Cup this season. That fact was well and truly buried in Tom Drohan Park on Sunday afternoon last and Liam, and indeed the entire Carrick camp, had goalkeeper Adrian Walsh to thank for their victory.
The champions are through to the last 16 because their goalkeeper saved four penalties during the course of the contest. He saved one in extra-time and then he really turned on the style in the shoot-out by saving three more.
It was amazing stuff by the Republic of Ireland Junior net-minder. Carrick were not at their best during the opening half-hour but they eventually got to grips with matters and fully deserved their ticket to the next round, if only for bravery alone.
They had to line out without star left winger Anthony Power and then they lost influential midfield player and skipper Wayne Fitzgerald with a bad knee injury after 20 minutes, but they still somehow managed to win. Champions die hard!
Athenry piled on the pressure when the game got underway and they could have scored after only two minutes when Patrick Quinn headed wide after been picked out by Cathal Fahy.
Fahy then set up Kevin Carr on 16 minutes but Adrian Walsh got down brilliantly to deny him. Two minutes later Carrick did have a chance when Stephen Hahessy out on the left passed to Glen Keane but he flicked his was saved by the visiting goalkeeper Kieran Kilkenny.
Shortly afterwards Adrian Walsh saved a free-kick taken by Cathal Fahy. One minute before the interval, Athenry should have scored through Cathal Fahy who was played in by Kevin Carr but he shot wide from a good position.
The home team looked a lot for comfortable in the second half and they took the lead on 51 minutes. Alan Ryan did well to find Adam McSharry and the recently called-up international brilliantly chipped the ball over goalkeeper Kieran Kilkenny who was charging out of his goal.
The Co Galway outfit equalised 14 minutes later when the unfortunate Alan Redmond placed the ball into his own net under pressure from Cathal Fahy. Both were trying to reach a long ball from the middle of the park.
Walsh saved with his legs from Emmet Byrne on 71 minutes but neither side looked like scoring in the first period of extra time but when Adrian Walsh was forced to foul Cathal Fahy in the first minute of the second period it looked all over for the champions but Walsh superbly saved the spot-kick taken by Patrick Byrne.
Adrian Walsh turned on the style big time in the penalty shoot-out. John Walsh scored first for Carrick. Adrian Walsh then saved from Cathal Fahy. Anthony O’Donnell had his penalty saved by Kieran Kilkenny.
David Carroll was next up for Athenry but he was also frustrated by the brilliant Walsh.
Brian Barry netted for the champs before Walsh saved from Emmet Byrne. All of that meant that Stephen Hahessy had the chance to win the game for Carrick and he gleefully hammered the ball to the net and Carrick celebrated another great win in Europe’s greatest cup competition.
Carrick United: Adrian Walsh, Alan Redmond, Brian Barry, Anthony O’Donnell, John Walsh, Keith Walsh, Stephen Hahessy, Wayne Fitzgerald (Richie Lawrence, 20mins) Alan Ryan, Adam McSharry, Glen Keane (Ian Cleary, 76).
Athenry: Kieran Kilkenny, David Carroll, Ronan Kinneen, Kevin Carr, Patrick Byrne, David Crimmins, Cathal Fahy, Jamie O’Driscoll, Emmet Byrne, Patrick Quinn, Benny Lawless.
Referee: Jimmy McGrath.