It may have been a curtailed programme of games on the Junior Soccer front this weekend but those that did beat the elements produced a tremendous return for Limerick Soccer.
In the FAI Junior Cup, Regional United and Aisling Annacotty, both huge underdogs going into their FAI games with Sheriff YC and Westport respectively, produced stunning performances as both teams qualified for the semi final of the National Competition.
In the Munster Junior Cup, holders Pike Rvs reached the last four with a superb win in Waterford to oust Carrick United while the other big game was an all-Limerick affair where Geraldines beat Ballynanty Rvs after a penalty shoot out to also reach the last four of the provincial tournament.
The FAI draw for the semi final paired Regional and Aisling to guarantee we will have a Limerick side in the final. St Michaels will host Glengad in the other semi final.
FAI Junior Cup
Regional Utd 3 Sheriff YC 2 (aet)
Regional United staged a recovery that even Lazarus would have been proud of when they upset the odds to beat favourites Sheriff YC and reach the semi final of the FAI Junior Cup.
Few gave the Dooradoyle club a chance going into the game and even fewer thought they had a prayer, four minutes from the end, when they trailed the Dubliners by two goals.
However, showing huge courage and bravery the Doordaoyle side’s never-say-die attitude saw them produce one of the great comebacks to win the tie.
In truth the visitors should have had the game wrapped up by then as they squandered a number of chances whereas Regional rarely threatened Lee Murphy’s goal but as cup football has shown you always have a chance and Regional took theirs.
The Regional club showed their commitment to the team by flying Sosuke Kimura back for the game and the Japanese striker showed his worth, winning the last minute penalty to level the tie.
The visitors went within a whisker of taking the lead after five minutes. Regional were guilty of ball watching from a corner kick and a deflection knocked the ball to Joe Flood who somehow blazed over from four yards out.
Ten minutes later Flood took off on a good overlap and played the ball behind the in running Anto Flood with Regional in a tizzy.
Regional’s first foray into Sheriff territory saw Jack Lynch deliver a ball for Kieran O’Connell to head into the path of Evan Cusack but a last gasp challenge by Paul Murphy saved the day for the visitors and from the resultant corner Lee Murphy took the ball off the head of Kieran O’Connell.
Sheriff upped the tempo before the break and the home side needed a goal line clearance by Tommy Frawley and the goal frame to keep out a couple of Leon Hayes efforts.
Just before the break the pressure told when Gavin McDermott’s incisive pass split the defence and allowed Anto Flood in to place the ball beyond Rob Shier to break the deadlock.
Regional started brightly after the break and Pat McDonagh forced a double save from Murphy.
Anto Flood was guilty of firing over an empty net and another Hayes effort from a free kick rattled the crossbar before Flood blazed the rebound over.
With the game running away from them Regional went three at the back and paid the price when with six minutes to play Sheriff broke away and Sean Murphy set up Josh McMahon to double the lead.
Listening to the Sheriff dugout, they believed it was game over and it was hard to blame them. However with the crowds steaming out of the ground Pat McDonagh fired home what we all thought was a consolation.
Regional went for the jugular and Willie Griffin nearly found the goal but his header was aved.
With time virtually up Alan Murphy’s hopeful ball into the area struck the back of Joe Flood and Kimura pounced before being taken down by Murphy. The keeper escapade with a yellow card but could do little to prevent Kieran O’Connell coolly slotting in the equaliser to send the game to extra time.
The Dubs were in shock and it got even worse for them when Willie Griffin was pushed over in the box to present O’Connell with another spot kick which he duly tucked away.
The comeback was complete and when Sheriff were reduced to ten, you knew it was Regional’s day.
Regional Utd: Rob Shier; Tom Frawley; Alan Murphy; Jack Lynch; Clyde O'Connell; Pat McDonagh; Kieran O'Connell; Ross Fitzgerald; Evan Cusack; Sosuke Kimura; Stephen Keeley. Subs: Willie Griffin
Sheriff YC; Lee Murphy, Joe Flood, Patrick Oglesby, Paul Murphy, Gavin McDermott, John Lester, Dylan Grimes, Stephen Murphy, Anto Flood, Darren Dunne, Leon Hayes
Westport 1 Aisling Annacotty 2 (aet)
Not to be outdone, Aisling Annacotty also shocked the soccer world beating a highly fancied Westport XI in their own backyard.
Aisling, boasting one of the youngest sides ever to get to the last four in the competition, were superb throughout and fully deserved their place in the semi finals.
There were heroes all over the park for the Limerick side but Nathan O’Callaghan was a colossus in defence while ahead of him Ben Banaghan picked the right day to turn in his best performance in an Aisling shirt.
Aisling were out of the traps light lightning and within two minutes had won a penalty when Aaron Murphy was bundled over in the box. Jason Lipper uncharacteristically blasted the spot kick wide.
Aisling’s response was immediate and within two minutes they had taken the lead. Colm O’Reilly’s lofted free kick was met bravely by Steve Daly who headed to the net while taking a hefty challenge for his troubles.
Aisling could have doubled their lead within five minutes but Lipper was denied by a fine save from home keeper Gary Cunningham.
Banaghan went close for Aisling while at the other end James O’Donnell’s inswinging free kick caused havoc in the Aisling area before being hacked off the line.
Westport came back into the tie and were back on level terms just before the break. Failure to deal with a bouncing ball in the area cost Aisling as Mike O’Brien (who has been training with Aisling all season) sneaked in at the back post to head home.
The home side continued to enjoy superiority after the break but were creating few clear cut chances although Stephen Walsh was called upon to make a superb save to deny O’Donnell.
Aisling had a chance to snatch in normal time when Banaghan chipped the ball over the defence to James Cleary but he fired inches wide of goal.
Extra time was called for and Aisling again started best and got what proved the winner within three minutes. Kennedy Ndip rode two challenges before firing a superb low cross into the area and Aaron Murphy arrived on cue at the back post to finish.
Westport did throw everything at Aisling but the Limerick side held on for a famous win.
Aisling Annacotty: Stephen Walsh; Kennedy N'dip; Fionn Hurley; Steven Daly; Nathan O'Callaghan; Dylan Sheehan; Brian Butler; Ben Banaghan; Colm O'Reilly; Aaron Murphy; Jason Lipper. Subs: James Cleary; Rory O'Dwyer
Carrick Utd 1 Pike Rovers 2
Holder of the Munster Junior Cup, Pike Rovers, showed they have no intention of letting go of their crown when they defeated a fancied Carrick United in Waterford on Sunday afternoon.
It took Pike just five minutes to state their case as Paddy O’Malley forced a save from the home keeper and Jonathan Hannafin fired wide from the rebound.
However the home side showed they were no mugs and Gary Neville was called upon to make a superb double save minutes later.
Shane Walsh had n effort cleared off the line and Eoin Hanrahan was just wide with a fine effort before the deadlock was broken.
Hannafin was taken down and Conor Kavanagh expertly slotted home the spot kick with 30 minutes played.
The wind was making a mockery of the game but the home side were back on level terms after 33 minutes.
O’Malley and Jonathan Grant had further chances before the break.
Pike continued on the front foot after the break and O’Malley struck the crossbar with a volley before Steve McGann was also thwarted by a fine save.
Pike were well on top but finding the winning score hard to come by. They had what looked a blatant penalty turned down before they got their reward. A free kick on the edge of the area with ten minutes to play saw Paddy O’Malley hit a super strike to the net.
Pike Rovers: Gary Neville; Wayne O'Donovan; Paddy O'Malley; Ian Fletcher; Conor Kavanagh; Jonathan Hannafin; Colin Daly; Shane Walsh; Eoin Hanrahan; Steve McGann; Jonathan Grant.
Subs not used:Pat Mullins; Jason Mullins
Geraldines 1 Ballynanty Rovers 1 (Geraldines won 5-4 on pens aet)
The all local Munster Junior Cup tie between Geraldines and Balla drew the crowds to Garryowen where they witnessed a typical nervous cup tie that needed spot kicks to decide the tie.
The opening quarter was a dour affair with neither side willing to take a chance. The first effort of note on 24 minutes produced the opening goal. Eddie Byrnes ball across the ‘Dines Goal was only partially cleared and Ronan Ryan rifled a low shot to the back of the home net.
Balla went close to doubling their lead shortly after but Evan Moloney saved well to deny Dermot Fitzgerald.
Right on the stroke of half time man of the match Bobby Tier combined with Karl Turner but the latter somehow missed from close range to end the half.
On the resumption Geraldines took control of the game in search for an equaliser. They looked to have found it when Shane Byrne was fouled in the box but the striker dusted himself down to take the spot kick but was denied by a fine save from Stephen McNamara.
Two minutes later Tier forced another good save from the Balla net minder but on 74 minutes the home side got their reward. A trip on Turner resulted in another spot kick and this time Tier took on the responsibility and converted to level the tie.
It as Balla’s turn to boss the game and with ten minutes to go Dara Hughes was denied by a good save from Evan Moloney.
The last action of the 90 minutes saw Arron Nunan deliver a ball across the face of goal but the inrunning Barry Harnett somehow contrived to knock it over the crossbar to the relief of the home fans.
Extra time failed to produce the goods and in the resultant shootout Geraldines scored all five and allied with an Evan Moloney save, Dines go into the last four.
Geraldines: Evan Moloney; Clifton Carey; Paul Fitzgerald; Bobby Tier; Thomas O'Grady; Donie Curtin; Dean McNamara; Christy O'Neill; Shane Byrne; Shane Cox; Karl Turner.
Subs not used:Cian Byrnes; George Daffy; Eddie Lee; Ross Mitchell; Morgan Clancy
Ballynanty Rovers: Stephen McNamara; Ger Higgins; Sean Madigan; Dara Hughes; Ken Meehan; Michael Guerin; Eddie Byrnes; Ronan Ryan; Dermot Fitzgerald; Kevin Nolan; David Donnan.
Sub: Arron Nunan; Barry Harnett; TJ O'Dwyer; Jamie Daly; Ryan Earls
Charleville 3 Kilmallock 7
Kilmallock made sure of their safety in the Premier League relegation fight when they defeated Charleville 7-3 at the Co Cork venue on Saturday evening.
Needing a win to keep alive any realistic hopes of avoiding the drop, Charleville started well and went two goals ahead.
Mark Kavanagh struck a penalty and a free kick and things were looking up. However the early goals just succeeded in giving Kilmallock the kick in the pants they needed and by half time they had overturned the deficit to a 4-2 lead.
The visitors piled on the agony after the breaking adding another three goals.
Tommy Heffernan scored three with Killian Hayes and Eoin Burchill claiming two apiece. Shane Dillon scored the third for Charleville.
As it stands now Carew Park will play Division 1A next season. Charleville cannot afford to lose any of their remaining three games v Balla, Carew Park and Geraldines, while hoping Prospect and Nenagh lose all of theirs, so things look very bleak for the Cork side.
Charleville; David Parajnak Kieran O’Donoghue, Ross Foley, Mark Kavanagh, Ciaran Carey, Joe Kavanagh, Gary Ward, John O’Driscoll, Cian McNamara, Jorge Gustavo, Shane Dillon
Kilmallock; Bryan Murphy, Kieran Stubbins, Jake Mulcahy, Davie Todd, Benni Burke, Killian Hayes, Paul Doona, Jason Heffernan, Barry Sheedy, Eoin Burchill, Tommy Heffernan, Subs, Anthony Barrett, Anthony Punch, Evan Hudner, Paudie Sheedy
In Division 1A Athlunkard Villa move joint third following a 3-0 win at Aisling on Saturday. The Leagus top scorer Christian Kerley, with a brace, brought his tally for the season to 21 while Stephen Carmody also netted for the winners.
The result leaves Villa five points away from a promotion spot but with the top two still to play each other there is plenty still to play for.
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