Penalty Shootout Decides Matters
Salthill Devon 2 St. Joseph’s Boys 2
Salthill Devon win 4-3 on penalties.
by Kenny Gavin
Salthill Devon Under 16s advanced to the last 16 of the SFAI Barry Cup in a 4-3 dramatic penalty shootout victory over St Joseph’s Boys of the DDSL. The game and result should have been clinched earlier for the home side as twice they led through goals from Finian O’Laoi & Robert Finnerty only to be pegged back in injury time by conceding a penalty to draw the game and bring it to Extra time and eventual penalties.
Salthill Devon came into this last 32 SFAI game missing their captain, Davy Carter, who has been ruled out for eight weeks following his ankle break in last weekend’s 2-2 draw with city rivals, Renmore. This meant a shuffling of the pack with Finian O’Laoi returning to his spiritual home of centre-half. He partnered Irish International Evan Murphy and on either side of them, handball extraordinaire, Des Connelly and Robert Finnerty on the left back slot. The burgeoning talent of Caimin Rooney marshalled centre-midfield alongside the energetic Adam Fitzgerald and just advanced from them is Salthill Devon’s most creative player in Kevin Cahalan, Ciaran Nugent was wide right and Ross Murphy who claimed two assists was wide left with Ben Cahill up top, all in front of the vastly improving James Grealis in goal.
The game started at a frenetic pace and it was evident that the visitors hoped to play the game at DDSL tempo to check out if their western neighbours could cope. It almost worked as Devon centre half, O’Laoi was forced to head the ball over his own bar as Joeys threatened early on. A slight breeze was favouring the home team in the opening period and after ten minutes of intense play, the Salthill Devon midfield of Rooney, Fitzgerald and Cahalan began to take control with most of the attack being focussed down the right flank with Ciaran Nugent at right wing. Des Connelly’s throw- ins were causing the visitors some trouble as the half wore on.
The second half produced better football from both sides and it was Salthill Devon who broke the deadlock. A clinically executed set piece from Ross Murphy allowed Finian O’Laoi to meet the ball and head to the net to make it 1-0. As with all footballing cliches, you are at your most vulnerable when you score and this turned out to be true in this case as a defensive lapse allowed Joeys to equalise within two minutes of the Devon goal. 1-1.
Again, Devon upped the tempo and really looked threatening, Ross Murphy worked tirelessly down the left & Nugent down the right, both assisted ably by their full backs, Connelly & Finnerty and it was the latter who restored the Devon lead. Take two. Another excellent delivery from Murphy and if you allow the author some praise, it wouldn’t be like him, he did tell young Finnerty that he fancied him to score a goal and it was to be, Finnerty rose highest and most determined and finished brillantly to the net to make it 2-1. A look at the watch, not long left. Devon warmed up replacement striker, Mark Wynne but into the dying seconds, again given opportunities to claim the ball and clear it, a lunge was taken full advantage of and a penalty awarded to the visitors. There could be no claims of any home-town decisions but the referee must be commended for controlling the game from start to finish and it was obvious to see why he has been upped to LOI refereeing levels. The game finished 2-2.
Mark Wynne replaced Ross Murphy which saw a few positional changes for Salthill Devon. David Patton replaced the industrious Ciaran Nugent and he worked very hard for his period involved. The one moment at the end of extra time saw home keeper, James Grealis make a world-class save and he managed to tip a free kick onto the bar and over to keep the scoreline level. Penalties next.
Salthill Devon have such confidence in their keeper, the request was for their five penalty-takers to stand up and offer their best efforts. It was terrific from a managerial perspecitive to see six hands. Joeys went first and Grealis saved for Devon with O’Laoi scoring his chance. Again Grealis saved and Murphy scored. Joeys then scored, Devon scored through Finnerty, Joeys scored, Devon missed but still had a second chance to wrap it up and Ben Cahill finished coolly to win the game 4-3.
There was great club support at the game which was important as Joeys brought a large travelling contingent to support. Big Thanks must also go to the parents for providing food and beverages for our visitors after the game.
This Devon team are now into the last 16 in Ireland, will play Westport in a Connaught Cup Final on the May Bank Holiday weekend and are in the Galway Cup semi final. Exciting times ahead.
Devon Squad: James Grealis, Dessie Connelly, Evan Murphy, Finian O’Laoi, Robert Finnerty, Caimin Rooney, Ciaran Nugent, Adam Fitzgerald, Ben Cahill, Kevin Cahalan, Ross Murphy, David Patton, Shane Kelly, Mark Wynne, Paddy Donohoe, Jack Brown, Bryan Ndego, James Pope. Inj. Davy Carter. Manager Kenny Gavin.
Referee: Mr. Mark Lynch.