FAI Junior Cup Round 1
John Moran, Eoghan O’Brien
*Samphires win 7-6 on penalties*
We made the long trip to Shannon last Sunday morning as we began our journey in the FAI Junior Cup. Our hosts are sitting on top of the Premier Division in Clare, with seven wins from seven, so we knew that a tough game awaited but were confident that we could grab a result if we performed to our best. We started the game very brightly and bossed possession in the opening exchanges with our midfield three of Peter, Dano and Luke seeing plenty of the ball. Our opponents were encouraged to play more direct passes thanks to some clever pressing from Ivan, Ryan and Oisin up front. As always our back four encouraged a patient build up as Darren, Rob, Klaudio and John linked well with our midfield and wingers. Neither side created any clear cut chances, resorting to long range efforts with Ivan striking the crossbar after letting fly from 30 yards. Against the run of play Shannon took the lead just before the half, giving us a difficult task for the second period.
We changed tactics in the second half, resorting to a 4-4-2 in the hope that we could put more pressure on our opponents defence. The change saw us struggle to keep hold of possession as well as we had in the first half but we did look more dangerous when we attacked. Shannon seemed to grow into the game more in the second half and maybe our lack of match practice started to show as we began to tire. Despite this, we never gave up and the introduction of Bill Mullins and Bobby O’Regan gave us more impetus in attack. The equaliser came midway through the half when John Moran finished low to the net after the ball broke to him in the box. Shortly after this John cleared a ball off the line as it was destined to hit the back of the net. Unfortunately we lost Peter McCarthy to injury late in the game and he was replaced by Ruairi Kelly. Both teams pushed for a winner but it didn’t arrive in normal time. Extra time beckoned.
Our hosts dominated much of extra time as our energy levels were put to the test. They took the lead again when they finished well from outside the box. We introduced Thomas Lenihan to give us a bit more energy and he was busy throughout extra time. To our credit we never gave up and finished very strongly in the second half as we created some chances and forced a couple of corners. It was from one of these corners that we found an unbelievable equaliser from an unlikely source. Eoghan left his goals to join the group in the box as Bill lined up for the corner. Bill’s delivery was good and Eoghan arrived to power a header to the net. A minute remained on the clock and we played it out to bring the game to penalties.
Both teams scored their first 6 penalties with Dano, Klaudio, Bill, Bobby, Eoghan and John scoring for us. Eoghan save the seventh penalty brilliantly and Ryan Dolan stepped up to send us through to the second round. You can see the penalty shootout on our Facebook page.
We must saw a big thanks to Shannon Town who were excellent hosts on the day and we wish them all the best in their season. Also, thanks to the referee who was superb throughout the game. Another trip to Shannon awaits us in the next round as we face Shannon Olympic. Lets hope this is the start of something special…….