GMIT Castlebar Squad before the game
The men’s soccer team reached the quarter-final Of The CFAI Umbro Plate after an excellent fight back against Dun Laoghaire IADT on Wednesday 25 Jan in St Mary’s.
Showing all the signs of the rustiness that the Christmas and January exams layoff traditionally brings, they started in a very uncertain manner. Allowing the opposition midfield all the time it needed to settle, they were quickly on the back foot. Time and again Dun Laoghaire got in behind the back four and would have gone ahead but for brave goalkeeping from Dave Hussey.
A complete lack of communication gifted the goal when it came as Dave Lee allowed a high ball to bounce in the hope it would run through to the keeper. This was never an option and the thankful striker rounded the advancing Hus to slot into an empty net.
This stung the lads into life and if they never quite fired on all cylinders they tightened up and started to take the game to Dun Laoghaire a bit more. Leading the way in this was Noel Marley whose bone crunching challenges set down a marker of the spirit that was about to surface, and Leon Vaughan who channelled his energy into harassing the back four and causing critical errors. Indeed Leon did everything right in winning possession at the edge of the area and working free of the defenders, guilty of not looking up he missed the simple pass to Alan Mchugh which would surely have brought the equaliser, his own shot was a bit too ambitious and missed the target.
The half finished on a positive note and Dun Laoighaire’s early dominance had been eroded with Christy Keaney in particular giving them problems each time he got on the ball.
The lads found a new gear in the second half, and with every attack they grew in confidence, the opposition seemed to be draining as the onslaught progressed. Much credit for this comes form Colin Walsh and Ashley Devenney getting a grip on the centre of the park and setting up swift attacks. A Goal should have come of one such through ball but again Communication was the problem, this time Leon and Christy going for the same ball to ruin the chance for each other. They put this behind them to make amends in classic fashion moments later, Christy who had been tormenting his defender all afternoon, neatly flicked the ball over his head, pushed it past the next man to send a dangerous ball over to the far post, The quality of the finish from Leon, (who met it on the volley, to cannon it to the net), was surpassed only by his celebrations. Ever shy!! – he preened and postured to take the accolades of all & sundry in a show worthy of Sky Sports.
Firmly in the driving seat now the boys smelt blood and went for the Jugular. Nicky Corr replaced Christy and continued the pressure on the defenders, by this stage the home defence had grown so assured they didn’t even resemble the four men who started the game and they dealt with ease with all that was thrown their way. Defensive duties done Swinford’s Connor O’Malley decided to get in on the act up front, taking a ball laid back form Nicky he decided against the early delivery and seemed to have missed the opportunity. Finding himself in heavy traffic he somehow wriggled and weaved to push it through the crowd, then winning the race against defenders and the end-line he clipped an inch perfect cross to the far post for Ballyglass’ Alan McHugh to gratefully nod home to take the lead.
As is inevitable in a cup-tie the visitors shook themselves and tried to save the day. From there on it was "The Alamo" with the defence shipping casualties along the way. First to fall was Dave Lee forced to retire with an ankle injury, the introduction of Noel Walsh made for a seamless transition in defence. Ashley was next to fall, the effort of running the midfield taking its toll, Dave Kenny entered and the fresh legs holding the ball up gave a great reprieve for the beleaguered defence. The effort, tracking and challenges of Noel Marley epitomised the spirit that was emerging in the side, but when the legs could give no more Colin Walsh moved back to centre of defence. His was to be the final say, when it looked as if all the work would be in vain Dun Laoghaire’s striker rounded the keeper and lofted a chip toward the empty net, hearts sank as the inevitability of the outcome sunk in and the goal that would bring extra time beckoned. Colin Walsh wasn’t taking it as a done deal though, and he mustered a last surge of energy to clear the ball from the line and save the day. The roar that greeted this act was echoed moments later as the final whistle blew on a pulsating end to an excellent afternoon’s football.
The lads look back on an excellent performance, knowing that the cobwebs have been shaken off and things should continue to improve. Tommy Ka, (probably the most consistent performer all season), was below par following an illness while Alan Mchugh, suffering from a knock taken in the first ten minutes, could do little outside of the all important goal. Nicky Corr has a lot more to offer when his ankle properly clears up and in general as the lads await word of their Quarter-final opponents the mood is extremely confident.
Next Wednesday Feb 1st the Focus turns to Gaelic Football as the men’s team take on Blanchardstown I.T. in a replay of last years first round match. We were on the losing side that day so, everyone is geared up for revenge. Throw in, in Parke is at 2.30.
Colin Points the way as Connor O'Malley sets up winner