Umbro Plate Semi-Final
Limerick I.T. 3-1 GMIT @ Castlebar
The men’s Soccer teams attempt to bring home national honours came up short when they were beaten in the Umbro Plate semi-final by eventual winners Limerick I.T.
The opening was quite bright and Castlebar if anything had the upper hand in early exchanges, Tommy Ka was unlucky not to finish when he beat the offside to latch onto a Dave Lee Header behind the flat defence, but mid-way through the half the wheels seemed to fall off. All the progress that had been made in the preceding rounds was lost and the basics were not being done properly, Limerick were stronger in the challenge and Castlebar passes were not finding their targets. The only ray of light was that despite playing so poorly they looked like making half–time without conceding, and things could only get better from there.
Unfortunately they didn’t reach the safety of the huddle as they conceded not one but two in the final five minutes of the half. The first was an own goal as a cruel deflection took the ball away from Robert Burge who had the original shot covered. Moments later it was two. This time the finish was clinical but there is no doubt the ball should have been cleared from a corner - at least three people having the opportunity to do so.
Home truths were told and serious questions asked during the interval and it looked the answers would be forthcoming as the Castlebar lads started with great purpose taking control of the middle of the park and asking questions of the Limerick defence for the first time.
The introduction of Leon Vaughan had the effect as with his first contribution he controlled a lovely though ball from Nicky Corr, turned two defenders (and in typically infuriating Leon style – decided to repeat the dose for good measure!), before coolly slotting the ball past the keeper. It looked like the comeback was on and with plenty of time to secure it.
Unfortunately the comeback and the game as a contest was effectively over minutes later as a weak shot going nowhere near the goal took a deflection to wrong foot everyone leaving the Limerick striker with the simplest of tap ins. This blow really took the wind out of the sails and although the effort was valiant the Limerick lads clung on. Dan Breen from Breaffy made an impact on introduction and caused Limerick trouble in the air and the last ten minutes might have been a different affair had Ballyglass’ Alan McHugh’s rasping drive not hit the bar instead of the net.
In the end however there could be no complaints, to win on the big occasion you need everyone pulling in the right direction. The cup run had been full of examples of this, but at the finals tournament too many people had an off day and the collective effort wasn’t enough to merit a place in the final.
But The lads can look back on a great cup campaign with some big days along the way and some superb performances form all involved througout. They enjoyed the fruits of this with the experience of the finals tournament In Cork but will be dissapointed they did not put their best foot forward on the big day.
Robert Burge, Ashley Devenney, Conor O’Malley, Darren Newell, Noel Marley, Alan McHugh, Dave Lee, Colin Walsh, Tommy Ka, Nicky Corr, Tom Nolan subs – Leon Vaughan, Dan Breen
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