FAI Junior Cup
There was amateur dramatics of the highest order in Clondalkin on Friday night as Collinstown claimed FAI Junior Cup victory over Kilbarrack United in injury time.
Daniel Matthews proved leading man in front of a sold out crowd scoring twice in a comeback win- and like the best heroes in any film or stage production the midfielder left the ultimate heroics right to the death.
The player, who is fast becoming Collinstown’s talisman, rolled the ball home with the second last kick of the game as the LSL Major 1 side took a big step along the road to the Aviva.
Kilbarrack will be disappointed with the manner of defeat in a keenly contested and tense battle. It wasn’t quite a Claudio Bravo moment, but a poor clearance from the back presented Matthew’s with the chance to win the game and he duly obliged much to the delight of the majority of those in attendance.
Any AUL Premier A side going into battle with an LSL Major 1 side would be favourites to emerge victorious, but the bookies couldn’t split these sides ahead of the eagerly anticipated clash.
And while the sides looked evenly matched from the off Kilbarrack managed to steal in front as early as minute seven.
After failing to clear both a long ball and corner sufficiently Collinstown allowed the former finalists a chance to return the ball into the box. Stephen Doran produced a right footed pin point delivery from deep on the left flank and an in form and unmarked Rory O’Connor guided a header home.
Some audacious trickery from Redser Brady followed, which symbolised the mood the visitors were in. Confidence was high and the four players they had across the park all showed neat touches and while over the next few minutes they only produced an O’Connor long range effort they did look that little bit more threatening.
Matthew’s seemed the most likely to make something happen for the hosts, but rather than drop in and make it three versus two in the center of the park he looked to get in behind.
It was a tactic the United management were worried about and urged to their front two and wide men to press the back four in a bid to stop the long diagonals and searching balls.
Around the half hour mark that press lead to the AUL side winning a free kick high up the pitch, which Brady whipped just over the bar. Minutes later a deeper set piece was sent in the box and Dean Gibbons pounced on the second ball and hit the bar.
At that stage it looked like Kilbarrack were going to move up the gears, but within 60 seconds Collinstown were level.
Graham Doyle chased a lost cause down the right flank and forced a rushed clearance which fell to the feet of Gareth Brogan, the hard working front man, who was playing down the right flank.
‘Horse’ feed the ball into James Lee, who cushioned a pass out to the left for Conor Mahony to cross. The left back produced a sensational centre and landed the ball right on the head of Matthews who headed home from eight yards on 36 minutes.
That strike gave Collinstown a boost and they finished the half the stronger and Doyle fired wide from range, but Kilbarrack had a great chance right on the stroke of half time as Gibbons bore down on goal, but O’Connor couldn’t get a touch on the former amateur International’s cross come shot.
Kilbarrack pressed much higher after the turn and tried to stop the hosts from playing from the back and it almost played dividend early on.
Ian McNeil under pressure left a back pass short and John Mills had to come out smartly to prevent Brady from finding the back of the net.
O’Connor then forced another save from Mills, before Collinstown began to find a rhythm again.
The hosts began to enjoy spells of possession, but when their next chance came it arrived via a long pass.
McNeill again tried to find Matthews in behind the midfielder’s touch looked to take him wide, but as he raced to collect his heavy touch he was felled in the box.
The referee blew his whistle 63 minutes in, pointed to the spot and captain Dean Carpenter placed the ball on the spot. The defender fired his effort against the post with such vigour he couldn’t control the rebound and the visitors were able to clear.
The game opened up at that stage and there was an end to end feel. Eamon Mullingan began to have an impact down the left for Kilbarrack, while a brilliant left win raid from Ger Shortt ended with a tame shot for Collinstown.
Gibbons then hit the side netting for Kev Carroll’s men before Mullingan fired wide. The chances although not clear cut were more plentiful as tension grew. Shortt had a back post volley cleared off the line after another McNeill pass while Fowler saw his header come corner time blocked by the Collinstown player manning the post.
The remaining few minutes also played host to lively challenges as both teams tried to battle their way into the next round.
However, just when it looked like the tie wouldn’t be settled in 90 minutes Matthews scored a winner.
Mickey Griffin tried to release fellow sub Dylan McKeever in behind forcing the visiting keeper to try and sweep, he didn’t get enough purchase on his clearance and Matthews pounced and with everyone calling for him to try lob home he rolled from 25 yards into the bottom right hand corner.