THE draw was reasonably kind, the opposition no great shakes, but the FAI Junior Cup challenge of Athenry still ended in Tramore on Sunday when they lost an early goal advantage and eventually by 7-6 on penalties.
The contest finished 1-1 after extra time with the Galway League side just having memories of plenty of opportunities, but a failure to take advantage of them caused their ultimate exit from the competition.
Ever since they were beaten in the final back in the ninties, the FAI Junior Cup has always proved to be an obstacle that is beyond the club. For a number of years, difficult local draws meant they never got out of the Galway region, but of all the losses over the years, this was probably one of the most galling. Drawn at home initially, their game with Tramore was abandoned at half time due to an uplayable pitch, with the outcome that they had to travel to Waterford for the refixture at the weekend.
It started off well as Cathal Fahy set up Jamie O’Driscoll to give them a 1-0 advantage on 26 minutes but in a half in which they were the better side, they failed to build on that advantage. However, the home side levelled matters nine minutes after the restart when Lee Kavanagh was on target. The visitors continued to threaten as Ward was denied by the woodwork, while Ralaigh sent a header off target.
The penalty shootout continued to frustrate Athenry and despite Gary Forde, Declan Cullen, Stephen Cunningham, Gary O’Connell, Nathan Ward and Stephen Ralaigh all finding the net, it was Dan Morrisey who tucked away the winner for the home side as they prevailed by 7-6.
Following the defeats of Loughrea and Athenry, just Mervue United remain in the competition and they will Kildare side Suncroft FC at home in mid January.
For more, read this week’s Galway City Tribune.
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