CORRIB RANGERS 0
SALTHILL DEVON 0
(After extra time – Salthill won 2-0 on penalties)
SALTHILL Devon captured their first ever Michael Byrne Memorial Cup victory on penalties at Eamonn Deacy Park on Wednesday night as both sides could not be separated after 110 minutes of football.
In an edgy opening half at a sun-kissed Eamonn Deacy Park, Martin Connell’s free kick for Corrib Rangers saw the first meaningful effort on goal arrive after seven minutes when he curled over the bar.
A lot of patient passing took over at midfield with Salthill having decent spells of possession but chances were few and far between, with Gearoid O Leidhinn’s goalward-bound drive blocked by Martin O’Connor at the other end.
Five minutes later, Devon really tested Rangers keeper Conor Sweeney when Brian Conlon found space to volley but Sweeney was well alert to produce a fine save and his defence cleared the danger.
As the half hour mark approached, Devon found space again when O Leidhinn played a neat through ball to Keith Shaughnessy but his low attempt at a cross landed into the side netting.
Ten minutes before the break Brian Connolly’s corner for Brendan O’Connor’s men fell to fellow striker David Goldbey but as he attempted to stab home, his effort was blocked by several lively Devon defenders and the sides went in scoreless at the break.
Quickly after the restart, a dangerous Salthill free-kick taken by Cian McBrien was well held by Sweeney before Brian Conlon’s swerving low drive was again firmly saved by the Corrib Rangers stopper.
On the hour mark, Brendan O’Connor’s charges thought they had hit the front when Goldbey was clattered by James Whelan, but still managed to execute his cross which was lashed in by Paul Smith – but no advantage was given by referee John Reilly whose whistle sounded a split-second before the goal.
Subsewquently, Rangers thought they had taken the lead again when Romanian Dragos Barbu unlocked the Devon defence with a cutting pass into Connell’s path only for keeper Miguel Posse to brilliantly turn it around the post at full stretch.
Tired legs began to show as both camps made changes; with both of Corrib Rangers’ bench introductions combining when Oscar Sibanda squared for Jason Murphy but his effort was always sailing wide.
With two minutes to go, Salthill almost snatched it when Shane May’s cross fortunately fell to substitute Jason Lyons in the box – and as he tried to pull the ball back for Ronan Conlon, he somehow poked wide with the goal at his mercy and extra time was confirmed.
For more, read this week’s Galway City Tribune.