Raphoe progressed to the semi-finals of the Irish Hockey Trophy following an afternoon of high drama against South Antrim on Saturday.
South Antrim 2
(Raphoe won 5-4 on penalties)
With seconds left and the visitors leading 2-1, Raphoe manager Richard Eaton gave a sigh of disappointment as it looked like his team were about to fall just short.
But with one last throw of the dice, William Kilpatrick managed to wriggle a centre in from a crowded corner down the right and Stephen Cleverly proved to be the right man in the right place.
He readjusted his feet and steered the ball home; flicking past Mark Hutcheson to make the score 2-2.
The final whistle sounded three seconds after the restart and Raphoe had pulled it from the fire to establish ‘silver goal’ extra-time.
In the additional two five-minute periods there was no addition to the score so the contest would be settled on penalty flicks.
The teams had history. On the Saturday before Christmas, Raphoe overcame the Lisburn-based side 10-9 on penalties in the semi-final of the Linden Cup.
It was, though, a case by living by the sword and dying by the sword for the team for Raphoe as they then lost the final to Portadown on penalties following a 2-2 draw on New Year’s Day at Belfast Harlequins.
South Antrim were first to go on Saturday and on four occasions got into the lead.
Lee Marshall. Paddy Cochrane, Neil Wilson and Adam Glass shot them in front by the minimum although Raphoe netminder Johnny Rankin was within a whisker of saving on a couple of occasions.
On each occasion, the hosts kept their nerve with a series of equalisers from Cleverly, Matthew Lecky, Keith Meehan and Ben Wallace - the 15-year-old who was unfortunate enough to miss in the Linden Cup final.
He showed great courage in the heat of battle.
At 4-4, Rankin managed to save from Johnny Patterson and Alan Meehan kept his composure to score Raphoe’s fifth and final penalty.
Raphoe will be Ulster’s only representatives in this season’s competition now as North Down, Portrush and, of course, South Antrim all fell on Saturday.
Manager Eaton and coach Rodney Bates will now be hoping for home advantage with Clontarf, Fingal and Bandon the other teams in the last four.
In 2012, Raphoe made the final of the Irish Hockey Trophy, only to go down 3-1 against University College Cork at Belfield.
Going into Saturday’s quarter-final, Raphoe were safe in the knowledge they are the only side in the Ulster Hockey Mens League Senior One to have taken anything from South Antrim.
That was a fortnight ago in the league when the team from the Royal & Prior produced a come from behind 2-1 win away from home.
On Saturday it was South Antrim who had most of the ball in the early stages and their initial endeavours were rewarded when, on 11 minutes, they took the lead.
Glass peeled off around the outside of Ward Phillips and when found in space, steered a fine effort into Rankin’s top corner.
The concession stirred Raphoe into life and within a minute, had their first meaningful effort on goal when Kit Regan warmed the padded gloves of Hutcheson.
However, on 17 minutes Raphoe were level when Lecky drove underneath the visiting goalkeeper following a short-corner routine that saw Kilpatrick deliver to Alan Meehan.
A similar move, right on the stoke of half-time, failed to edge Raphoe in front as this time Lecky’s effort was stopped by Hutcheson.
While chances came and went at both ends it was South Antrim who were most glad to be on parity as Chris Redpath made an exceptional block on the line from Lecky to keep Raphoe at bay.
At the other end, it seemed as though Raphoe’s Alan Meehan had made a similarly fine block; in his case from Lee Marshall.
However, the ball only kept out of the Raphoe net courtesy of the foot and James Wray, the nearest umpire, awarded a penalty flick.
It was dispatched by Cochrane with just nine minutes left and Raphoe looked as though time as running out. There was, though, life in their challenge.
Raphoe: Johnny Rankin, Simon Goudie, Alexander Tinney, Alan Meehan, Ian McGonigle, William Kilpatrick, Keith Meehan, Ben Wallace, Johnny Long, Kit Regan, Paul Stewart, Stephen Cleverley, Rodney Lindsay. Coach: Rodney Bates. Manager: Richard Eaton.
South Antrim: Mark Hutcheson, Johnny Patterson, Lee Marshall, Chris Redpath, Mark Gray, Ward Phillips, Adam Marshall, Adam Glass, Paul Maguire, Simon Watt, Nathaln Gamble, Neil Wilson, Paddy Cochrane.
Coach: Drew Campbell, Manager: Ross Johnston.
Umpires: Cecil Telford and James Wray