Fifty years on from their first ever FAI Junior Cup success in 1962, Swilly Rovers are back on the national cup trail, this time with their U-16 team.
Swilly Rovers 2
Arklow Town 1
On Sunday, the Ramelton boys produced a hard-working and gutsy display to get the better of a talented Arklow Town side to book their place in the quarter finals of the FAI National Cup.
They will meet Tubbercurry of Co. Sligo on Sunday week at Swilly Park and on the evidence of this victory, they can have every confidence of keeping this brilliant cup run on track.
The star of the show at the weekend was striker Darragh Black who scored the Swilly opener and was a constant threat in attack. Swilly’s second which was scored early in the second half by Dylan Hegarty, put the home side 2-0 in front and on their way to victory. A goal from Arklow’s Joseph Ledwith four minutes from the end ensured a nervy finish for Swilly but they’d done just enough to win through.
It was a proud victory for Jim McCahill’s young team who have been enjoying a great season at local level. The win was all the more impressive given that underage international Jordan Toland missed out again on Sunday because of a long-term injury. But with players like Black, Padraig Ferry, Ronan Curtis and Dominic Hull in the side, Swilly have plenty of talent at their disposal and they all impressed in this victory.
Swilly were in front after only ten minutes when Black pounced on a poor back pass to lob the ball over the advancing keeper and roll it into the empty net. The same player was denied a second soon after when he hit the underside of the crossbar from a narrow angle.
The visitors were certainly not outplayed in the first half but while they enjoyed plenty of possession, Swilly keeper, Caolan Bolton had relatively little to do in that half.
Brandon Toye shot wide from a good position as Swilly sought a second after the break. Their pressure eventually paid off when a Curtis corner was only half cleared and Hegarty hammered the loose ball home.
Hegarty had a fine game at centre midfield and he drew a great save from the visiting keeper with a well placed header from another Curtis corner.
The home side were now well on top and Black was only inches away from a third after a brilliant piece of individual skill on the edge of the area.
But when Arklow’s Ledwith headed in at the back post with only four minutes left, Swilly found themselves defending in numbers until the welcome sound of referee, Donal McCafferty’s full time whistle.
Swilly Rovers: Caolan Bolton, Nathan McElwaine (Duncan Patterson 61), Dominic Hull, Kyle Burke, Dylan Quinn, James McCahill (Gavin Grier 58), Brandon Toye (Conor McLaughlin 67), Dylan Hegarty, Ronan Curtis, Darragh Black, Padraig Ferry. Subs not used: Odhran Coll, Adam Serrinta, Shay Durning, Shane McGettigan.
Arklow Town: A. Jackson, C. O’Reilly, N. O’Reilly, N. Fagan, D. Sullivan, K. Jordan (A. Healy 60), J. Watson, P. Sheridan, J. Ledwith, K. Hilliard, D. Dempsey (D. Furlong 46).
Referee: Donal McCafferty.
Man of the match
There was plenty of talent on show and Arklow’s Jack Watson caught the eye with a quality display at central midfield. But Swilly’s Darragh Black gets the man of the match award, not only for his goal, but his overall contribution in the win. Confident on the ball, Darragh has a wonderful first touch and on another day, he could have had a hat-trick.
Swilly’s second goal from Dylan Hegarty nine minutes into the second half but the home side 2-0 up and into a commanding position.
Swilly boss Jim McCahill was proud of his players but admitted even he was fearing the worst when Arklow pulled a goal back late on. “I thought we were okay up until then but we were hanging on a bit when they got that goal,” he said.
“There were a few nervy moments and to be honest, we had enough chances to be out of sight at that stage. But we played well and I’m delighted that we managed to hold on.”