There was heartbreak for the lads of Swilly Rovers in Fanad yesterday afternoon when they went down 1-0 to Galway’s Mervure United in the dying minutes of the game.
Swilly Rovers 0
Mervue United 1
Just when it looked as if a battling Swilly Rovers Under 17 team were destined to bring the game into extra time a swift Mervue attack on the 90th minute saw them hit the back of the net with little time left on the clock for Swilly to mount any real comeback.
In the first half the home side settled quickly and enjoyed plenty of possession. Ronan Curtis looked lively and they forced a number of corners and free kicks around the opposition box.
Swilly’s Padraic Ferry was playing well in defence and stopped a dangerous Mervue attack on ten minutes with well-timed tackle on Padraig Cunningham.
Caolan Bolton stood strong in the Swilly goal and handled a long range free from Ryan Manning. Antaine O’Laoi missed a good opportunity for the visitors in the 32 minute. A minute later Bolton was forced to leave his line to claim a dangerous O’Laoi cross but handled it calmly.
Just before half-time Swilly was lucky not to have conceded a penalty. It was difficult to make out if the ball hit defender Padraic Ferry’s chest or hand. It was a close call with Swilly getting the benefit of the doubt and the game sat scoreless at half time.
Mervue came out with all guns blazing at the restart and for the first time in the game Swilly looked to have lost a bit of shape in their play. The Galway men began to attack in waves but the home defence stood strong.
Connolly, O’Loai, Cunningham and Paul Healy all had shots on Botlon’s goal but they failed to make them count.
Mervue sub, John Migel Soher’s first touch nearly ended in a spectacular start when he latched onto a long floated pass from Connolly. He cleanly met it with a volley but Bolton was sharp and at full stretch to hold his powerful shot.
It was late into the half before Swilly fought their way back into the tie with Enda McCormick coming close. Ronan Curtis could only reach a headed opportunity with the slightest of touches in what looked to be a good position.
Then the cruel twist came when in one of the last attacks of the game Mervue’s Gary Bailey had a long throw into the Swilly box. A headed flick on by Connolly brought it deeper into the danger zone where Conor Melody found himself in space to fire home the winner with a powerful low shot.
From the kick out Mervue consolidated their defence and held up play until referee Donal McCafferty blew for full time leaving the visitors the victors in a close contest.
Swilly Rovers: Caolan Bolton, Dominick Hull, Conor McGonagle, Kyle Burke, Padraic Ferry, Nathan McElwaine, Adam Serrinha (Shay Durning), James McCathal, Gavan Grier (Cormac Toland), Enda McCormick, Ronan Curtis
Mervue United: Peter Healy, Daniel Barry, Gary Bailey, Paul Healy, Robert Carroll, Moise Assagbo, Conor Melody (0-1), Ryan Manning, Padraig Cunningham (John Miguel Soher), Andre Connolly, Antaine O’Laoi.
A tough lesson but brave performance – McCathal
Swilly Rovers manager, Jim McCahill, said while it as a tough pill to swallow going down in the last minute of the game, overall he was very proud of his young team.
“It was a great performance. It’s hard to believe when you have five players going to Finn Harps and then these young lads coming through. Half of our side today were 14 and 15. I’m very proud of them and I couldn’t have asked for more of them,” he stated.
He acknowledged the class of the Mervure side who arrived in Donegal “on a bus probably worth more than our club” but the experience will stand to his players into the future.
“It’s good for them surely. We should have brought it to extra-time really. The goal came out of nowhere when we were still in it. But some of these lads will have another three years,” he added.