There was penalty heartbreak for Letterkenny Rovers as they made their exit from the FAI Intermediate Cup losing this replay 5-4 in the shoot-out.
St. Francis 1
Letterkenny Rovers 1
(St. Francis won 5-4 on pens)
The game finished 1-1 after extra-time after Seamie ‘Nani’ Friel scored a superb equaliser early in the second half to cancel out Anthony Shortt’s first half penalty for the hosts.
Rovers’ Jonathan Minnock - who had kept his side in the game with an excellent goal line clearance in extra-time - missed their first spot-kick as the Dubliners went on to score five out of five.
Anthony Doherty, S Friel, Steve Okapu and Glenn Gallagher all scored their penalties to keep the shoot-out alive before St. Francis’ goalkeeper Paul Dowling drilled home the decisive kick to send his team into the last sixteen of the competition and also into the first round of the FAI Senior Cup.
It was a gallant effort from the visitors who put in a brave performance but were left to rue their missed opportunity in this tie when they led late in the game at Leckview only to concede an equaliser.
Manager Trevor Scanlon made three changes for the replay with Paddy McNulty replacing the suspended Darren McElwaine - sent off in the first match - while Friel came in for Okapu and Anthony Gorman replaced the unavailable Eloka Asoka.
The home side went ahead midway through the first half only minutes after Karl Delaney struck a post with a free-kick and Shortt blasted over the rebound.
The penalty was awarded after goalkeeper Jason Quinn collided with Shane Murphy and referee Owen Murphy pointed to the spot.
Shortt hammered his penalty low into the corner of the net.
Rovers got back on level terms eight minutes into the second half. Gorman set Friel on his way down the right flank and he evaded the challenges of a number of St. Francis defenders before weaving his way into the box and supplying a smart finish beyond Dowling.
The visitors certainly appeared to have the upper hand in the second half and the best chance fell their way when Oisin Grant broke clear from midfield only to be denied by an excellent save from Dowling in a one on one situation.
It was real end to end stuff and the game was forced into extra-time and St. Francis found themselves on top particularly in the first period when Minnock made that goal-line headed clearance to thwart Craig Gardner and moments later Quinn got down well to save from Dean Brennan.
Rovers substitute Jason Doherty created a good opportunity for himself towards the end of the first period only to blaze over and it was now down to the penalty shoot-out where the Leinster Senior League side prevailed.
St. Francis: Paul Dowling, Karl Connaughton, Karl Kelly, Craig Gardner, Dean Brennan, Aiden Maguire, Karl Delaney, Keith Lyons, Gerard O’Gorman, Anthony Shortt, Shane Murphy. Subs used - Chris Bateman, Jamie Hayden, Martin McGuinness.
Letterkenny Rovers: Jason Quinn, Anthony Doherty, Jamie Doherty, Jonathan Minnock, John Doherty, Anthony Gorman (Steve Okapu 90), Oisin Grant, Glenn Gallagher, Paddy McNulty, Seamie Friel, Kevin McGrath (Jason Doherty on 67).
Referee: Owen Murphy.