Letterkenny Rovers force replay against Portmarnock

FAI SENIOR CUP 1ST ROUND

Letterkenny Rovers force replay against Portmarnock

Ten-man Letterkenny Rovers deservedly forced a replay after a battling display in Dublin on Sunday

Portmarnock 1

Letterkenny Rovers 1

Rovers had fallen behind to an eighth minute opener and created a number of good chances to draw level before they got a deserved equaliser shortly after the hour.

At that stage, they looked a good bet to go on and win this tie, but were reduced to ten men when Tommy Bonnar was red carded.

Aftert that, it was a case of holding on to what they had. Eamonn McConigley's men played well, even with a man less, and deservedly took the tie to a replay.

Their last appearance in the FAI Senior Cup was back in 2004 when they also met Dublin opposition in the form of Drumcondra. On that occasion, they drew in the capital only to lose the replay 2-0.

Going on yesterday's performance, Rovers will feel confident of avoiding a similar scenario when these sides meet again in a fortnight's time.

On a day when a very strong wind did its best to spoil this game, Rovers probably shaded the first half in terms of possession and had the better chances in an entertaining first half.

Steve Okakpu Emeka had the game's first opportunity after only three minutes when he managed to beat the offside trap but with only keeper, Robbie Burns to beat, he got caught in two minds and his eventual shot was weak.

A couple of minutes later, the Rovers frontman was in on goal again but from further out, his shot whistled over.

Against the run of play, Portmarnock, took the lead eight minutes in. Rovers were guilty of losing possession inside their own half and when the ball was eventually fed out to the left to Christopher Burgess, he was able to come inside and fire past Rory Kelly in the visiting goal.

Kelly then saved from Alan O'Shaughnessy as the home side sought a second.

However, the goal aside, Letterkenny played well in the first half. Mark Forker and Tommy Bonnar were on top in midfield and Paul McVeigh, Darren McElwaine and Okakpu Emeka all looked lively.

They could have been level at the break but a McVeigh corner was glanced wide of the target by Paul Boyle when the big defender might have done better.

Already without the absent Shane Bradley, Letterkenny lost the experienced Jonathan Minnock to injury, he was replaced at the break by Tristan Ferris. But they continued to create chances after the turnaround with Paul McVeigh twice going close.

They eventually got the equaliser their pressure deserved when Mark Forker's corner was headed goalwards by Paul Boyle and Darren McElwaine flicked the ball home from close in.

Rovers' chances however, were dealt a real blow on 67 minutes when they were redeced to ten men when midfielder Bonnar was shown a red card for a two-footed tackle on his man.

But while Portmarnock got themselves into some good situations in the closing stages, Rory Kelly in the visiting goal didn't have an awful lot to do, aside from a good save from Darragh Coates late on.

Portmarnock: Robbie Burn, Aaron Egan, Niall Kenny, Callum Riches (Daniel Butler 58), Gareth Whelan, Alan O'Shaughnessy, Ross Moran, Philip Rusk, Christopher Burgess, Graham Rusk, Darragh Coates.

Letterkenny Rovers: Rory Kelly, Ryan Lonergan, Terence Shields, Jonathan Minnock (Tristan Ferris 46), Paul Boyle, Tommy Bonnar, Kevin McGrath (Christy Conaghan 69), Mark Forker, Darren McElwaine, Steve Okakpu Emeka, Paul McVeigh.

Referee: Kevin Baneham (Dublin).