Swilly Rovers pictured before their victory over Naas on Saturday.
As far as drama and excitement go, this national cup tie, played in Rathmullan on Saturday, had it all.
Swilly Rovers . . . 1
Naas . . . 1
(AET, Swilly win 5-3 on pens)
In the end it took penalty kicks to separate two sides who played so well and served up a quality cup clash.
Naas looked to be on their way to victory when they stole the lead with just four minutes of extra time remaining.
However, Swilly Rovers drew level with just a minute of extra time remaining when Matthew McLaughlin’s wonderful delivery was headed to the net by Kyle McMullen.
McMullen also took one of Swilly’s five converted penalties as the Ramelton club advanced 5-3 on penalties - Swilly’s keeper John Matthews saving Naas’ first spot kick.
It means Swilly Rovers are through to the last eight of the competition and next up they will travel to play either Glenmuir United of Dundalk or Mount Merrion of Dublin.
They’ll know they were fortunate to come through Saturday’s game against a Naas side who played the best part of this game with only ten men. They had Lee Baldwin sent off on 26 minutes when he handled a goalbound effort in the box. He was shown a red card but Finnian O’Donnell’s spot-kick drew a brilliant save from visiting keeper Cian Kelly.
Up until that stage, Naas had created the better chances with striker Emmanuel Iria going close at least three times.
Swilly’s best opening had fallen to Sean Doherty but he just couldn’t get enough purpose behind his shot and his effort was saved.
Naas, despite having a man less, continued to look dangerous coming forward in the second half and their lone striker, Josh Delham, caused the home defence no end of problems.
He looked set to break the deadlock in the dying minutes of normal time but Matthews made a brilliant save in the Swilly goal.
With the sides level at the end of 80 minutes, the game moved into extra time. Delham’s perseverance eventually paid when his deflected effort squeezed in at Matthews’ near post.
But credit to Swilly, they dug out one more late attack and McMullen rose majestically to head home from a McLaughlin cross.
Swilly kept their nerve during penalty kicks, converting all five of their spot-kicks to maintain their fabulous cup run.
Swilly Rovers: John Matthews, Matthew McLaughlin, Jack McAuley, Kyle McMullen, Shay Callan McFadden, Frankie Campbell, Michael Murray, Sean Doherty, Finnian O’Donnell, Ronan Boyce, Eoin Logue. Subs: Mark Cannon, Jason McDaid, Dillon Dorrian, Conor Doohan, Tony Gallagher, Oran Brogan, Kyle Burns.
Naas: Cian Kelly, Sean Kerrigan, Eoin Carolan, Alex Beirne, Eoin Archibold, Lee Baldwin, Emmanuel Irisa, Leon Doyled, Adam Kane, Josh Delham, Eoghan Maguire. Subs: Paul Dockery, Eoin Disney, Finn Gillespie, Ronan Kelly, Alex Rogers, Drew Costello.
Referee: Liam McLaughlin.