Extra-time heartache in national cup semi-final for Swilly Rovers U-16

On a day that will live long in the memory for this Swilly Rovers team, their cup run was brought to an end following a dramatic extra-time defeat by St. Joseph’s Boys

On a day that will live long in the memory for this Swilly Rovers team, their cup run was brought to an end following a dramatic extra-time defeat by St. Joseph’s Boys

Swilly Rovers 2

St. Joseph’s Boys, Dublin 4

(after extra-time)

Report: Diarmaid Doherty

Photos: Conor McGonagle

The Ramelton side put up a gallant display against the much fancied Dublin side but after taking the game to extra time, they conceded three goals in that period in what was a disappointing conclusion to a classic cup tie.

St. Joseph’s looked to have won this tie in normal time when after creating a string of good chances they eventually scored the opening goal eight minutes from the end through Aaron Byrne.

But deep into injury time, one last Swilly attack saw Darragh Black deliver a cross from the right and captain, Dylan Hegarty rose majestically at the back post to send a looping header in over the keeper.

The equalising goal sparked wild celebrations among the players and their supporters and it ensured we would have another 20 minutes of extra time.

But the comeback was as good as it got for Swilly. St. Joseph’s fired themselves back in front just before half time in extra time when defender Robin Doyle scored following a corner. Then two goals within a minute in the second period from Fionn Geoghegan and Byrne again put St. Joseph’s 4-1 ahead.

Substitute, Adam Serrinha headed home a second for the home side late on but it was to prove scant consolation for a Swilly side who had come so close to upsetting the odds.

This tie was played in front of another big crowd at Swilly Park and it was Swilly who started best with Padraig Ferry unlucky to see an early goal ruled out for offside.

But once St. Joseph’s began to knock the ball around, they created a number of good openings themselves. Caolan Bolton in the home goal made two great saves in the first half and as St. Joseph’s continued to press after the break, Bolton produced a magnificent reaction stop to deny Matthew Byrne what seemed a certain goal.

Despite Bolton and his defenders’ best efforts, Swilly eventually conceded when on 72 minutes, Aaron Byrne found space in the area and fired home.

With time almost up, Hegarty’s wonderful headed goal three minutes into injury time, sent the game into extra time. But sadly for Swilly, tiredness seemed to get the better of them as St. Joseph’s killed off their challenge in extra time.

Swilly Rovers: Caolan Bolton, Vinny Pyper, Dominic Hull (Nathan McElwaine 74), Dylan Quinn, Kyle Burke, Dylan Hegarty, Brandan Toye (Adam Serrinha 74), Jordan Toland, Ronan Curtis, Darragh Black, Padraig Ferry (Conor McLaughlin). Other subs, Odhran Coll, Shay Durning, Gavin Grier.

St. Joseph’s Boys: Dean Mahon, Liam Traynor, Dylan Barnett (Adam Coates 85), Robin Doyle, Jordan McGrath Ebbs, Conor O’Neill, Sean Burke, Fionn Geoghegan, Aaron Byrne, Matthew Byrne (Dylan Watts 79), Alan Kehoe.

Referee: Joe McHugh

Assistants: Marty McGarrigle, Ronan Floyd.

Man of the match

The St. Joseph’s team boasts no end of quality and it’s likely that several of these players will go on to play at a decent level. Striker, Aaron Byrne, who scored twice, was probably the pick of a very good side. But Swilly were far from outclassed and in Dylan Hegarty they had the man of the match. The midfielder was superb throughout and scored a memorable headed equaliser to send the game to extra time. Keeper, Caolan Bolton was another player who did very well. He produced one brilliant save, pushing the ball onto the post when a goal seemed certain late on.

Others to play well for Swilly were Dominic Hull before he got injured, Kyle Burke and Ronan Curtis.

Ref Watch

The importance of having a full team of officials for such a crucial game was underlined as early as the fifth minute when Padraig Ferry’s ‘goal’ for Swilly was ruled out by a linesman’s offside flag. Joe McHugh and his two assistants handled the game well and the ref. was right to penalise some late time wasting from the visitors with a yellow card at the end of normal time.

Key Moment

The equalising goal from Swilly’s Dylan Hegarty which sent the game to extra time. Deep into injury time at the end of normal time, Swilly mounted one last attack and Hegarty found himself on the end of a brilliant cross from the right from Darragh Black. The Swilly captain’s back post header was sent looping back across goal and into the net. It was an amazing conclusion to the tie and ensured there would be a further 20 minutes of extra time.

Talking point

So Swilly’s great cup run comes to an end but Jim McCahill’s young team can still complete their season on a high. They play Letterkenny Rovers at Finn Park on Wednesday night in the final of the Donegal U-16 Champions League.