Letterkenny Rovers advanced to the last eight of the FAI Youth Cup after showing great resilience to somehow get the better of Waterford side Ballinroad on Saturday at the Aura Centre.
Letterkenny Rovers 2
Huge roars of delight greeted a 2-0 win which looked a long way off as Ballinroad set about their task with a sense of purpose.
Centre forward Michael O'Neill showed all the attributes of a big bustling striker and he should have put the visitors ahead on eight minutes while the crossbar came to the rescue of Rovers after a fine Ryan O'Neill 25 yard drive.
Gavin Joyce also came close before a rare Rovers attack led to the opening goal against the run of play on 17 minutes.
A free kick by James Tourish caused some confusion in the box and in nipped birthday boy Tarlach O'Boyle who got a very slight touch to divert the ball past Aaron Beresford in the Ballinroad goal.
Ballinroad responded well and O'Neill twice came close twice to equalising before half time.
Rovers were far better in the second half and stuck to their task gamely. They enjoyed longer periods of possession but the visitors still created a number of chances through O'Neill, Joyce and Oisin O'Mahony while David O'Donnell came close for the Cathedral Town men.
The introduction of Conor O'Donnell and Michael Gallagher on 70 minutes made a difference and gave Rovers some added width. It was young starlet Gallagher who was the architect of the insurance goal on 83 minutes when doing well to scythe open a weak Ballinroad defence before finding Codey Brogan whose shot cannoned off Zach Gorman and went in.
The goal wrapped up the win over the shellshocked visitors who will wonder how they couldnt convert some easy chances while on top in the opening period.
Rovers have now advanced against the odds to a quarter-final clash and anxiously await the draw which could be made as early as Tuesday.
Letterkenny Rovers: Sean Friel, Calvin O’Brien, James Tourish, Eoghan Kelly, Ruairi Friel, David O’Donnell (Conor O’Donnell 69), Sean Curran, Shane Doherty, Codey Brogan, Tarlach O’Boyle (Michael Gallagher 69); Zach Gorman.
Ballinroad: Aaron Beresford; James Beresford (Sean Whelan-Barrett 82), Peter Quealy, Conor Whelan, Mark Boland, Gavin Joyce (Mark Allen 82), Ryan O’Neill, Oisin O’Mahoney, Michael O'NeillTony Collins (Tom Looby 73), Patrick Power.
Referee: Mick Lagan.