Football can be a cruel game at times and never was that as evident than at an Screaban on Saturday afternoon as the Waterford Youth League emerged victorious 8-7 on penalties over their Donegal counterparts in the interleague quarter finals after an afternoon of high drama which saw the game finish scoreless after extra time.
Donegal Youth League 0
Waterford & District 0
(after extra time). Waterford won 8-7 on penalties
The game was initially pencilled in for the Aura Centre but after heavy rain late in the week was diverted to the splendid facilities at the home of Gweedore Celtic FC and hopes were high that Donegal would advance following an impressive run as they topped their group with two wins from two.
Both sides found it difficult to get into their stride with the first half a scrappy dour affair with neither side really threatening with the closest either came to breaking the deadlock was in the 7th minute when a speculative free kick into the box from Waterfords Niall O'Keeffe eluded everyone when the merest touch would have surely secured an opening goal while the Deise men also saw an effort from the lively Danny Ogundele well saved by Dane Dunworth in the Donegal goal.
Donegal had some speculative efforts from Jonah Serrinha and Michael Devine but both never really troubled visiting custodian Shane Burke while Donegal were also on the wrong end of a couple of narrow offside calls much to the chagrin of the home support.
The second half was alot more open and Dunworth had to be at his best to deny halftime sub Brian Cooke and the highly impressive David Walsh with two cracking stops before Donegal came right into the tie to dominate the remainder of the game and created a number of good chances of themselves to secure that all important opening goal.
Jamie McKinney shot just over on the hour mark while Cody Brogan went around the goalkeeper before squaring for Michael Devine to slot home but before he could retreating central defender Blake Kellyoats did extremely well to clear.
That began a real purple patch for the home side who saw Eoghan Kelly shoot over on 69 before a manic goalmouth scramble saw Kelly, Serrinha, Brogan and Devine somehow fail to convert while the chance of the game fell on 90 minutes when Brogans had an effort smothered by the keeper before the rebound fell to Darragh Greene and his shot was again blocked down by the goalkeeper Burke before Greene blazed over with a second attempt..
Waterford had come close just moments earlier when Jamie McKinney pulled off a fantastic goalline clearance to deny Cooke but the game was destined for extra time.
Donegal were the better side in extra time and will wonder what might have been as they had a goal very harshly rued out by referee Danny McLaughlin at the end of the first period of overtime. Michael Devines super free kick came back off the post and was slotted home by Eoghan Kelly but somehow the Inishowen officials deemed Kelly to be offside which provided a big let off for Waterford and their management team who breathed huge sighs of relief on the touchline.
The game remained deadlocked and went to the penalty shootout and it looked over when Donegal missed their opening two efforts but Fanad goalkeeper Dunworth impressed when pulling off two super saves as it was 3-3 after the regulation 5 kicks apiece.
The shootout went to sudden death and Donegal missed their 8th kick before Dunworth saved Waterfords 8th effort before it went to 7-7 after ten penalties each but Dunworth then missed the 11th effort when shooting over before Waterford netminder Shane Burke slotted his home to win it for the visitors which no doubt made the long run home all the more shorter but tough lines on a Donegal side who were improving through the tournament and deserved not to lose with a committed and hardworking performance.
DONEGAL: Dane Dunworth, Jamie McKinney, Brad Patterson, Eoghan Kelly, Conor Duggan, Eoghan Kennedy, Jonah Serrinha, Ryan Toye, Michael Roarty, Michael Devine, Cody Brogan. Subs., Darragh Greene for Toye 72 mins, Jerome Duffy for Kennedy 90 mins
WATERFORD: Shane Burke,Eoghan Butler-McGrath, Danny Reynolds, Desmond Hlamen,Tommy McGrath, Ben Breslin, Luke Walsh, David Walsh, Danny Ogundele, Niall O'Keeffe, Alex Casey Subs: Blake Kellyoats for McGrath 32 mins, Brian Cooke for Casey 45 mins, Favor Eddy for Ogundele 78.
REFEREE: Danny McLaughlin