CONNAUGHT JUNIOR CUP, QUARTERFINAL
S&F make Oranmore pay the penalty for sloppy shooting
IT wasn't pretty but it was effective, and it resulted in Straide & Foxford reaching the semi-final of the Connaught Junior Cup with a win on penalties against Oranmore FC of Galway.
Darren Flatley emerged the S&F hero in the shootout, saving Oranmore's second penalty from much-travelled striker Eric Levine and scoring one of S&F's five successful kicks.
But, fittingly, the game's best player, Shane Hughes, had the final say, slotting his penalty safely to the left-hand side of Conor Leyden's goal for the winning score.
It wasn't a game that will live long in the memory, especially a first half that was devoid of goalmouth action.
The home side enjoyed the advantage of an intermittently stiff wind but they struggled to come to terms with it – as, indeed, did their opponents.
Oranmore stiffened their resolve in tandem with the wind in the second period, pinning the hosts back more and more as the game wore on.
They created chances too but a combination of wayward shooting and some outstanding saves from Flatley kept the visitors at bay.
Hughes tormented them too, fighting terrier-like for possession in the middle of the park and fending off all-comers when the Oranmore men attempted to win the ball back.
Many in the Green Road ground believed he had won a penalty early in the second half when he was bundled over in the visitors' 18-yard box but referee Pat Foley was having none of it.
Oranmore's best chance in normal time fell to Levine midway through the second half when he controlled Lonan O'Farrell's low cross but shot into the side-netting.
O'Farrell was a threat, as was Alan Barrett, but their shooting was generally off-target.
And after withstanding some serious pressure, S&F had two chances on the break late in the second half.
Both fell to substitute Paul Fitzpatrick, who found the side-netting with his first effort and hurried his second when he probably had more time that he realised to shoot for goal. The effort went harmlessly wide.
Oranmore were within inches of a winner in the second period of extra time when Dave Devlin broke through and managed to poke the ball underneath Flatley but Pat Reid made an outstanding goal-line clearance to keep the game scoreless.
The visitors scored first in the penalty shootout through O'Farrell but Gerry Gaughan responded in kind for S&F. Then came Flatley's excellent stop to thwart Levine, while Paul Moran scored S&F's second to give them the advantage.
Flatley couldn't keep out efforts from Julius Leke, Devlin or William Embulele, but in scoring himself in addition to successful efforts by Fitzpatrick and Hughes he had a major bearing on S&F's wonderful win.
Straide & Foxford United: D. Flatley, P. Reid, D. Smyth, J. Jordan, M. Costello, S. Walsh, S. Burke, A. Atkinson, P. Moran, C. Downey, S. Hughes.
Subs used: P. Fitzpatrick, G. Gaughan, M. Smyth.
Oranmore FC: C. Leyden, H. O'Neill, B. Crowe, W. Embulele, J. Latchford, D. Iggie, T. Kelly, A. Barrett, E. Levine, D. Devlin, L. O'Farrell.
Subs used: M. Fahy, J. Leke.
Ref: P. Foley (Westport).
●Star rating: Shane Hughes...covered every blade of grass.