Friday, 21 January 2011 15:06
The exhilarating clash between Manulla and Westport United in the fourth round of the FAI Junior Cup at Carramore on Sunday will be remembered as a tale of two penalties, one that was scored and one that wasn't.
Defender Damian Coleman's failure to convert from the spot early in the second half to put the home side 2-1
ahead proved a key factor in their exit from the series.
And when Mark McNally found the net from a penalty at the other end 10 minutes later, it inspired an understrength United to orchestrate an emphatic victory.The margin of their win would have been greater had it not been for the outstanding form of goalkeeper James Jennings, who produced a string of magnificent saves.
Manulla started very brightly and put enormous pressure on a United defence without its talisman, Joe Lawless, due to personal commitments.
The fragile nature of the Westport rearguard was exposed in the opening moments when Enda McGahon poached a marvellous goal following a sweeping attack. He should have scored a second before seven minutes had elapsed, but he rolled his finish wide despite having United goalkeeper Niall Gallagher at his mercy.
It took United a long time to regain their composure, incisive runs by experienced duo Gerry McLoughlin and David Cameron into the Manulla half helping to alleviate the pressure on central defender Martin Geraghty who was carrying a toe injury.
They succeeded in restoring parity shortly before half time when the persistent Mark McNally directed a McLoughlin cross from the right into the Manulla net from four yards.
Westport's defensive jitters resurfaced three minutes into the second half when Colm Keane needlessly fouled Roger Clarke 15 yards from his goal and referee Damian McGrath awarded a penalty after consulting with his linesman, Barry Blake, who flagged the offence.
When McGahon drove his attempt inches wide it marked the beginning of the end for Manulla.
United took the lead when they were awarded a spot-kick of their own in the 57th minute, central defender Tommy Walsh harshly adjudged to have impeded McNally after the Westport striker had forfeited his shooting opportunity.
McNally picked himself up and smashed the penalty with conviction past Jennings. The goal signalled a period of dominance by United during which David Cameron, Vinny O'Malley and McNally spurned decent opportunities of extending their lead.
They were almost made pay for their profligacy when Roger Clarke was denied a Manulla equaliser by the crossbar while United goalkeeper Niall Gallagher was also forced to make a save of the highest quality from Johnny Griffin with four minutes remaining. United finally sealed their passage to the next round against City United (Sligo) with a third goal in the dying seconds by midfielder Tom McGing.
It was no more than he deserved for a display full of character and commitment.
The encounter ended on a sad note when Manulla striker Enda McGahon was stretchered off with a suspected recurrence of a knee injury that kept him out of the game for an extended period last year.
Westport United 3
Manulla: J. Jennings, D. Gallagher, C. McGlade, T. Walsh, D. Coleman, J. Griffin, G. Durkan, L. Alsworthy, R. Clarke, E. McGahon, M. Byrne.
Subs used: B. Cuffe, C. McDonnell.
Westport United: N. Gallagher, C. Keane, A. O'Malley, M. Geraghty, K. Joyce, T. McGing, G. McLoughlin, S. Tagg, D. Cameron, M. McNally, V. O'Malley.
Subs used: R. McLoughlin, D. Mulchrone.
Ref: D. McGrath (Inver).
●Star rating: Mark McNally...vital goals.
Picture shows Westport United's Mark McNulty slot home his sides first goal against Manulla keeper James Jennings. Photo: David Farrell photography.