Westport United 2
(After Extra Time )
The season is either over or only beginning, which ever way you want to look at it for Westport United, but come the end of extra time in Milebush on Saturday night Westport United didn't mind either way as they claimed the Connacht Senior Cup thanks to and extra time win over Athenry. United have long been the standard bearers for junior soccer in Mayo and claiming the Connacht Senior Cup for the first time in the clubs history was just reward for a valiant effort over 110 minutes by Padraig Burns and Kevin Joyce's side in Castlebar.
The fact the game was level at only one a piece at half time was a mystery as both sides attacked with abandon in the opening 45 minutes, leaving the back gate open for each other to try and nick in and grab a couple of goals. The second half was a far more tepid affair as both management teams used the half time break to get some defensive stability back into their sides and afterwards the entertainment vale dropped as the more composed and quality possession football both sides can play came to the fore.
Athenry were first to draw blood after only four minutes, Kevin Carr chased a long ball into the danger area and riffled off a shot which Martin McGreal in the Westport goal save well, the ball broke out agin to the back post where David Caroll was lurking and he was able to finish the ball to the back of the net despite the best efforts of Joe Lawless on the line. The Galway men had their tales up and Cathal Fahy forced a good save out of McGreal again on six minutes after being put in by Jamie O'Driscoll. Less than a a minute later McGreal was forced into a good save again when a cross from the right from Paddy Quinn was met a the back post by Kevin Carr who was only able to steer it at the grateful McGreal.
It was 12 minutes before Westport really threatened, when Dave Cameron set Dessie O'Malley away down the left flank, his low cross was missed by Kieran Kilkelly in the Athenry goal and as Cameron was about to drill the ball to the net, Emmett Byrne just got back in time to nick the ball away for a corner. From the resulting set piece Dave Horkan rose high but could only direct his header over the bar.
With twenty minutes left to go in the half Dessie O'Malley had a glorious chance to level the game up when he met Colin Navin cross with a header eight yards out, but placed it straight into the breadbasket of Kilkelly in the Athenry goal. Dave Hoban then hit a shot from the edge of the area that looked to be looping to the top corner of the net, but he slightly over cooked his effort which rolled down the back of the net on the outside to the disappointment of the Westport faithful who thought it had gone in. The best chance of the half fell to Athenry striker Cathal Fahy who beat the offside trap to race on to a through ball, rounded McGreal who had no option but to come out, but some how managed to sky the ball over the bar from six yards out in fornt of a open goal to the amazement of everyone in the ground.
Fahy's miss was punished just on half time, when Dave Hoban fired the ball to the back of the net, Dessie O'Malley picked up the ball just inside the penalty area on the left, he tried to curl the ball to the right hand corner, but his effort was blocked. O'Malley collected the rebound and cooly slid the ball into the path of the on coming Hoban who riffled the ball to the bottom left corner with a smashing strike to tie the game up.
The second half saw both sides tighten up a the back and with it, cut off the supply of chances each had afforded each other in the opening period and as the clock drew down to a close, neither side wanted to risk loosing it late on so the tie was going to be decided over two periods of ten minutes of extra time. Five minutes into the first period the decisive moment occurred. Westport swung in a corner which wasn't cleared and Vinny O'Malley found the ball dropping in front of him six yards out with only the keeper to beat, as he got ready to pull the trigger he was taken down from behind by Emmett Byrne and the referee had no hesitation in pointing to the spot. Dessie O'Malley stepped up and confidently planted the ball to the back of the net from the spot to put his side ahead. Westport started to shut up shop from then on in and it was only deep in injury time when Paddy Quinn headed the ball off the bar did the Galway men seriously threaten as Westport hung on for a famous win for the black and red army.
Westport United: Martin McGreal; Colin Navin, Colm Keane, Martin Geraghty, Joe Lawless; Danny Scahill, Dave Horkan, Dave Cameron, Vinny O'Malley, David Hoban, Dessie O'Malley. Subs: Kevin Joyce for Dave Hoban, Gerry McLoughlin for Colm Keane, Philip Keegan for Dessie O'Malley
Athenry: Kieran Kilkelly; Shane Gillhooley, David Crimmons, Ronan Kineen, Emmett Byrne; David Carroll, Alan O'Donovan, Jamie O'Driscoll, Kevin Carr; Paddy Quinn, Cathal Fahy. Subs: Connor Cannon for Jamie O'Driscoll, Damien Collins for Shane Gillhooley, Brian Costello for David Crimmons