Westport Utd 1
Westport Utd had to play “second fiddle” to a quality and experienced Athenry side that played a high tempo game for the most part of the 90 minutes. There was a fair amount of good football from both sides at various stages despite the hard and bumpy pitch. This game was played in a good spirit despite some strong challenges from both sets of players. The wind factor, which favoured Westport in the first half, did not help in allowing the game to run fluently.
Athenry opened at a fast pace and a sign of things to come developed when towering centre back Emmett Byrne headed Seamie Crowes’s corner kick narrowly over the bar after two minutes. Athenry kept up the early pressure and Brian Mannion went past Ray McLoughlin to cross for the in-rushing Jamie O’Driscoll to head past the helpless Niall Gallagher in the Westport goal after five minutes. Westport should have done better in the 12th minute when David Cameron’s free kick from 25 yards rebounded off the Athenry goalkeeper into the path of Kevin Joyce and Joe Lawless, but neither player could connect properly and the danger was averted. Stephen Rabbette missed a spot kick for the home side when he powered his shot against the cross bar and away to safety.
David Hoban, who had arrived late for the game, was introduced at the beginning of the second half for Westport to the exclusion of Colm Keane — Westport reverted to their normal format of a four man midfield. Athenry however were first to create a chance when Jamie O’Driscoll set up Brian Mannion but his left footed effort went narrowly wide. Westport responded immediately and quick thinking by Danny Scahill at a throw in found David Hoban — Hoban passed to Kevin Joyce, who expertly shot beyond Kilkelly in the Athenry goal from 20 yards to level matters after four minutes in the second half. Westport could now see that the home defence were vulnerable and maintained the pressure. Some four minutes later, Westport should have taken the lead when a super pass from defence by Joe Lawless found David Cameron in space slightly to the right of goal but his effort from 10 yards went across the face of the goal with only the keeper to beat.
Westport were to pay the penalty for this miss when Lawless was guilty of failing to find his team mate with a pass that ended up with Cathal Fahy. He rounded two defenders and his sublime left footed curling shot found the top corner of the net to give the home side the lead once again on 60 minutes with an absolute gem of a goal. The game was wrapped up after 65 minutes when a Westport defender got caught in possession by Andy Forde — Forde powered into the penalty area and the referee deemed Danny Scahill’s challenge to have taken down Forde, much to the annoyance of the Westport players and awarded the home side their second penalty. Rabbette found the courage to take the spot kick again, and made no mistake on this occasion to make it 3 – 1 to the home side. In a final attempt to recover, Westport introduced Dermot Mulchrone and went three at the back, but the home side held on for the win.
Athenry: K Kilkelly, S Rabbette, M Noone, R Kineen, E Byrne, J O’Driscoll, R Cannon, S Crowe, B Mannion, C Fahy, A Forde. Subs: N Hynes, P Cullen, W Carr, M Moran, A Cronin.
Westport Utd: N Gallagher, J Lawless, R McLoughlin, M Geraghty, C Cameron, D Cameron, D Scahill, D Horkan, K Joyce, C Keane, G McLoughlin. Subs: C Navin, D O’Malley, D Hoban, D Mulchrone, G Cunningham.