MONKSLAND UNITED 1
ASHFORD ROVERS 3
With the senior team deprived of the chance to defend their Counties Cup title due to a waterlogged pitch, it was left to the Monksland United ‘young guns’ to fly the flag for the club, as the under 19s welcomed Ashford Rovers to Cushla Park for a Leinster FA Cup fixtures on Saturday afternoon.
United had high hopes of enjoying another good run in the competition having reached the quarter finals last season. However, it proved to be a disappointing outing for the hosts as they were beaten by the Wicklow outfit on a 3-1 score line.
Early season form for Monksland had been good with only one defeat from seven games in the league as they lie in second spot behind Mullingar Athletic. However, playing opposition from outside the Midlands is always a journey into the unknown as Ashford soon took a grip on proceedings.
Both teams were busy from the kick off in the bitterly cold conditions. Monksland had much possession early on but the visitors always looked dangerous on the break and so it proved when Ashford opened the scoring just after the quarter hour mark. A home attack broke down and further punishment followed as a swift breakaway offensive paid off.
It was not the desired start for the ‘Land but they were rewarded for their endeavours with an equaliser on 25 minutes. Pressure paid off when Darragh Moore was fouled inside the penalty area and Mark Greene stepped up to take the resulting spot kick, sending the goalkeeper the wrong way with a neat finish. Monksland looked set to make it to the break on level terms but were undone late in the opening half, a counter attack again proving detrimental as Ashford carried a narrow advantage into the break.
United were still in contention when play resumed and were soon in pursuit of another equaliser. It did not arrive though as the lead was further stretched by the visitors when a long ball up field from the keeper unsettled the home rearguard and the ball was finished to the net.
There was still time to recover for United and they continued to put pressure on the visitors. A crucial moment came midway through the half when the home team were denied what would surely have been a goal. Greene found himself with only the keeper to beat after latching onto a kick out, but the top scorer was pulled back for offside which Monksland disputed as it added to their frustration.
It may have been the wrong call but United kept going and had further chances before full time. Tomas O’Neill tried his luck from long range as Shane Gavin and Greene also came close to hitting the target. The hosts could not force a grandstand finish as their dream of a good cup run on the national stage ended.
The under 19s will have to wait to bounce back from this cup exit as they are set to be idle this weekend.