Goals from two seasoned campaigners saw Salthill Devon progress to the third round of the Umbro FAI Junior Cup on Saturday afternoon in Renmore, although they made hard work of seeing off a game but limited home side.
Little over a decade ago, in 1994, Renmore were making waves at the national stage of this competition, reaching a semi-final before going on to win two Premier Leagues and a Connacht Senior Cup in subsequent years.
Now they languish in the bottom tier of the local game, but at no stage on Saturday did Devon look like a team 42 places above them in the standings. This was due to a combination of Renmore’s hard work and application and Salthill’s poor performance which, for the second week in a row, still ended up with them emerging victorious.
The ball was in the back of the net in under two minutes, but it was not the Premier side who had gained the early advantage. A long ball over the top left the Salthill defence claiming in vain for offside and left winger Dave Barrett galloped away before drilling a shot past ‘keeper Noel Holland at his near post.
Rocked by the early concession, Devon struggled thereafter to find their rhythm or play the game at a decent tempo. When they did manage to string a couple of passes together their most effective route to goal proved to be the right flank where full-back Ronan Silke and Noel Tyrell combined well, but found an eager defender in youngster Rory Gaughan blocking their path on more than one occasion.
Tyrell’s first decent cross on 10 minutes was flicked into Conor Killeen’s path by Shane Cox but the midfielder’s effort was partially blocked by the brave defending of Bernard Carberry, who was tireless throughout. As Salthill struggled to play the ball through their opponents, crosses from deep seemed their most likely route to an equaliser, with the presence of Mike Lyndsey in the forward line.
It was to prove to be the case, but it was not the lanky striker who headed them level. Instead it was midfielder Cox who glanced home Brian Naughton’s floated delivery from close range in the 19th minute. Now level, Devon were expected to push on and force the issue, but while their passing improved slightly, a lack of pace up front meant their attacking options became predictable and easily read.
Indeed it was Renmore who were next to threaten, albeit only a token overhead kick from Ciaran Hynes which trickled wide, but Brian McGuinness’ pacy run and cross provided hope yet for the home side.
Salthill did manage to conjure another goal, which proved to be the winner, before the break. It was not a flowing move or bit of magic which undid the home side, though, rather Salthill’s first corner of the game in the 35th minute. Tyrell’s cross was flicked on by Lyndsey and Paul Fitzpatrick was on hand to take a touch before rifling emphatically to the roof of the net.
The second half was memorable for its distinct lack of memorable incidents. Renmore threatened to level on two occasions, through the head of Carberry and the right foot of Alan Concannon, but both went to the left and wide as their only registered shot on target proved to be the early goal.
Salthill were equally as bad in front of goal. Silke’s volley did force a good stop from Stephen Doherty but never did they look like pulling away from their lowly opponents. It was a performance to forget in a hurry from the away side and manager Dave Silke will be hopeful there aren’t too many replicas of it in the coming months, or a relegation battle with a resurgent College side is a distinct possibility.
Renmore: Stephen Doherty; Dave Lavelle, Bernard Carberry, Lorcan Fox, Rory Gaughan; Brian McGuinness, Alan Concannon, Eoin Noone, Dave Barrett; Niall Crosby, Ciaran Hynes.
Subs: Jonathan Norman for Crosby (12 mins ), Lawrence Hutchinson for Lavelle (77 mins ), Conor Crosby for Hutchinson (88 mins ).
Salthill Devon: Noel Holland; Ronan Silke, Paul Fitzpatrick, Sean Nevin, Brian Naughton; Noel Tyrell, Conor Killeen, Shane Cox, Theo McCoy; Mike Lyndsey, Ronan Gilligan.
Subs: Rossa Mullis for McCoy (45 mins ), Alan McGee for Shane Cox (54 mins ), Mustapha Kassimi for Gilligan (75 mins ).
Referee: Pat Barry.