United look to bridge eight year gap in provincial final

Soccer: TP Brennan Connacht Junior Cup Final

One step from glory: Westport United will be in Connacht Cup final action on Sunday. Photo: Westport United

One step from glory: Westport United will be in Connacht Cup final action on Sunday. Photo: Westport United

It's eight years since Gary Cunningham was the hero for Westport United in their last Connacht Junior Cup final victory.

The Westport shot-stopper saved two spot kicks in a penalty shootout in Eamon Deacy Park to give the black and red side a win over Athenry and their first Connacht Junior Cup title in a quarter of a century.

Now eight years later, Cunningham and his side are back in the provincial decider and looking to bring the trophy back home when they take on Salthill Devon in the final on Sunday afternoon.

It will of course be a final with a difference - minus their usual boisterous and raucous support, as the game will be played behind closed doors in Solar 21 Park in Milebush.

United needed penalties to book their place in this year's decider, seeing off West United 4-2 from the spot after extra time, with Cunningham once again playing a key role, saving a vital penalty, with Jack Murphy scoring the spot-kick that send them back to the final. It was nearly over and out for United in that game in normal time, with a late, late Phil Keegan goal pulling them level at the death and sending the game into extra time.

In the rounds before that it was much easier for United, who put six past Ballinasloe Town in the quarter-final where Keegan needed a hat-trick and five past Tuam Celtic in the round before that in early August, where Peter Corcoran struck twice.

It has been all go for United since the resumption of activities on the soccer scene, with their heart-breaking loss at home to Oliver Bond Celtic in the semi-final of the FAI Junior Cup being put behind them as they bounced back in the Connacht Junior Cup and also the Mayo Super League, where they have won three from three over the past few weeks.

Their opponents on Sunday have been playing plenty of challenge games along with their outings in the Connacht Cup since the resumption of football - but Galway domestic season isn't down to start until the weekend after next. In their semi-final, Devon were 1-0 winners over St Bernards and they put six past Castlebar Celtic in the quarter-final and four past Cortoon United in the fifth round of the competition, so United know they are facing a serious test.

With players like Gary Kinneen, Mikey Fox, Conor Murray and goalkeeper Arek Mamala all key players for the Galway outfit, a serious game is on the cards on Sunday.

TP Brennan Connacht Cup Final

Westport United v Salthill Devon

Sunday, September 6 at 2pm in Solar 21 Park.

 

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