Neither Iorras Aontaithe nor Westport United took the easy road into the last 32 of the FAI Junior Cup last weekend. The two remaining Mayo sides in the competition were made to sweat it out right until the end, with Iorras having to endure the dreaded lottery of penalties to book their place in the next round. Indeed both sides had to come from behind in their games, Erris trailed Dublin Bus by 2-0 just before half time in their encounter in Carnenash.
A start like that will not be good enough in the next round and Iorras player manager Eric Reilly knows it. “I don’t think we have played as bad as we did in the opening 20 minutes in years. We just never got going early on and if it happens again we will be in trouble seriously.” The penalty was scored by Reilly himself just before the break and it gave his side the boost they needed in the second half according to himself. “We had a good shout for a penalty that was turned down just before that one, after the opening 20 minutes we got completely on top of the game and when we got the goal we knew the game was there for the taking. We sat down at half time and got ourselves ready for the second half of the game.”
John Gaughan got Iorras’s second goal after the hour mark as Dublin Bus gave into their constant pressure, it was only a matter of time until they got the second goal according to Reilly. “We were camped in their half for the majority of the second half, not being disrespectful but once we pulled ourselves together after the bad start they didn’t really offer much, maybe one chance for the rest of the game. Where as we could have scored maybe seven or eight times.”
The lottery of penalties was what decided the fixture, and Reilly is thankful his side have one of the best keepers in the game. “Shane saved a couple of their spot kicks, but that’s nothing new for him, he’s one of the best in the game and we are glad to have him.” Next up for Iorras in the competition is Limerick side Pike Rovers who will pose a very difficult obstacle for Iorras as they try to get into the last 16 of the competition for the first time in their history. “Pike will be a tough team to beat, but they have to come up here so it won’t be easy for them at all. We’ve been to the last 32 a few times before, it would be nice to get into the last 16 and hopefully further.”
With the Mayo league season not starting until the end of May this year, it has been a non-stop 12 months for the men from Erris. “We started training in early January last year and it’s been all go since then. We had a very poor start to the Super League in Mayo and weren’t playing well or enjoying it, so we had a talk one night and since then we’ve drawn one and won 14 of our last games so we are on a real good run of form. We just have to keep it up now for the FAI Junior Cup and the Connacht Cup which we are still in also.”
Westport leave it late
While Iorras were coming back from a two goal disadvantage, Westport were trying to climb their own small mountain in Mayfield in Cork. The Covies were one down from early on with 20 minutes to go until a four goal late spell sent them into the last 32. Dave Cameron and Martin Geraghty scored in the 73th and 74th minutes to cancel out the Dillon’s Cross opener. The win looked to be wrapped up but with two minutes left on the clock Mark Walsh headed the game level and extra time looked on, only for Vinny O’Malley to have a punt from distance with time almost up and seal the win in dramatic circumstances.