Penalty shootout de­spair for Ashford

Con­yard’s men bow out

Bray People - - SPORT -

WICK­LOW cham­pi­ons Ashford Rovers bowed out of the Le­in­ster Se­nior Cup in heart­break­ing fash­ion last Sun­day in Car­low. Clifton Con­yard’s men turned in a gal­lant dis­play for 120 min­utes against a strong Hanover Harps side only to see a po­ten­tial clash with Dublin pow­er­house Sher­iff YC wres­tled from their grasp in a penalty shootout.

A pleas­ant af­ter­noon saw the Ashford men ar­rive at the bob­bly pitch nes­tled snugly in the heart of sev­eral hous­ing es­tates.

Con­yard’s men would be with­out the ser­vices of some stal­warts such as Danny Byrne but would be look­ing to a healthy mix of youth and ex­pe­ri­ence with the likes of Andy Earls, Jack Geraghty and Jamie Byrne lin­ing up with war­riors such as Brian Coen, Mick Tay­lor and Bren­dan Man­ning as they looked to get past the Car­low cham­pi­ons who pos­sessed the tal­ented Ray Walker, Sean Ka­vanagh and Murt Bam­brick in their ranks and had for­mer Car­low GAA foot­baller Derek Hay­den listed as a sub­sti­tute.

Ashford Rovers would start brightly. Jack Geraghty brought Hanover Harps goal­keeper Kevin Power into the game early on with a snappy shot while Andy Earls pulled an ef­fort wide af­ter seven min­utes from an Anto Byrne cor­ner.

Hanover Harps set­tled into the fray and they looked strong in places. Ray Walker would en­joy a huge game but would be pushed all the way by Andy Earls who kept him com­pany through­out.

The home side will won­der how they didn’t cause Cathal Moody more of a prob­lem when a Si­mon O’Shea cross wasn’t dealt with by the Ashford de­fence and Niall Quin­lan looked to have a sim­ple tap home at his feet, but he made a mess of it and Moody gath­ered eas­ily.

Bren­dan Man­ning cre­ated a half-chance out of noth­ing af­ter 13 but he won’t want to watch the video of his fi­nal ef­fort back too many times as his left-footed ef­fort was so way­ward it didn’t even go wide.

You knew there were goals in this game, the ques­tion was how many there would be and, more im­por­tantly, who would score them.

Hanover Harps al­most broke the dead­lock on 22 min­utes when Murt Bam­brick’s ef­fort wal­loped off Moody’s cross­bar. This was fol­lowed by a wicked shot from Si­mon O’Shea af­ter 24 that ca­reered wide.

The writ­ing was on the wall for Ashford Rovers. They were go­ing to fall be­hind be­cause they weren’t switched on at the back and Niall Quin­lan’s opener af­ter 31 came about as a re­sult of that sleepi­ness as he walked through the Ashford de­fence to fire home.

Nine min­utes later Ashford would equalise; Andy Earls get­ting on the end of a ball to poke home past Kevin Power for a sweet goal. And it could have been even bet­ter had the im­pres­sive Ruad­han Fal­lon Ver­bruggen’s am­bi­tious lob not sailed ag­o­nis­ingly over the Hanover cross­bar af­ter 52.

More slack de­fend­ing from Ashford 12 min­utes into the sec­ond half saw Stephan Chal­ton fire home but barely 60 sec­onds had elapsed be­fore Robbie Eyre lashed home af­ter a lovely move from the vis­i­tors.

Ashford’s game was im­prov­ing steadily, and they were look­ing con­fi­dent of com­ing away from the Car­low venue with vic­tory. And they had their chances. Brian Coen had an ex­cel­lent chance and Andy Earls fired wide from dis­tance. In be­tween those shots Hanover switched Murt Bam­brick and sub­sti­tute Ben Dar­gan and a few mo­ments later Clifton Con­yard in­tro­duced Naoise Treacy for Jack Geraghty and sent him across to pick up Bam­brick.

Nathan Doyle would be in­tro­duced for Ashford with Finn Brooks re­treat­ing to left back and Cian Marah would come in for Andy Earls as we looked des­tined for ex­tra-time and be­yond.

Ashford’s Jamie Byrne was op­er­at­ing up front in ex­tra-time and he showed his class when he fired home a rip­per right at the death of the first half. Could Ashford hold on? Un­for­tu­nately, not. A fine move down the right wing by Ben Dar­gan saw him slip a ball across to Dy­lan Walsh who fired home from close range, 3-3.

On to penal­ties then and things were look­ing promis­ing for the vis­i­tors when Moody got down to save Ben Dar­gan’s spot kick af­ter suc­cess­ful strikes from Robbie Eyre, Bren­dan Man­ning and Ruad­han Fal­lon Ver­bruggen.

Jamie Byrne con­tin­ued the scor­ing from the spot, but Brian Coen’s ef­fort was saved by Kevin Power and when Niall Swan con­verted it was 4-4.

Cian Marah, Mick Tay­lor and Finn Brooks found their tar­gets but Naoise Treacy blazed over af­ter hav­ing trou­ble find­ing a de­cent ground­ing for the ball which is never a good thing to see for a pe­naty taker.

That left it at 7-7 with Hanover next up. Goal­keeper Kevin Power as­sumed the re­spon­si­bil­ity and he lashed home a beauty to kill the Ashford dream.

Tough way to lose but a mon­u­men­tal ef­fort from Clifton Con­yard’s men.

Ashford Rovers, who bowed out of the Le­in­ster Se­nior Cup at the hands of Hanover Harps of Car­low.

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