FAI Senior Cup - Blarney v Sporting Fingal
First half goals from Eamon Zayed and Conan Byrne ensured Sporting Fingal’s progression to the fourth round of the FAI Cup despite a valiant and well contested game at O’Shea Park in Blarney last night. The Munster Senior League side struggled to get up the pace of the game initially with former Drogheda United striker, Zayed looking threatening from the start. The visitors' team was laced with former League of Ireland Premier Division players and as Fingal bombarded the Blarney goal early on, there was a touch of inevitability about the opening goal when it came on the five minute mark. Having already forced a save from goalkeeper, James McCarthy, Zayed found the target when he connected sweetly with Ross Gaynor’s cross from six yards out. Three minutes later Shaun Williams effort made for comfortable handling for McCarthy who was beaten by Conan Byrne from close range, however the goal didn’t stand as Byrne had drifted offside before Williams had a chance to deliver the cross. McCarthy was kept busy as the visitors bombarded the Blarney defence and almost scored their second on 26 minutes when Shaun Williams forced a finger-tip save from the home goalkeeper, while teenage defender, Aiden Leahy cleared off the line from a Zayed header. Indeed Leahy was putting in a fine performance having been assigned the tough task of man-marking Zayed. But Fingal’s consistent pressure bore fruit just four minutes before the break, when Byrne was quickest to react after McCarthy failed to collect Lorcan Fitzgerald’s cross. Blarney came out resurgent in the second half and kept the visitors entrenched in their own half for a sustained period. Indeed the home side were desperately unlucky not to pull one back immediately after the restart when Mark Clifford’s point blank effort forced a superb reaction save from Darren Quigley, who was back in action two minutes later to finger-tip Conor Meade’s dipping effort over the bar. Blarney’s John Hogan was then denied by the crossbar on 56 minutes after his effort completely deceived Quigley as Finbarr’s team continued to exert all the pressure on the League of Ireland side. Fingal were now the side that were off the pace with Blarney’s Kenneth Coleman and Ray O’Leary bossing midfield. Teenage centre-half, Aiden Leahy was commanding at the back and despite having endured a busy opening 45 minutes he had Eamon Zayed tucked neatly in his back pocket for the entire second half. Blarney were again unlucky not to score a goal 11 minutes from the final whistle when Conor Meade spotted that Darren Quigley was well off his line, but he snatched at the opportunity from 25 yards and was desperately unlucky to see his effort sail just wide. However, Fingal should have made it 3-0 in the dying minutes when Eamon Zayed released himself from Leahy’s shackles to get a shot on target but James McCarthy was quick to react and again made a decent save to ensure the deficit remained at just two goals. The defeat signals the end of Blarney’s season and it was a fitting tribute to manager, Finbarr Hogan, when his players formed a guard of honour and applauded him off the O’Shea Park turf after what was his final game in charge.
Blarney: James McCarthy, Stephen Jennings, John Meade, Ken Coleman, Aiden Leahy, David Ahern, Ray O’Leary, Mark Clifford, Conor Meade, Gary O’Riordan, John Hogan. Subs: John Gaffney for Stephen Jennings (54), Edwin Buckley for Mark Clifford (67), Liam O’Connor for David Ahern (83) Not used: Shane Barrett
Sporting Fingal: Darren Quigley, Brian Gannon, John Frost, Shaun Williams, Lorcan Fitzgerald, Gareth Whealan, Conan Byrne, Shane McFaul, Eamon Zayed, Alan Kirby, Ross Gaynor. Subs: Robert Bayly for Shane McFaul (77), Fiachra McArdle for Conan Byrne (85). Not used: Colm James, Gary O’Neill, Robbie Horgan
Referee: A. Buttimer
Courtesy: Lisa Fallon & Evening Echo
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