Shootout agony for Athenry in Connacht Junior Cup finalMay 15, 2012 - 7:14am
Westport United 0
Athenry FC 0
(AET-Westport won 4-2 on penalties)
The wheels came off the Athenry bandwagon at Terryland Park on Sunday when they suffered a first ever Connacht Junior Cup final defeat as a penalty shootout decided the destiny of the title.
Having previously never lost a shootout, they exited the FAI Junior Cup in similar fashion away to Milford and on this occasion one can only credit Westport goalkeeper Gary Cunningham when making two smashing saves to keep out the efforts of Gary Delaney and Alan O’Donovan.
A swirling wind and later rain made conditions very difficult and as a result the match never rose to any great heights.
Athenry goalkeeper John Grealish had his only real save to make on just four minutes, when he pushed a David Cameron piledriver around a post. The visitors only other opportunity came on 35 minutes when Vinny O’Malley got on the end of a David Hoban knock down, but he somehow lifted his effort well over the bar.
Athenry for all their industry seldom threatened in the box. A Gary Forde near post flick was gathered by Cunningham, while Conor Cannon failed to make a proper connection to a Cathal Fahy pass.
The visitors were certainly the more industrious side on the resumption, as Cameron and Fitzgerald had efforts blocked in a crowded area.
Again Athenry could not get bodies forward in numbers, with just Ray Moran and Conor Cannon threatening, when having shots blocked on the edge of the box.
Extra time brought no added joy to either side
as the rain came down and in the penalty shootout Athenry started well, as Grealish saved from Fitzgerald, while Stephen Rabbitte scored.
However as Hoban and Scahill scored for Westport, Cunningham began his heroics with smashing saves to deny Delaney and O’Donovan.
Browne and Moran exchanged further efforts to leave matters at 3-2 and the responsibility for the last penalty fell to Westport captain Kevin Joyce. His low effort into the corner kicked off a massive pitch invasion and after he recovered, Joyce
collected the Connacht Cup from Chairperson Teresa McCabe.
For more, read this week's Connacht Sentinel.