Skibbereen Community School 1 - 1 Ardscoil na Mara
Skibbereen Community School win 3 - 1 on penalties.
Report by Sean Spenser
Reaching the quarter finals of the Munster Cup is a remarkable achievement, especially when you take into account the fact that it is the first year that Skibbereen Community School has existed. Tramore were set to be their biggest challenge as of yet. A fantastic team travelling all the way to Lyre from Waterford to play the match. Both teams had a lot on the line, but both ready to give their all.
After a fairly cagey start from Skibbereen, it looked like Tramore would have an easy win, comfortable in possession and threatening to break through at any moment. Twelve minutes in, a misplaced pass fell straight to Thomás O'Mahony. Unfortunately he did not watch the bounce as it sailed over his head, allowing the striker to run into the box one on one and slot home. 1-0 to Tramore and they didn't look like letting it slip. Skibbereen picked up the pace a bit as the half went on, but couldn't find the final incisive pass to break the well organised defence of Tramore. Going into half time a 1-0 scoreline was very fair. Tramore had left the foot off the pedal a small bit after their first goal, but were fantastic defensively.
Half time seemed to be a changing point in the match. Skibbereen seemed to be able to break down Tramore that little bit easier in the second half, yet Tramore still seemed to be able to hold off all attacks. Everything looked hopeless until the fifty fourth minute when James O'Neill won a free kick out wide, after holding off three players, all trying to foul him. About 30 yards out a shot wasn't impossible, but a cross seemed more likely. The ball was whipped with pace into the box, but was cleared by the first man. James O'Neill ran out to meet the ball, took one touch and looked to put in another cross. It bobbled up just as he was about to hit it and his cross looped over the keepers head into the net. With less than five minutes left Skibbereen had equalized. As the final whistle blew, Skibbereen would have considered themselves very lucky to still be in the game. With less possession and an early goal against them, it was remarkable that they kept their heads high and got back into the game.
Extra time was a cagey affair. Neither team wanted to risk too much going forward, but both teams were giving it their all defensively. The only real chance of extra time fell to Jack O'Brien in the second half, as he ran through on goal, with the ball at his feet. However playing over a full game of football is eventually going to take its toll and as he went one on one with the keeper, the defender just about caught up, meaning he had to take his shot early. It proved no real test for the keeper who saved easily to his left.
With extra time over it left only one thing, the lottery of a penalty shootout. Whether you love them or hate them, they play a massive part in every knockout competition around the world. With arguably even more pressure on the takers at schoolboy level, the nerve needed to take one is amazing. Many people would back away, but someone has to take one. With the teams takers chosen, it was time to take to the stage. Skibbereen were set to take first. Captain Robbie Minihane was left with the challenge of getting his team off to a flying start. He buried home in the bottom left of the goal. Tramore's taker missed the target leaving it 1-0 Skibbereen. Next up was Isaac Harte. He scored one of the calmest penalties you'll see. He smashed it bottom right, sending the ball through the side netting. Tramore again failed to hit the target, leaving Skibbereen in a very comfortable position of 2-0. As Eoin Murran took his walk to the spot, the pressure was building and building. If he could bury this, it would leave Skibbereen in an exceptional position. However he blasted it over the bar! Tramore's number 3 capitalized and finished right in the side netting, making it 2-1. Still time for a comeback for Tramore. Jack O' Brien knew what he had to do - score to leave his team in a great position. He placed it high to the keepers right. The keeper stood his ground and got nowhere near it. Not the greatest penalty, but it did the job. As Tramore's 4th taker stepped up, he knew the situation - miss and his team was out. He placed it low to Cormac McCarthy's left, only for Cormac to read him exactly and make a diving save to win the match! None of the Skibbereen players realised what had happened as they looked at the ref, waiting for the verdict. The Tramore players however were fully aware of the conclusion. All of them head in hands dreading the long trip home. Once the ref had made sure of the final result, there was a sudden burst of joy (and relief) from the Skibbereen players. They were through to the semi-finals. A fantastic result to add onto this fairytale run. Who knows how far they can go!
Man of the Match: James O' Neill - The central midfielder had a game to remember. He did everything he needed to do. He would have been happy with his first 50 minutes. He was fantastic defensively, great on the ball, very rarely gave the ball away. However, when you add to that the fact he scored an equalizer with 4 minutes to go, just enhances the fact he had a great performance. He had a fantastic extra time, winning every loose ball, winning every physical battle and playing every right pass. His goal had only made him even more determined to win! For the extra time period, he was basically a one man wrecking ball, stopping every Tramore attack. A great performance after getting his team back into the game!
Starting XI: Cormac McCarthy, Eoin Murran, John Leahy, Robbie Minihane, Thomás O' Mahony, James McCarthy, James O'Neill, Jamie O'Driscoll, Jack O'Brien, Isaac Harte, Donnachadh Maguire.
Substitutes: Feilim O'Donovan (Thomás O'Mahony), Jason Nott (Donnochadh Maguire), Tuan Shorten (Jack O'Brien), Jack O'Brien (Tuan Shorten).
A massive thank you to Ardscoil na Mara who travelled all the way down from Waterford to get the game played. They played a fantastic game of football, which really was close. It could have gone either way. Unfortunately the game was decided by a lottery, which is a bit unfair considering how well they played. I'm sure they will go on and give a good go at winning any other competitions they enter.