Ulster Region SFAI cup final U14 : Full time: Carrick Rovers 0-0 Letterkenny Rovers
After extra time: Carrick Rovers 1-1 Letterkenny Rovers
Penalties: Carrick Rovers 11-12 Letterkenny Rovers
Carrick Rovers welcomed red hot favourites Letterkenny Rovers to the Ballybay road on Saturday 26th November 2016 for the U14 Ulster Region SFAI Cup Final. It was a dull November day but there was certainly nothing dull about what was to unfold. Letterkenny who are one of the best young sides in the country have taken some big scalps in this competition in recent years including St Josephs in Dublin last year and they finally bowed out to St Kevins Boys.
They have added handsomely to their squad with 3 key players from the Donegal squad who went all the way to the National Inter League Final where they lost to the DDSL.
Carrick were in no doubt as to the task ahead, but have shown some great improvement in this seasons cup with good wins against Ballyhaise Celtic, Quigleys Point Swifts and away to Bonagee United with the squad strength being the key.
The game kicked off at 12 noon and right from the first whistle you could see that every ball was going to be contested aggressively by both teams. This made for a very cagey opening 15 minutes with a lot of the game being played in the middle third of the pitch. Both teams were trying to get the ball wide and play, but there was minimal time on the ball and it was no place for the faint hearted.
There wasn't a chance of note for either team early on but Jack Dwyer won a free kick on the edge of the Carrick box after 20 minutes which he clipped the top of the crossbar with. Zach Donnely and Stephen O'Rourke weren't getting much change out of the Letterkenny rearguard but their workrate was admirable and Letterkenny were finding it hard to work the ball out from the back. There was a real ding dong battle in the middle of the pitch but Flynn Holland, Nathan Mc Nally and Daniel Mc Cahey were putting in the shift of their lives and Carrick were breaking even in there.
Nathan Plumb and Jack Dwyer came into the game with big reputations but they were finding it very hard and were allowed no space by a courageous, well organised back 3 of Cormac Alfred, Keith Farnan and Cathal Maher and frustration was starting to creep into their game as the half ticked away.
Luke Mc Sharry and Dylan Byrne were working their socks off on the wings but were being denied any space by Rory Pyper and David Boyle. Daire O'Shea was having a quiet day in the nets and dealt comfortably with anything Letterkenny threw at him and contolled his box all day.
As the half wore on Leon Doherty was having more of an influence on the game and he was starting to cause a few problems on the right for the home side but there was to be no breakthrough as the half time whistle sounded.
Half time 0-0
Letterkenny started the second half on the front foot with their back four now starting to control the game and push the Carrick lads deeper and deeper. Ben Mc Connon almost hit them on the break but he was adjudged to be offside. With 15 minutes left Joel Gorman found space on the edge of the Carrick box and he hit a beauty which came back off the post and was cleared from danger.
Daniel Mc Cahey and Ben Mc Connon both had half chances but neither could find the target. Carrick were looking more dangerous at this stage and Marcus Obajuluwa found himself in space on the edge of the Letterkenny box but he failed to get his shot away. That was the last chance of note and the game went to extra time.
Full time 0-0
Extra time kicked off and Carrick were looking the better side and were now getting more time on the ball, they worked a nice triangle out on the edge of the Letterkenny area and Daniel mc Cahey put Nathan Mc Nally in but he rushed his shot and it went outside the post.
Carrick were now creating more and Conor Cassidy was preparing to go in, but they gave the ball away in the middle of the pitch and Letterkenny broke and Leon Doherty rounded Conor Martin and rolled the ball past the onrushing Daire O'Shea to put Letterkenny 1-0 up.
Letterkenny were now looking for a second as Carrick were on the ropes but they had to go for it. There was to be yet another twist as Keith Farnan made an excellent challenge on the edge of the box and Nathan Plumb gave the referee no choice but to give the young lad a straight red for a late challenge on the defender who took a nasty blow to the head. That was the last action of the half.
Half time in extra time 0-1
Carrick were now pushing Letterkenny back further and further and Oran Mc Mahon came in at centre forward. Letterkenny were now on the ropes but Carrick were running out of time. With time running out Carrick won a corner and this would surely be their last chance. Nathan Mc Nally attempted to attack the corner and got goal side of Rory Pyper who pushed him to the ground and the referee had no choice but to award the penalty, Rory Pyper had been playing on the edge all day and he received his second yellow card and was sent to the line. Nathan Mc Nally put away the penalty but Carrick had no time to take make use of their numerical advantage as the referee blew for full time.
Full time extra time 1-1
That wasn't the end of this pulsating encounter which now had to be decided on the lottery of penalties.
Carrick missed first but Letterkenny couldn't take advantage and it finished 4-4 meaning it would go to sudden death. With the score at 11-11 Carrick missed and James Gallagher finished coolly to end this pulsating encounter.
It was heartbreak for Carrick and you could see how much it meant to the players. They worked so hard for this and should feel very proud of this performance as they raised the bar yet again with their never say die attitude.
They say you have to love something to do it really well and Carrick Rovers showed their passion for the game of soccer in abundance on November 26th against one of the top sides in the country. Well done to Ulster Champions, Letterkenny Rovers but Carrick Rovers gained a lot of respect in this heroic defeat and showed that CMUL teams are capable of competing with the best in the country. Well done to referee Paul Rooney who had an excellent game and kept control on a fiercly competitive contest. TO DARE IS TO DO.
Carrick Rovers: Daire O'Shea, Cormac Alfred, Keith Farnan, Cathal Maher, Luke Mc Sharry, Nathan Mc Nally, Daniel Mc Cahey, Flynn Holland, Dylan Byrne, Zach Donnelly, Stevie O'Rourke, Oran Mc Mahon, Ben Mc Connon, Conor Martin Marcus Obajuluwa, Conor Cassidy.
Letterkenny Rovers: Killian Gribben, Leon Doherty, James Barlow Gallagher, James Lenty Gallagher, Sean Mc Veigh Conor Mc Daid, Dermot Slevin, Rory Pyper, Joel Gorman, Nathan Plumb, Jack Dwyer, David Boyle, Johnny Pearson, Liam Hannigan, Sean Mc Ginley.
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