Westport Utd 2
Browne 36, Keegan 100
Iorras Aontaithe 1
AN extra-time goal from Phil Keegan ensured that Westport United claimed the inaugural FCS Cup after a hard-fought victory over a spirited Iorras Aontaithe side at Milebush Park on Saturday.
It’s eight years since Iorras won the league title, but they burst out of the traps in this decider. After only 30 seconds, Séan Gaughan broke down the left and he crossed for Ivan Barrett. Gary Cunningham rushed out of his goal to narrow the angle but referee Tony Cosgrove blew his whistle. Everybody in Milebush thought it was a penalty for Iorras, but Cosgrove went over to consult with his linesman Martin Regan and after much deliberation, a hop ball was awarded, much to the frustration of the large Iorras support.
Westport, unusually for them, began slowly. Winger Gerry McLoughlin had their first chance, but put the ball just wide after good work from Darren Browne and Keegan. Then came the first real goalscoring opportunity when Westport midfielder Pat Fitzgerald played Keegan in one-on-one with Enda Conroy, but the striker rolled his effort past the post after getting the beating of the Iorras ’keeper.
Iorras put a lot of pressure put on their more illustrious opponents, and took a deserved lead after 20 minutes. Brendan Nallen’s through ball released Gaughan down the right and he squared the ball for Barrett, who had the simple task of rolling the ball past Cunningham.
Westport responded well, however. A David Horkan header came off the bar, but referee Cosgrove had already signalled a foul on Conroy. The Covies got back on level terms after 36 minutes with a brilliant goal. McLoughlin’s corner was punched up in the air by Conroy, and the ball dropped to Browne, who hit it brilliantly on the volley, and it flew into the top corner.
Iorras started the second half well but Michael Togher curled his effort just wide. At the other end, Austin O’Malley crossed for Keegan, whose header was well stopped by Conroy, but that was Westport’s only chance of the second half as Iorras took control of the midfield area. They had a good chance on the hour mark when Gaughan fired wide after Westport failed to deal with a loose ball.
With extra time looking inevitable, Keegan went down in the area. Westport supporter John Joe Geraghty led the appeals for a penalty, but none was forthcoming. Then came the chance for Iorras to win it. Substitute Mark Gilbert found himself one-on-one with Cunningham but fired straight at the Westport stopper. However, after a scramble, the ball found its way to Gilbert again, but he curled his effort wide with Cunningham on the ground.
And so the game went into extra time, where Westport seized the initiative with the last kick of the first additional half. Out of nothing, a loose ball found its way to Keegan just inside the box. He hit it across the despairing dive of Conroy into the corner of the net to break Iorras hearts.
The goal knocked the stuffing out of Iorras and Westport dealt comfortably with late pressure. And so the wait goes on for the barony boys, while United picked up their first piece of silverware under their new management team. In his post-match acceptance speech, Westport United captain Joe Lawless paid tribute to Iorras for a great game before lifting the FCS Cup aloft.
G Cunningham, A O’Malley, K Joyce, J Lawless, M Geraghty, P Fitzgerald, D Browne, D Horkan, P Keegan, D Cameron, G McLoughlin.
Subs used: A Carroll for Fitzgerald; L Staunton for McLoughlin; D Scahill for Browne.
E Conroy, M Meeneghan, N Geraghty, D Reilly, L O’Donoghue, M Togher, A Mills, J Cafferkey, S Gaughan, I Barrett, B Nallen.
Subs used: J O’Donoghue for Gaughan; M Gilbert for Barrett; P Barrett for Meeneghan.
Referee: T Cosgrove