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Penalty puzzler knocks Utd out

Penalty puzzler knocks Utd out

Round 5
Portmarnock    2

McGinley 44, Rickard 106
Westport United    1
O’Connor 48

Padraig Burns

A GOAL four minutes from the end of extra-time last Sunday put an end to Westport United’s ambitions in this season’s FAI Junior Cup. United had battled back from conceding a goal late in the first half to draw level and the least their endeavours looked like being rewarded with was a penalty shoot out.
But Brian Rickard had other ideas and his well-struck volley from 20 yards somehow crept through a packed penalty area and landed just inside Martin McGreal’s left hand post.
The outcome was harsh on United. They were severely weakened before they even travelled to Dublin but then they lost Eoghan McHale on the eve of the game and David Cameron, though he played on until near the interval, was in bother from ten minutes in when he shipped a heavy tackle that wasn’t even punished with a free kick.
It wasn’t the only decision by referee Joe O’Hanlon that had the travelling fans scratching their heads in wonderment. His decision to award a corner after David Hoban was fouled by two defenders inside the penalty area just after the start of extra time was mindboggling. The only decision that faced the referee at that juncture was to decide which of the defenders needed to be red carded for preventing a goal scoring opportunity. Just why he made that decision is difficult to fathom and only the referee can explain it.
And yet, even allowing for that decision, this was a game of football that should have been won by United. The chances were created but as some wise head uttered out loud on the sideline, ‘chances don’t win games’. He was proved right. The game was only ten minutes old when Paul Fitzpatrick broke from the half way line but instead of squaring to Dessie O’Malley he opted to go himself and his last touch let him down.
But Fitzpatrick didn’t let it upset him and he had an immensely impressive first full outing for United. Both O’Malley’s, Vinny and Dessie, could have scored before the break and Fitzpatrick shot into the side netting and had an effort cleared off the line as United tore the home defence to shreds with their pace and invention.
Portmarnock did pose the United defence some problems and their aerial power was a real threat but with Austin O’Malley and Colin Navin outstanding at the back, Martin McGreal was seldom troubled. That remained the case until a minute from the interval when Noel McGinty powered home a header from six yards that gave McGreal no chance.
The second half was not long on when United nearly equalised but Austin Hannon deflected a sublime volleyed effort from Vinny O’Malley wide. However, from the resultant corner, Brendan O’Connor rose highest and his header gave Hannon no chance. It was O’Connor’s sixth goal in the last seven games and all from set pieces. However, instead of building on the goal, United sat back and invited Portmarnock onto them. They nearly paid for the policy on numerous occasions and only for some incredible last ditch defending and two superb stops by Martin McGreal the home team would have regained the lead.
Yet United looked dangerous on the break at all times, particularly through the pace of Fitzpatrick and Dessie O’Malley, while the perception of Vinny O’Malley and the physical threat of David Hoban meant they were always in with a real chance of scoring. Fitzpatrick almost did when he linked with Hoban but his volley flew over while Hoban himself was denied by a wonderful Hannon save when he dived to his right. A minute after Hoban had his penalty claim turned down, Joe Lawless spurned a glorious chance when he headed over a Dessie O’Malley free.

Westport United
M McGreal; C Navin, A O’Malley, B O’Connor, A McLoughlin; D Cameron, J Kelly, J Lawless, D O’Malley; V O’Malley, P Fitzpatrick. Subs.: D Hoban for Cameron; B Fahy for Kelly; A Mulchrone for McLoughlin.
A Hannon, B McDonagh, B Rickard, A  McDonnell, Colm Bell, N McGinty, D Pepper, C Sheridan, D Hardy, D Kelly, Colin Bell. Subs.: J Gaines for McDonagh; A Corcoran for Pepper; T Alcock for Kelly.
Referee: J O’Hanlon.

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