Connacht U17 ‘A’ Quarter Final
Venue: Athenry Date: Friday 13th February
Result: Rice College 1 – 2 Presentation College, Athenry (AET)
Defeat is hard to take at the best of times but when your opposing team scores a goal in the last minute of extra time, it’s pretty much unbearable! With 8 players unavailable, either through injury or illness, and a pitch which would test Ronaldo & Messi, it is testament to the fantastic panel of players that Rice College nearly won this game.
After a journey of nearly two hours, it always takes a while to get going. This proved to be the case as we conceded after just 5 minutes. We dominated the rest of the half with decent chances going to Peter Corcoran, Killian Killkelly and Stephen O’ Malley. At the other end, Paddy O’ Malley made a terrific save as they nearly went two up on the stroke of half time.
We went out all guns blazing after the break and finally made the breakthrough. Stephen O’ Malley on the shoulder of the last defender got in and took his chance brilliantly chipping the onrushing keeper. Rice were well on top at this stage but the mind is a funny thing. As soon as we got the goal, we sat back. The rest of the half was nip and tuck. It was an intriguing affair. Rice, with a nice passing game trying to probe through the Athenry defence, whereas Athenry were using pace and power trying to hit Rice on the counter attack. To be fair, Athenry were a good side and it was very even right up until the full time whistle.
At the last minute of normal time, their keeper handled the ball outside the box, giving away a free kick and earning himself a yellow card. Killian Killkelly set up Stephen O’ Malley who struck a pile driver. Heaven will only know how it didn’t go in. The keeper somehow palmed it onto the post and gathering up the rebound. Extra time.
At the start of extra time, we lost Jack Murphy through injury. He had troubled Athenry all afternoon and was a big loss. The game ebbed and flowed with no team getting any clear cut chances. Penalties beckoned but right at the end of extra time, Athenry made a fortunate and heartbreaking breakthrough. Crazy as this game was, we went straight down the field and nearly equalised with the last kick of the game but it was not to be.
No one player can be singled out as everyone played their part. The lads can be very proud of their effort. Thanks to TJ Hughes for the pictures from the game.