THE FAI Junior Cup kicked off in style at the weekend for the one Kilkenny club involved in first round action.
Highview Athletic, who enjoyed a glorious run to the final 32 in last year’s competition, got that winning feeling back again as they got the better of Carlow’s Stretford United in a high-scoring Sunday morning clash.
The Graig men travelled to Carlow Town for the first round clash, but must have felt they had left something at home as they fell a goal behind inside two minutes. Rather than panic, Athletic pushed on and got their reward just a few minutes later when William Flood converted a penalty after Ian Kavanagh had been felled in the box. Kavanagh hit the target himself soon after, blasting Highview into the lead from 20 yards. Stretford levelled matters once more, but were stunned when Flood bagged a wonder goal at the end of a mazy run.
The hosts grabbed another equaliser before half-time, but were left to play the second half with 10 men after getting a red card before the break. Athletic used the extra man to their advantage, taking a decisive lead when Shane Ralph hit the net with a shot from outside the box.
Although the visitors were reduced to 10 men themselves following P.J. Brett’s dismissal, they didn’t let their lead slip. Seamus Kavanagh made sure of their place in the second round when, with five minutes to go, he got on the end of an Ian Kavanagh cross to seal Highview’s place in round two and a home tie against Moyne Rangers in October.
Round Two fixtures featuring local teams are: Bridge United v Woodstock Celts, Newpark v Killenagh Rangers, New Ross Town v Lions, Southend United v Evergreen, Fort Rangers v Bunclody, Highview Athletic v Moyne Rangers, Freebooters v Coill Dubh, Stoneyford United v Arklow Town.
In local competition it was a Sunday to remember for Evergreen, who had an impressive morning in the Maher Shield.
The Kells Road club scored 12 goals in two wins and kept a pair of clean sheets for good measure as their A and B teams advanced to the next round of the Maher Shield on Sunday morning.
Title holders Evergreen A made home advantage count as they beat Urlingford 7-0. Scorers for the champions were David Grincell (2), Chris Whearty (2), Dylan Whearty, Jamie Owens and Vinny O’Brien.
The Evergreen B team had to go on the road for their win, but made the trip to Ballyhale a worthwhile spin as they beat Southend United 5-0. Adrian Kealy and Connie Barry helped themselves to a brace apiece, with Mark Cashin adding the fifth for the city side.
Freebooters A were big winners also on Sunday, beating River Rangers 5-0 to progress to the next round. The Blues were helped on their way with an own goal, but strikes from James Kelly, Greg Morton, Dessie Hayes and Eddie Clifford swelled the winning margin.
Their club-mates Freebooters B weren’t as fortunate, as they crashed out 2-0 to Thomastown United A. Steven Connolly and Paddy Khan got the goals for the Division One champions in the afternoon fixture on the ’Green.
Other winners in the city on Sunday were Bridge United A. Murty Broaders and Sean Barcoe picked up where they had left off before the All-Ireland break, getting on the scoresheet again as the Goresbridge men saw off AC Kilkenny. Willie Hennessy also scored in their 3-2 win.
Another in-form striker maintained his scoring run on Sunday. Steven Thomas took his tally to five in four games as the Lions A team beat Brookville 5-2 in Durrow. Danny Lennon also helped himself to a brace, with Lee Campion getting the fifth for the rampant hosts. Things were a lot tighter in the all-Division One clash in Johnstown, as Spa United beat East End United 2-1.
Out in Wallslough Kenny Morris scored in normal time as Fort Rangers were held to a 1-1 draw by Freshford Town. Despite missing a number of players the Premier Division side held their nerve when it came to spot kicks, winning 4-3 thanks to Eddie Nugent, John Bambrick, Jim Nugent and Jim Cahill.