They were the only Kilkenny & District League team in action over the weekend, but Evergreen made sure the locals flew the flag with pride.
A polished and professional performance was the order of the day as the city side came home from Enniscorthy with a place in the third round of the FAI Junior Cup safely secured.
Hosts Moyne Rangers troubled the Kilkenny side for long spells, but were largely undone by Evergreen’s speed of tactical change and their resolution.
The big swing in the game came just after the half hour, when player/manager Packie Holden rang the changes. Making a switch from his place in goal Holden brought in Brian Jordan for Ben Hickey, changing to a solid midfield trio.
Within a matter of minutes, the tactic paid off. Looking more solid through the centre, Evergreen surged forward. Robbie Quan did the legwork, driving on before releasing the ball to Chris Whearty. His cross was flicked back across the box by Sean Barcoe, the ball taking a fortunate touch off a defender and landing just right for Conor English.
There was nothing lucky about the finish. English took one look at the ball and, moving on to it, unleashed a thundering shot that screamed into the left side of Garry Murphy’s net.
The goal came at the right time for Evergreen, who had been well in the opening half but rode their luck a little.
While both sides had plenty of possession, Moyne were guilty of spurning the lion’s share of goal chances.
The game was only five minutes old when the hosts could and should have taken the lead on a sun-kissed Sunday morning. John Peare carved Evergreen open with a perfect ball out the left for Mark Kirwan to chase. Racing past Damien Kelly Kirwan did well to pick out Robert Vickers from the endline, but Vickers could only steer his shot straight at Holden.
Kirwan and Vickers teamed up again little over 60 seconds later. Once more Vickers was denied, this time by Oisin Corr’s timely block. The ball came back out to Kirwan, who looked to curl a neat shot inside the far post, but his effort ended up just outside its intended target.
It wasn’t all one-way traffic. Sean Barcoe had a sniff at goal when Chris Whearty rolled a 14th minute pass to him but he couldn’t get the ball out of his feet in time, giving Murphy the split-second he needed to smother the danger.
Murphy’s opposite number was just as busy soon after. Tommy Foley caught Evergreen cold with a cleverly-lofted ball for Vickers, who burst through a defensive gap. Once more Vickers had a clean sight of goal but Holden dashed from his line and spread himself, forcing Vickers to blast wide.
Evergreen knew they had gotten out of jail, but should have made better use of the chance that followed after David Grincell was taken down in the box by Murphy. Sean Barcoe stepped up to take the 19th minute spot kick but Murphy redeemed himself diving low to his right to beat the ball away to safety.
Despite that missed oportunity Evergreen kept on the front-foot. Grincell flashed a 22nd minute over the bar, while Conor English gave Murphy a fright when the netminder had to palm the midfielder’s 25th corner out from under his own crossbar.
Play went back up the other end, with Vickers spurning another chance to break the deadlock. Ryan Mahon did the damage with a defence-splitting pass. Vickers had time to race through and, when bearing down on goal, seemed certain score but Holden stayed big, getting his body in the way to block the 32nd minute shot.
The visitors had enough warnings by then, shuffling their pack and bringing Jordan into the fray.
Within minutes they had taken the lead, but didn’t rest on their laurels. Oisin Corr went within a whisker of making it 2-0 when he got on the end of a Whearty corner, but his glancing header smashed into the side netting.
With Jordan sitting in front of the back four Evergreen proved a tougher nut to crack in the second half, but Moyne kept trying. They had an early chance to get back into the game when sub Anthony Russell slipped a diagonal ball through for Jamie Fox but he miscontrolled the pass at the vital moment.
It was Evergreen’s turn to threaten after that, almost punishing a needless foul on David Grincell in the corner. Chris Whearty’s quick 53rd minute free was picked up by Conor English, who fired in quick cross for Jamie Owens to stab goalwards, but Garry Murphy was on hand to make the save.
With their defence well on top the visitors had a stronger presence up top in the second half. Grincell had another penalty claim when he was upended in the box by the combined efforts of Murphy and Pa O’Shea, but this one was waved away.
Still they pressed for more goals, going close again when Barcoe showed his strength and pace to fashion another chance.
Bursting down the left flank, Barcoe shrugged off three would-be challengers before reaching the endline. He still had energy to fizz a low ball across the face of goal, but Ryan Mahon made a goal line clearance before Evergreen could pounce.
Having survived those scares Moyne began to believe they could force a late equaliser, but Evergreen had a plan for that too. Ciaran Snype was brought into the fray, his pace and constant pressing forcing Rangers on the backfoot when they wanted to stay on attack.
Any remaining hopes Moyne had of forcing a late way back into the game were quenched as, with one stylish move, Evergreen made the game safe with nine minutes to spare.
With Owens and English working a quickly-taken free the ball was fed back to Damien Kelly, who lofted a teasing ball into the box.
Moyne had concentrated so much on the initial ball they failed to pick up David Grincell, who had time to control the delivery before coolly tucking his shot past Murphy and send his side into the next round.
Moyne Rangers: Garry Murphy, Rory O’Connor, Ryan Mahon, Pa O’Shea, Richie Farrell, Jamie Fox (Tomas Mahon, 59 mins), Robert Vickers, James Peare (Peter O’Rourke, 70 mins), Tommy Foley (Anthony Russell, 46 mins), John Peare, Mark Kirwan.
Evergreen: Packie Holden, Damien Kelly, Tommy Earls, Robbie Quan, Oisin Corr, Sean Barcoe, Conor English, Jamie Owens, David Grincell (Dylan Whearty, 84 mins), Chris Whearty (Ciaran Snype, 65 mins), Ben Hickey (Brian Jordan, 35 mins).
Referee - Jim O’Neill (Wexford).