Thomastown United A 2
Deen Celtic A 1
DESSIE Walsh rolled back the years, striking a double as Thomastown United’s A team staged a smash and grab run in the McCalmont Cup.
The long-time United servant hit the net twice as the hosts booked their place in the last 16 of Kilkenny’s premier cup competition. Walsh handed United a lifeline with a headed equaliser 13 minutes from time, then hit the winner seven minutes into the opening period of extra-time.
Walsh started and finished the move that put his side in the hat for the next round. Pushing the ball out to Barry Maher on the right wing, Walsh sped into the box and collected a deft return pass before hammering an unstoppable shot inside Robbie Lynch’s left post.
The league fortunes of both sides were in stark contrast - Thomastown are going for the Division One title, Deen battling to stay in the Premier - but you wouldn’t have thought as much in the first half.
On his toes
United’s goalkeeper Paul Dunne was kept on his toes to deny the visitors on 15 minutes. Awarded a free close to the endline on the left, Richie Lynch whipped in a ball which Dunne was forced to tip over his bar.
Thomastown came into the game after that, bossing possession but they couldn’t conjure up real chances. Stephen Connolly’s pace was a threat, often pegging Deen back, but he couldn’t find the final shot his efforts deserved.
Neither, for that matter, could his team-mates. Dessie Walsh knocked Kevin O’Neill’s corner back across the box, the 24th minute delivery just begging for a touch to find the net, but no United player could provide it. Sub Derek Lanigan, an early replacement for the injured Peter Hanrahan, also went close when his half-volley deflected off a Celtic defender on the half hour, but netminder Lynch wasn’t troubled by the shot.
Deen had been on the backfoot for a spell, but hit back on the stroke of half-time. Peadar Boran showed great strength to win a midfield battle and provide a great ball to send Richie Lynch away. The striker dashed into the box but was clipped from behind by Kevin O’Neill.
Awarded the penalty Lynch made no mistake, coolly rolling the ball into the bottom left corner to push his side into the lead with the last act of the half.
Stung into action, Thomastown raised their game in the second half but still couldn’t find a way through. Davy Prendergast floated in 54th minute free which Eamon Lyster got his head to, but he couldn’t stop the ball from going over.
When they did get the ball on target they found Robbie Lynch to be a source of frustration. The Celtic ’keeper made a key stop on 57 minutes, getting down low to turn a stinging Connolly free-kick away from danger.
He was called into action again after the hour, as Prendergast slipped Derek Lanigan through, but Lynch stayed big to make a good stop at his left post.
Celtic were under the cosh after the restart, but did have a chance to relieve the pressure and double their lead. Richie Lynch did well to hold a long ball from Peadar Boran up and then break into the box. The chance of a shot looked on, but defender Davy Wemyss did well to deflect the ball to safety.
That missed ‘chance’ proved costly, as the pressure finally told on Celtic. Thomastown pushed more players forward, going to three at the back as they searched for that equaliser.
It was a gamble, but it paid off when Walsh hit the jackpot with 13 minutes left. Another United stalwart, Richie Bolger, provided the opening with a long ball out of defence. Goalkeeper Lynch called for the bouncing delivery, but was left in no man’s land when Walsh popped up and sent a looping header over the advancing netminder and into the net.
Thomastown were revived by that goal, but spurned a great chance to take the lead after Connolly was tripped in the box in extra-time. Andy Kavanagh had that shot when he stood over the penalty, but he blasted his kick high and to the right.
Deen were off the hook - but not for long. Within a matter of minutes, Walsh struck what proved to be the winner.
Thomastown United A: Paul Dunne, Kevin O’Neill, Robbie Kavanagh, Richie Bolger, Davy Wemyss (Barry Maher, 75 mins), Peter Hanrahan (Derek Lanigan, 3 mins), Andy Kavanagh, Eamon Lyster, David Prendergast, Dessie Walsh, Stephen Connolly (Ethan Corr, 98 mins).
Deen Celtic A: Robbie Lynch, Ronan Phelan, Eric Kavanagh, John Deevy, Caleb Roche (Shane Ruth, 53 mins; Ciaran Stone for Ruth, 101 mins), Anthony Kavanagh, Stephen Ruth, Shane Renwick, Richie Lynch, Peadar Boran, Johnny Kavanagh (Andrew Carron, 37 mins).
Referee: Eoin Walsh.