EVERGREEN geared up for their Leinster Senior Cup clash by tasting victory in another competition.
Eddie McEvoy’s side, who play Crumlin in the provincial competition this weekend, kept their winning momentum going with a battle against AC Kilkenny – and the elements – to move into the semi-finals of the Pat Maher Shield.
An incessant downpour made for miserable conditions at Scanlon Park on Sunday morning, so it was no surprise that it took time for both sides to find their rhythm. It was Evergreen who threatened first after Andrew Hickey and David Grincell carved AC open with a quick one-two and pass to Joe Mulcahy, but his 17th minute shot was brilliantly stopped by Lewis Arnicar, who pushed the ball to safety.
That was the brightest spell in what was a bleak morning, but Evergreen’s attacking persistence paid off when they took the lead on the half hour.
Mulcahy, who had threatened up front, made the breakthrough with a solid burst down the left. A quick ball found Grincell inside the box, but defender David Tyrrell upended him before he could shoot.
Mulcahy took the penalty duties and made no mistake, sending the ’keeper the wrong way from the spot.
Evergreen pushed hard for a second goal and went close to doubling their lead five minutes later. Mulcahy was in the thick of things again, latching on to a high ball before taking off for goal. Breaking through it looked like he would chip Arnicar for a second, but the ’keeper stayed big long enough to make the save.
AC Kilkenny had been under the cosh for most of the half, but almost nabbed an equaliser five minutes before the break when a long throw-in broke off an Evergreen defender. Darren Hayes was well placed to seize on the ball inside the six-yard box, but a scrambled block denied him his moment of glory.
Evergreen heeded that scare and hit back. They went within a whisker of taking a 2-0 lead in at the interval when a quick corner between Mulcahy and Jamie Owens teed up Grincell, but his shot was cleared off the line by the ever-alert John McCormack.
Evergreen continued in that attacking vein early in the second half. Half-chances flowed for sub Vinny O’Brien and Mulcahy, who shaved the post with a stinging 55th minute shot, but the second goal wasn’t long in coming.
Fresh from a hat-trick last week, O’Brien kept up his goal run when he made it 2-0 just 60 seconds later.
Dashing in from the left, O’Brien lost his marker and drove a powerful shot high into the far side of the net.
Evergreen had the bit between their teeth by then, but an inspired display from McCormack denied them a bigger lead.
Twice in little over ten minutes the AC defender was in the right place at the right time to save his side. First off he kicked Tommy Earls’s low volley off the line in the 62 minute, then headed Jamie Owens’s floated 73rd minute effort to safety from the back post.
Those missed chances failed to hamper Evergreen, however. Declan McQuillan made sure of their place in the semi-finals, the sub racing through to hit the net in the dying seconds of the game.
Evergreen A - Pierce Dargan, Tommy Earls, Jack Poyntz, Mathew Wong, Sammy Johnston, Niall Andrews (Oisin Corr, 74 mins), Andrew Hickey (Vinny O’Brien, 46 mins), Jamie Owens, Joe Mulcahy, David Grincell (Declan McQuillan, 64 mins), Seamie Cummins.
AC Kilkenny - Lewis Arnicar, Ian Ryan, John McCormack, David Tyrrell (Matthew Kavanagh, 48 mins), Darren Hayes, Adrian Kenny, Stephen Hayes, Warren Kavanagh, Timmy Clifford (James Geoghegan, 74 mins), David Beale, Karl Jenkins.
Referee - Ollie Falsey.
Newpark into final four
Evergreen were joined in the semi-final stage by Newpark United, who came from a goal down to get the better of Stoneyford United on Sunday morning.
Trailing to the hosts, Newpark got back on level terms thanks to an Eamon Conway strike. Both sides pushed for a winner, but just when it looked like extra-time would be needed Henry O’Neill grabbed the winner for the city side in stoppage time.
The two other Maher Shield games down for decision fell by the wayside as heavy downpours saw a number of fixtures suffer on Sunday.
The Freebooters A v Thomastown United game was first to be called off as the Fair Green was deemed unplayable. A move was made to play the game in Thomastown, but United Park was forced out of action due to heavy rainfall.
The afternoon game between Clover United and Bridge United was also washed out by the inclement weather. No date has been announced for the rescheduled games.