Freebooters A 2
Thomastown United 0
DAMIEN Raggett led the charge as Freebooters A booked their place in the semi-finals of the Maher Shield.
A goal in each half from the dangerous striker did the trick, but the city side had to work hard to see off a confident Thomastown United at the Fair Green.
Leading 1-0 going into the second half, Raggett’s second goal – the all-important insurance strike – helped warm the crowd on a cold Sunday morning.
In the best move of the day Freebooters made light of a sticky pitch, slicing Thomastown open with a move on 53 minutes that flowed from defence into attack.
Sparked by goalkeeper Donal Brennan’s quick ball out from goal, Michael Comerford played it back to Ger Hayes. The full-back dashed down the line at full speed, keeping the move going between Jack Deegan and Greg Morton, before delivering a deep cross for the unmarked Raggett to nod home.
’Booters had been just as quick from kick-off, almost taking the lead inside the opening 90 seconds. Raggett did well to take down a long Michael Comerford pass and cut inside defender Robbie Kavanagh, but he scuffed his shot when left with just the keeper to beat.
The duo combined again on ten minutes, but this time they got the right result. Raggett’s first touch killed Comerford’s booming ball stone dead. His second, a clever right foot flick into the bottom right corner, gave goalkeeper Nathan Sherry no chance.
Freebooters continued to control the game in the middle third after that, but couldn’t build on their lead. Aaron Molloy, a sub for the injured Anthony Hanney, came closest when he made room to shoot in front of goal, but Sherry did well to push his 30th minute effort out for a corner.
Thomastown took time to show their attacking threat, but two chances in a matter of minutes proved they could pose a real danger. Veteran midfielder Derek Lanigan had the first, ending a good team move with a shot that curled wide of the far post after 36 minutes.
Davy Prendergast went closer still, volleying a half-cleared ball on target five minutes before the break but his shot curled just wide of the top left corner of Donal Brennan’s goal.
United were increasingly fighting their way into the game and almost had an equaliser before half-time. Marty Lawrence did well to squeeze through a gap at the back and slide the ball out to Andy Kavanagh, but his diagonal shot crashed into the side netting.
It looked as if Thomastown’s hopes had taken a turn for the worse once Freebooters grabbed their second goal, but they continued to raise their game.
With the hosts going to five across midfield United started to pour forward, continuing to search for ways back into the game.
The final 20 minutes saw the visitors lay siege to Freebooters’ goal, but they couldn’t make the breakthrough. Derek Lanigan found a gap to play Dessie Walsh through, but his lay-off was hammered into the side netting by Davy Prendergast.
Walsh was next to have a go, almost pulling a goal back when he broke into the box on 74 minutes, but Paul O’Brien made a great last-ditch tackle to nick the ball away as Walsh was poised to pull the trigger.
The resulting corner saw Walsh go close again, this time with a back post header, but Donal Brennan made a super save to push the ball away from inside his right hand post.
It was a save good enough to win a game. Crucially, it broke Thomastown’s resolve.
Freebooters A: Donal Brennan, Ger Hayes, Anthony Hanney (Aaron Molloy, 17 mins; Eoin Kavanagh for Molloy, 90 mins), Michael Falsey, Derek Brennan, Jack Deegan (Eddie Clifford, 59 mins), Neil Murtagh, Michael Comerford, Greg Morton, Damien Raggett, Paul O’Brien.
Thomastown United: Nathan Sherry, Kevin O’Neill, Paul Dempsey (Joey Murray, 67 mins), Davy Wemyss, Robbie Kavanagh, Eamon Lyster, Andy Kavanagh, Derek Lanigan, Marty Lawrence (Stephen Connolly, 55 mins), Dessie Walsh, Davy Prendergast.
Referee: Tom Walsh.