Freshford Town’s FAI Junior Cup adventure ended when they fell to reigning champions Sheriff YC, but there was an air of controversy about the result.
Town may have been underdogs in Sunday’s game in Clontarf, but manager James Farrell felt the afternoon hinged on a penalty awarded to the hosts early in the second half.
“The game was in the melting pot, but I felt Sheriff were baled out when they got that penalty,” he said. “It ripped the heart out of our side.”
Sheriff took the lead inside 10 minutes when Darren Dunne’s 25 yard shot zipped off the slick all-weather surface and flew into the bottom left corner of Seamus Hayes’s net. However, Freshford tore up the script when they drew level on the half hour, Nigel Stanley pouncing after netminder Austin O’Neill failed to gather Paul Guinan’s free.
Freshford then stunned Sheriff when they took the lead with 33 minutes on the clock. Once again Stanley was the man of the moment, getting a bullet-like header to a teasing Guinan corner.
The Town were full value for the lead but couldn’t hold it until half-time, conceding an injury-time goal to John Rock.
If that was hard for Freshford to take, the penalty was a hammer blow. The new half was just 30 seconds old when Sheriff were awarded a penalty for a foul on Alan McCabe. Rock made no mistake from 12 yards, giving Sheriff a lead they would not lose.
That’s not to say that Freshford didn’t have chances to force their way back into an absorbing game. Graham O’Flaherty had an opportunity to make it 3-3 when he picked up a loose ball after Eoin Vaughan’s 60th minute shot was forced back into his path, but the Freshford captain blazed over with the goal at his mercy.
Sheriff paid heed to that warning, and shut the door on Freshford with a late goal surge. Kevin Lynch made it 4-2 with a volley, before Rock completed his hat-trick with 15 minutes to go. The scorer turned provider for the last goal, setting up Michael Pickett to seal a 6-2 six minutes from time and send his side into the seventh round.
Freshford will get the chance to work out their frustrations when they take on CK United in the Leinster Junior Cup this weekend.
“The lads are very disappointed at the minute,” said Farrell, “but we’ll be up for this game on Sunday.”
At local level Deen Celtic began 2014 in the right fashion when they beat Newpark B 2-1 in Division One.
Played in tough conditions, the Castlecomer side went one up when John Doheny got his head to a dangerous David Lynch free-kick. The game got even better for the visitors, who doubled their advantage after the restart when Jonny Dowling blasted home a free from just outside the box.
Although Newpark pulled a goal back it wasn’t enough to deny Deen all three points, a good result ahead of their Leinster Junior Cup tie with Real Transylvania on Sunday.
Southend United took advantage of Newpark’s slip to move two points clear of the city side in third place, but they were denied a win as Geoffrey Brennan rescued a point for Freebooters B.
The Blues ahead thanks to goals from Shane Kelly and Eamon Byrne, but a Padraig Gahan brace brought Southend right back into the reckoning. United then went in front with an Alan Cuddihy goal, but their victory hopes were dashed by Brennan’s late reply.
The point wasn’t enough to move ’Booters off the bottom of the table, but they are still on level pegging with Stoneyford United, who went down 2-1 away to Clover United.