Shootout agony for Fort as ’Booters march on

Freebooters A 1

Freebooters A 1

Fort Rangers 1

(AET - ’Booters won 4-3 on pens)

FREEBOOTERS kept their hands on the McCalmont Cup, but needed spot kicks to ensure they went into the draw for round two.

An enthralling 110 minutes of football where both teams couldn’t be separated, saw penalties required to decide the destination of the outcome between the Cup holders and Fort Rangers at the Fair Green.

A 10.30am kick-off where the clocks had just gone forward meant an even earlier start, but did little to dampen a thrilling contest full of entertainment and whole-hearted commitment.

Fort Rangers, who began brightly, should have been ahead when the first real chance arrived on 12 minutes. Tony Moran played a clever ball forward into the path of Johnny Brett who raced through unmarked, but he wasted a golden chance as he shot wide of goal.

However, he made amends in the 18th minute. Brett raced into the penalty area, and he was clipped from behind. Penalty kick.

Brett stepped up to the kick and, despite goalkeeper Graham Doyle guessing correctly, tucked his penalty low into the bottom right-hand corner.

Superb defending

However, Fort Rangers created little in the way of chances after that. They operated with a more defensive manner afterwards, although they defended superbly with Jim Nugent and the immaculate Dermot Ryan dominant in the two centre-half positions.

It took ’Booters some time to get back into their rhythm, but they should have levelled in the 27th minute as they created three chances in the one phase of play.

An inswinging corner saw Michael Falsey’s header blocked on the goal-line, before goalkeeper Davy Buggy kept out the follow-up rebound. It was third time unlucky for ’Booters as Dessie Hayes had his shot blocked by more heroic defending.

Davy Buggy, who was the game’s outstanding performer, pulled off a brilliant one-handed save in the 32nd minute to deny Dessie Hayes.

However, ’Booters dominated the second quarter, and it was no surprise they were rewarded aided by a slice of good fortune in the 41st minute.

Damien Raggett’s attempted ball into the penalty took two bounces off Fort Rangers players before finding its way through to Dessie Hayes. Unmarked in front of goal, Hayes slotted home the equaliser with ease.

The second half continued in the same pattern as Booters dominated possession, and Fort Rangers attempt to withstand the opposition onslaught.

In the 78th minute, Paul O’Brien’s cross from the left-wing fell to William Flood, but his shot was brilliantly stopped by Buggy.

Fort Rangers twice produced further heroics in the final ten minutes. Firstly, Dermot Ryan made a brilliant block to deny Damien Raggett, while Buggy produced another wonderful save from a Derek Brennan.

Despite been redundant during the second-half in an attacking sense, Fort Rangers had a possible chance of glory in the 92nd minute. Substitute Conor Bergin raced forward clear on space towards the penalty area, but he lost control of his footing at the vital moment.

’Booters continued to dominate throughout the 20 minutes of extra-time. Greg Morton and William Flood had the best chances, but the Fort defence remained resolute as they kept putting men behind the ball to deny ’Booters glory.

And so to the lottery of spot-kicks.

John Hayes went first for ’Booters and obliged, before youngster Emmet Nugent - introduced in the last minute of extra-time - equalised, showing nerves of steel to send Graham Doyle the wrong way.

James Kelly made it 2-1 ’Booters before Jim Nugent was off-target, shooting wide of the target.

Greg Morton and Conor Bergin – aided by a Graham Doyle deflection – exchanged spot-kicks, before Dessie Hayes calmly struck low to the bottom left-hand corner.

That meant that Padraig Forristal had to score to keep their Cup hopes alive, but his attempt was easily saved by Graham Doyle, allowing ’Booters to march on.

Freebooters A: Graham Doyle, Ger Hayes (Eddie Clifford, 92 mins), Michael Falsey, Derek Brennan, James Kelly, Greg Morton, Eamonn Lester, John Hayes, Paul O’Brien, Dessie Hayes, Damien Raggett (William Flood, 52 mins).

Fort Rangers: Davy Buggy, John Cahill, Dermot Ryan, Jim Nugent, John Comerford, Padraig Forristal, Davy Forristal, Tony Moran, Liam Forristal (Emmet Nugent, 110 mins), Kenny Morris (Johnny Bambrick, 80 mins), Johnny Brett (Conor Bergin, 73 mins).

Referee - Ollie Falsey.

Mixed day for Deen

THE McCalmont Cup brought mixed fortunes for clubs across the Kilkenny & District League - not least Deen Celtic.

The Castlecomer club had two teams in action on Sunday morning, but only one went through to the second round.

The A team travelled to Graignamanagh to take on Highview Athletic A. The hosts, who had seen off last year’s beaten finalists in the preliminary round, proved a tough nut to crack. Locked at 2-2 after 90 minutes, Celtic needed penalties to emerge 4-3 winners after extra-time failed to find a winner.

The club’s B team weren’t as fortunate. Pitted against 2009 winners Evergreen A they went down 6-1 at the Kells Road. Chris Whearty (2), Mark and Michael Cashin, Jamie Owens and Mark Andrews grabbed the goals for the hosts, with Andrew Carron getting the sole reply for Celtic.

Elsewhere in the competition a single Martin Clancy goal was enough to help the Lions A team see off Urlingford. St Pat’s Boys travelled to Johnstown and scored a 3-0 win over the new Division Two champions Spa United, while Clover United’s A team grabbed a Premier Division scalp when they beat Southend United 3-0 in Rathdowney.