DOING a little pre-match homework paid off as Eoin Wall played his part in Callan’s memorable McCalmont Cup victory.
The Callan captain and goalkeeper took the chance to check out Newpark United when they played AC Kilkenny in the Division One Cup final a week earlier. That game also went to penalties, giving Wall a chance to see Newpark’s form in spot-kicks.
“I came in last week to watch Newpark play AC Kilkenny in the Division One Cup final last week,” he said in cinversation with Trevor Spillane after Sunday’s epic win in Derdimus. “I just had it in my head which way to go for the penalties and it worked out for me. I went the right way twice - that was the main thing.”
As if that wasn’t pressure enough, Wall went from saving penalties to scoring them as he netted the winner in the dramatic shootout.
“I was the designated taker for the fourth kick, but I knew that if I scored it would be over,” he said. “I just turned and ran, picked my corner and watched the ball go in.”
The scenes of celebration that erupted among the team and supporters as Wall wheeled away following his penalty showed how much Callan had craved that sweet win.
“It was unreal - it’s great not just for the club but the town,” the goalkeeper said, smiling after the final whistle. “It’s really hard to put into words how much winning the Cup means to us. My heart goes out to Newpark - it was a hard way to lose a final, especially as they had been beaten on penalties in the Division One Cup final last week. Losing two finals in eight days was heart-breaking for them.”
As with every competition there has to be winners and losers, but Wall was glad that it was Callan’s day.
“It was our day alright,” he said. “Every player in that dressing-room believed that we could win. We said we weren’t going home without the Cup. We proved that determination to be right.”
Given their route to the final - they beat Evergreen A, Freebooters A and Lions A - Callan were the tip of many to lift the title. Their name may have been on the cup, but the players didn’t buy into that.
Down to luck
“We didn’t think like that - we never took it for granted that we’d win,” said Wall. “The Evergreen A match was a good one. We beat them on penalties, but like the final it’s down to luck when a game goes that far. You pick a corner and go - it can be saved, missed or scored. That’s the way it goes.”
On a day where both goalkeepers shone, Wall made a save late on to rescue his side. He relived the moment, but also deflected praise to his opposite number.
“I got down low to make the save - it was just a reaction,” he said. “Bobby made some good saves too. He’s a good goalkeeper too - I know from playing against him that he is a great keeper, one I have total respect for.”
And to cap an incredible day, Wall scooped the Man of the Match honours. Again, he preferred to heap the plaudits on to others.
“I wouldn’t have won that without the team,” he said. “That award isn’t just mine - that goes to all my team-mates.”