THE FAI Junior Cup brought thrills, spills and heartbreak for a number of local teams at the weekend - not least Fort Rangers.
The Wallslough side had a belter of game against Bunclody on Sunday morning, but were still unlucky to come out on the wrong end of a 10-goal thriller.
Rangers proved to be more than gracious hosts, as they allowed Bunclody to take a three-goal lead in the opening 45 minutes. Whatever was said at the break clearly worked as a fired-up Fort made the perfect start to the second half through Emmet Nugent’s quick strike after the restart.
Bunclody looked to have their place in the next round all but secure when they restored their three-goal lead to move 4-1 in front with half an hour to play, but they didn’t reckon on the fighting spirit of Jim Cashin’s side. Rangers, who showed their battling qualities when they came from 4-1 down to rescue a Premier Division point in the 4-4 tussle with Bridge United recently, bounced back into the game when Jim Nugent made it 4-2 with 25 minutes to play.
After that it was the turn of Nugent’s sons to take charge of the scoring. Emmet grabbed his second of the game to leave Bunclody anxiously waiting for the final whistle. It duly arrived, but not before Emmet’s older brother Eddie struck to send the tie into extra-time.
Both sides failed to make an impression in the opening period of extra-time, but Bunclody took a big step towards the third round when they went back in front through a long range strike after the 100-minute mark. Fort pressed hard for another way back into the game, piling players forward in an effort to send the tie to penalties, but a last gasp counter-attack goal saw the visitors take the spoils in a high-scoring thriller.
There was better luck for three of Fort’s Premier Division colleagues as they advanced to the next round. In the only all-Kilkenny battle of the round two goals from David Grincell helped Evergreen get past Southend United in Ballyhale, while the Lions were away winners in Wexford as they saw off New Ross Town 2-1.
Freebooters also put their name in the hat for the next round draw, but only after being pushed all the way by Coill Dubh.
A Greg Morton header gave the Blues the lead, but the visitors worked hard to haul the Fair Green club back.
While neither side could find a winner in normal time, Freebooters were far more clinical in extra-time. Another goal from the head of Morton restored their advantage, while Dessie Hayes also helped himself to a brace as ‘Booters went through on a 4-1 scoreline.
Two more Kilkenny teams booked their place in the third round with relative ease - they went through without kicking a ball!
Newpark United advanced after Wexford’s Killenagh Wanderers conceded the tie.
Newpark’s fellow Division One side Stoneyford United also moved on to round three in the same fashion, earning a walkover after Arklow Town failed to travel for their game.
Things weren’t as good for another two other local teams, as both saw their interests in the competition end for another year.
Highview Athletic were the only Kilkenny side drawn in round one, but they couldn’t match their away win over Stretford United as they crashed out when Moyne Rovers scored a 2-0 win.
Bridge United also went by the wayside, losing 2-1 to Woodstock Celtic in Goresbridge.
There was better fortune for Kilkenny’s sole representative in the Leinster Junior Shield. Orchard Rovers kept the League’s flag proudly flying high as they travelled to Dublin and beat Castlemill United 2-0 in the province’s secondary competition.