Bridge United 5
Fort Rangers 3
TWO SUPER goals from Sean Murphy helped Bridge United end an incredible comeback with the Under-15 Cup.
Striker Murphy struck in either half of extra-time as the boys from Goresbridge showed boundless reserves of spirit to beat Fort Rangers in Derdimus.
Things didn’t look good for United when they leaked the first goal after just 18 seconds. It got worse, as they trailed 3-1 after half an hour, but somehow they fought their way back into the game before Murphy took centre-stage.
The game turned on its head six minutes into extra-time. Picking up possession in midfield, Josh Lynham dinked a clever ball on for Murphy to control and smash past Fort ’keeper John Rice.
The goal capped a turnaround that seemed impossible after the start Bridge made. Within 18 seconds of kick-off they were a goal down, Emmet Nugent firing in a cross from left to right for Ryan Butler to steer home.
Within six minutes, they were two down. Dion Fitzpatrick and Alex Helizan did well to create space on the left from which to put the ball into the box, but defender Sean Whelan could only divert the ball into his own net.
Bridge had some chances of their own – Conor English curled a ninth minute free just outside the far post – before they got off the mark midway through the half. Awarded a free for a Fort back-pass, Murphy rolled the ball to English, who somehow found the corner of the net despite having 11 Rangers in his way.
They could, and should, have been level by the 24th minute. Breaking from a Fort attack, Cian Barcoe worked the ball on to Murphy, who sped clean through and then beat Rice with his shot – but somehow the ball flashed wide of the mark.
Bridge were left to rue that miss when disaster struck after the half hour. Emmet Nugent’s free-kick was flicked on by Helizan, but the ball took a wicked deflection off Sean Whelan and ended up in the United net.
Bridge refused to bow down, and managed to pull a goal back before half-time. Fort thought they had escaped when Murphy thundered a volley off the underside of the bar, but they couldn’t clear their lines in time. Conor English’s follow-up shot was saved by Rice, but he couldn’t prevent Cian Barcoe from knocking the loose ball home.
The revival was complete after just eight minutes of the second half. The legwork was done by Murphy, who sped down the right and then along the endline, before a neat pull-back was hammered home by the incoming James Kelly.
Neither side seemed to settle for three goals and continued to push for more. Fort went closest – Colm Phelan saw a long range shot hit the post in the 57th minute before Emmett Nugent’s rebound came back off the bar – but they couldn’t find a winner before the end of normal time.
Although Murphy’s opening goal gave Bridge the lead for the first time it was his second that really set the seal on a great day for the Goresbridge boys. With Fort giving everything in their search for an equaliser they were caught cold when Murphy launched up a 98th minute counter-attack from half-way.
Racing past the challenge of the last man, Murphy sped on until he reached the box. Facing ’keeper Rice in a one-on-one Murphy showed ice-cool nerves to cap a memorable day with a cheeky chip that dropped into the net, a fitting way to finish the day.
Bridge United: Jay White, Kieran Breen, Kevin Davitt, Josh Lynham, Sean Whelan, Dion Wall, James Kelly, Keith Flavin, Sean Murphy, Conor English, Cian Barcoe (Brian Kelly, 91 mins).
Fort Rangers: John Rice, James Tynan, Ger Dunne, Shane Comerford (Lee Dunne, 41 mins), Padraig O’Farrell, Colm Phelan, Dion Fitzpatrick, Alex Helizan, Seamus McGrath, Emmett Nugent, Ryan Butler.
Referee: Larry Buggy. Linesmen: Nicky Marnell, James Dunne.