Waterford United 4-2 Shamrock Rovers (AET)
The Hoops were buoyant after their penalty shoot-out victory against Cork last Thursday and travelled to Waterford in top form believing they could come away with a similar result – and they nearly did.
Having spent the last couple of days working really hard and getting themselves ready for this critical semi-final tie they found themselves a goal down after just 22 seconds when Colm Whelan caught the defence off guard with a header. They then conceded a penalty after just three minutes but Jack Larkin hit his shot off the upright. Kalvin Geraghty might have saved it anyway as he went the right direction and seemed poised to catch it with his outstretched hand.
There was no keeping them out though as they piled on the pressure and got their just rewards in the 18th minute when Darryl Walsh headed home from a corner to make it 2-0.
It took Rovers a long time to get into their stride but on the balance of play Waterford were good value for their lead at half time.
Wingers Jack Kelly and Kenny Cunningham were introduced when the teams came back out for the second half and the Hoops were like terriers surging forward in search of a goal.
Before that though Geraghty had to react fast twice to deny the home side a third. Kelly was an instant thorn in the side of the Waterford lads and his persistence paid off in the 68th minute when he managed to get the ball across from a deep position for Dean Williams who met it at the far post and slotted it past Noel Heffernan in the Waterford goal. Williams didn’t wait around to celebrate; he grabbed the ball out of the net and ran to the half way line with it.
Nine minutes later though Williams and his teammates did celebrate in style though when Kelly again made it possible for the striker to grab a second. There was still fifteen minutes of normal time left; it was game on again.
Then came the most dramatic moment when Rovers could have gone ahead. Kelly yet again provided Williams with the ball, the striker was blocked by the ‘keeper and Greg Waters not once but twice and James Clarke followed in to knock it over the line but Waters again got himself in the way. That was a real let off for Waterford.
Before the end of normal time Geraghty came to the rescue twice to ensure that extra time would become necessary.
The killer blow for the Hoops came in the first period of extra time when a Hoops’ player made body contact with Whelan in the box; initially the Blues’ player stayed on his feet but went down seconds later. Whelan then made it 3-2 from the spot but the Hoops’ players were incensed.
Worse was to follow for them in the second period of extra time after the ball came off the foot of midfielder Darren Prendergast and Geraghty picked it up. An indirect free kick in the box was awarded. Initially the wall got the block on it but Walsh got onto it and blasted to the net to make it 4-2. Geraghty was adamant afterwards it wasn’t a backpass as Prendergast did not control the ball but the referee saw it differently.
Shamrock Rovers: Kalvin Gergahty, 2. Darren Prendergast, 3. Eric Abulu, 4. Andy Spain, 5. Adam O’Connor, 6. Jack Priestly, 9. Dean Williams, 14. Martins Olakanye, 15. Conor Behan, 17. Rhys Murphy, 18. Adam Murphy.
Substitutes: 7. Jack Kelly (for R. Murphy h.t.), 10. Jordan Tallon, 11. Kenny Cunningham (for A. Murphy h.t.), 19. James Clarke (for Abulu 62 mins), 20. Emmanuel Odeniyi (for Priestly 92 mins), 23. Jay Nwanze (for Behan 109 mins)
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