Gallant North End fall short against Sheriff
North End pushed favourites Sheriff Y.C. all the way at Clontarf on Sunday before bowing out of the F.A.I. Junior Cup at the sixth round stage.
Sheriff YC 2 North End United 0
Two-time champions Sheriff found it difficult to break down John Godkin's side, and even after North End went a goal and a man down after 63 minutes they continued to trouble the Dublin outfit.
The Wexford champions lost out to eventual winners Liffey Wanderers at the semi-final stage last season and again showed they are match for anyone by putting last year's beaten finalists Sheriff on the back foot for most of the second-half, before being caught on the break late on.
The home side did enjoy plenty of possession in the first-half and Mark Higgins went close on 17 minutes when he sent a header narrowly wide, before Stewart Glen headed a Darren Dunne free-kick wide of the target.
North End looked a threat on the break without creating many clearcut chances and Sheriff again went in search of the opening goal when Darren Dunne fired over the bar.
After soaking up the pressure North End went agonisingly close to breaking the deadlock on 38 minutes when Paul Murphy ran on to Lee Walker's long kick-out and got a good connection on the ball with his head, but goalkeeper Lee Murphy superbly tipped the ball around the post.
Sheriff continued to press after the interval and again went close when John Lester glanced a header narrowly wide of the target from a Kevin Lynch free-kick.
However, Sheriff got the break they needed on 63 minutes when a foul from Keith Kearney led to a penalty and a second yellow card for the North End man.
John Lester finished confidently from the spot, sending Walker the wrong way, and it was an uphill task for the Wexford outfit.
To their credit, North End, after switching to three at the back, bossed most of the remainder of the game and came close to equalising after 75 minutes when Shane Dempsey's curling effort from the edge of the box shaved the outside of the post.
The lively Paul Murphy almost made the breakthrough moments later, but his effort was well saved by netminder Lee Murphy.
North End threw everything at Sheriff for the final minutes of the game and they were caught on the break in the second minute of injury time when Thomas Dunne found the net to copper-fasten Sheriff's place in the last 16 of the competition.
Ferns United are still flying the flag for the Wexford League in the F.A.I. Junior Cup, and they take on Carrigaline in the sixth round next Sunday.
Sheriff Y.C.: Lee Murphy, Paul Murphy, Kevin Lynch, Anthony Kavanagh, Joseph Flood, John Lester, Darren O'Brien, Darren Dunne, Stewart Glen, Jonathan Rock, Mark Higgins. Subs. - Thomas Dunne, Jeffrey Flood, Daniel Joyce, Gavin McDermott, David Browne, Joe O'Neill, Alan McCabe.
North End United: Lee Walker, Robin Dempsey, Keith Kearney, Gareth McCurtin, Stuart Lawlor, Lee Wadding, Ethan Boyle, Shane Dempsey, Kyle Dempsey, Paul Murphy, Warren Broaders. Subs. - Jason Murphy, Adam Beary, John Fenlon, Paul Rossiter, Lee Smith, Aaron Deegan.
Referee: Joe O'Hanlon.