Hosts have an edge
Ross Celtic best in late blitz of goals
A final quarter goal-blitz was won by hosts New Ross Celtic as they edged past a gallant, and somewhat unfortunate, Shamrock Rovers and into the last 16 of the Wexford and District Schoolboys Soccer Under-12 Cup.
New Ross Celtic 5 Shamrock Rovers 3
In truth, the game until the 47th minute was a tight affair with the Enniscorthy Town club more than a little unlucky to find themselves 1-0 down after creating most of the clearcut chances.
Leaders in Division 1A, Celtic were strong favourites coming into the tie. Rovers have had a decent season in Division 2 but find themselves fourth, a little adrift of league leaders Glynn Barntown heading into the final weeks of the season.
So it was something of a surprise when the visitors flew out of the blocks and created the first two big chances in the opening eleven minutes. The first came when the impressive Jay Hogan send Toby Odunlumi away.
The winger's shot was saved only as far as Hogan but he blasted the rebound wide. A brilliant piece of goalkeeping by Patrick O'Connor, diving low to his left to tip onto the post, prevented Hogan making it 1-0 six minutes later when Ben Keeley sent him into the clear.
Undoubtedly a little shaken by the start of their opponents, it was against the run of play when New Ross took the lead in the 15th minute. It was a brilliant finish too, with Cathal Sheehan drilling home Finn Kelly's right wing cross from the tightest of angles on the left of goal.
The rest of the first-half was fairly uneventful, with Rovers going closest when Kian Dwyer forced O'Connor into another sharp save with a snapshot from the right-hand side of the penalty area.
While Celtic started the second period on the front foot, things started to change as the half wore on. Both Keeley and Hogan had gone close so it was no surprise when the latter raced onto a through ball and calmly slotted Shamrock Rovers level in the 47th minute.
What was a surprise was what happened next - that Hogan goal was the first of seven in a crazy ten-minute spell. Showing great heart, and no lack of confidence, Celtic responded with a quick-fire double.
Conor Power got the first with a composed low finish from Finn Kelly's pass, and then Sheehan drilled home his second after great work in the build-up by Ryan Murphy and Power. Within minutes Rovers responded when Tobi Odunlami smashed home to make it 3-2.
The next New Ross attack ended with Power firing to the net for 4-2, but again the visitors refused to give in and Robert Cahill made it a one-goal game with a sublime finish with three minutes left.
Rovers didn't even get to have a good crack at a leveller, with Sheehan completing his treble with a tidy finish within seconds of the re-start to send New Ross into the last 16 opposite Curracloe.
New Ross Celtic: Patrick O'Connor; Jamie Hudson, Freddie O'Neill, Ryan Murphy; Cian Kielthy; Finn Kelly, Lee O'Neill (capt.), Cathal Sheehan; Conor Power. Subs. (rolling) - Keenan Stacey, Dylan Lennon, James Cummins.
Shamrock Rovers: Conor Owens; Adam Redmond, Taylor Cowman, Ben Keeley; Leon Giltrap, Cian O'Connor (capt.), Robert Cahill, Toby Odunlami; Jay Hogan. Subs. (rolling) - Evan Corrigan, Kian Dwyer, Paddy Roberts.
Referee: Anthony Tobin.