North End bow out
North End let a second-half lead slip as hosts Thomastown dumped the Belvedere boys out of the Leinster Senior Cup on a heavy pitch on Sunday.
Thomastown United 3 North End United 1
John Godkin's men took the lead two minutes after half-time when Paul Murphy found the net from close range, but three goals in eleven minutes at the other end ensured the Kilkenny side's progress.
It was a disappointing day for the Wexford champions. They started the game a little light with Decky Downes, Jason Murphy and Robin Dempsey all missing, and it took them a long time to get going without the trio.
Their best spell came either side of half-time, and when the opening goal arrived it was certainly no more than the Sky Blues deserved.
However, all afternoon Thomastown looked dangerous with long, quick balls into the North End half.
The hosts' goalkeeper, Paul Dunne, was vulnerable in some instances when called upon but his thumping long balls proved difficult for the North End defence to deal with all afternoon. The warning signs were there early on as he found David Pender on the edge of the area. The Thomastown attacker flicked into the path of partner Stephen Connolly who curled an effort just wide with the visitors' defence at sixes and sevens.
Andy Kavanagh's scooped effort was tipped onto the bar by Lee Walker shortly after, while the Thomastown captain also flashed over a Connolly knockdown from Mick O'Neill's corner as North End struggled against a buzzing home club.
Slowly the pattern of the game changed and in the 38th minute Andy Moore almost set Murphy away, only for Dunne to foil the former Waterford striker at his feet. Twice the unsure hands of the home 'keeper pushed Murphy shots onto the woodwork as the half ran down.
It was therefore no surprise when, starting the half as they finished, North End took the lead in the 47th minute. Moore and the excellent Ethan Boyle combined on the right, with the latter's cross controlled and fired to the net by hot-shot Murphy.
However, the lead lasted just five minutes as Connolly ghosted in untouched to head home Mick O'Neill's free-kick from the left.
Things got worse again in the 57th minute when a long Kevin O'Neill punt was controlled by Kavanagh and squared to Pender to make it 2-1.
North End were placed into a huge hole with 27 minutes remaining when Connolly fed Kavanagh whose shot was saved by Walker, but the ball flew straight to Mick O'Neill and he could hardly miss an open goal from ten yards out.
The final quarter was all North End as they pushed to get back in the game. Their afternoon was summed up when an almighty scramble in the box resulted in shots by Kyle Dempsey (twice) and Moore being scrambled off the line.
With half chances being snuffed out, former Wexford Youths cult hero C.J. Browne came on in defence for the hosts. He could only watch as Boyle hit the crossbar in the final minute to round out a day to forget for the visitors.
Thomastown United: Paul Dunne; Eoin Manning, Kevin O'Neill, Nathan Sherry, Paul Dempsey; David Kavanagh, Andy Kavanagh (capt.), Dessie Walsh, Mick O'Neill; Stephen Connolly, David Pender. Subs. - Marty Lawrence for Pender (72), C.J. Browne for Manning, inj. (84), also Stevie Browne, Zak Sherman, Stephen Wymes.
North End United: Lee Walker; Warren Broaders, Paul Rossiter, Lee Wadding-Byrne, Keith Kearney; Kyle Dempsey, Shane Dempsey, John Fenlon, Ethan Boyle; Andy Moore, Paul Murphy (capt.). Subs. - Lee Smith for Moore (75), John Tormey for Rossiter (83), also Jason Murphy, Aaron Deegan.
Referee: Jim Wynne.