Spot kick thriller

Gorey Celtic edge past Duncannon

Dean Goodison

Danny Roche of Gorey Celtic is challenged by Dion Donnelly
Danny Roche of Gorey Celtic is challenged by Dion Donnelly
David Smyth of Gorey Celtic and Jack Murray (Duncannon) in action
The successful Gorey Celtic squad before Saturday's exciting win

An epic tussle, between two teams sitting side-by-side in the league, went all the way to penalties in Mullaunfin on Saturday before Gorey Celtic edged their way past Duncannon and into the second round of the Wexford and District Schoolboys Soccer Under-14 Cup.

Gorey Celtic 1 Duncannon 1 (Celtic won 7-6 on pens)

The hosts looked set to advance with a narrow win thanks to Luke Leavy's first-half goal. However, Josh Keating pounced with just six minutes remaining to send the game to extra-time and eventually penalties.

The sides were level after both converted four of their five spot-kicks, sending the tie to sudden death. Brendan Tobin, Andrew Smyth and Lee Polgaise all netted for Celtic, with Peadar O'Connor and Seán McStay replying to the first two.

Stand-in goalkeeper Colum Fitzgerald stepped up to the eighth penalty for Duncannon. It's difficult for a netminder in those circumstances, having expended energy diving around, gallantly trying to stop a string of superb spot-kicks. To change focus is near impossible and Fitzgerald was hugely unfortunate to just miss the target.

Earlier, a nervy start to the game was broken in the twelfth minute when Tobin slipped Leavy in on the left of goal. The Celtic attacker took his time, working his way into space before calmly poking a low shot past Mark Bates.

The goal settled Gorey and they played some excellent football for the remainder of the half. A scooped shot by Kevin Hyland forced Bates into a smart save, and he then narrowly volleyed over from David Smyth's floated pass.

Duncannon responded after the break and went close to a leveller when Keating forced David Neville into action.

Gorey had their spell too, with Hyland, J.J. Twamley and Brendan Tobin all going close.

However, the heavy pitch began to take its toll and Duncannon slowly grew in confidence. They found their equaliser in the 64th minute when Calum Gamble slipped Keating in on goal and the rangy attacker calmly slotted to the corner of the hosts' net.

The full-time whistle came with Duncannon on top but their energy and fight continued into extra-time. Roars for a penalty, when Peadar O'Connor went down under pressure, were waved away, while at the other end Leavy went closest with a curled effort going narrowly wide.

In the end the penalties went Gorey's way, despite a hell of an effort from Duncannon. The win for Celtic sees them into the last 16 of the cup. They will host St. Leonards in the coming weeks, hoping to book a quarter-final spot.

Gorey Celtic: David Neville; Danny Roche, Aidan Mulcahy, Luke Darley, J.J. Twamley; Kevin Hyland, Kyle Kenny, David Smyth, Brendan Tobin; Luke Leavy, Lee Polgaise. Subs. - Andrew Smyth for Polgaise (36), Calum Lee for Darley (45), Polgaise for Lee (74), also Finn Mulcahy, Noah Maher.

Duncannon: Mark Bates; James Nolan, Mark Whitty, Colum Fitzgerald, Jack Moore; Dion Donnelly, Jack Murray, Calum Gamble, Seán McStay, Alfie Eite; Josh Keating. Subs. - Peadar O'Connor for Murray (12), Murray for O'Connor (18), O'Connor for Eite (44), Eite for Gamble, inj. (89).

Referee: Micheál Franklin.

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