Sunday 21 January 2018

Darren's double fires Kilmore into the final

Dean Goodison

David Millar, Kilmore United and Timothy Bolgerof Bunclody battle for the ball
David Millar, Kilmore United and Timothy Bolgerof Bunclody battle for the ball
Bunclody's John Breen and Kilmore match winner Darren Naughton

A brace from midfield maestro Darren Naughton propelled Kilmore United into the Wexford Cup final at the expense of Bunclody in the Ajax Athletic grounds in Enniscorthy on Sunday morning.

Kilmore United 2 Bunclody 0

The combative centre-fielder scored a cracking volley in the first-half and sealed victory ten minutes from time with a composed finish from the edge of the box to book Kilmore's spot opposite North End United in the decider.

Division 1 champions Bunclody gave it a real go, particularly in the second-half when they laid siege to the Kilmore goal for a good 20 minutes.

However, their goal never came as the victors' defence put in the performance of their lives to keep a clean sheet.

Aaron Goff was first to sting Gary McClean's hands with a powerful free-kick from the right side of the penalty area.

Kilmore went close again when Gary Murphy's long free fell to Graham Healy in the box but he volleyed over.

Having had the better of the opening exchanges, it came as no surprise when Kilmore took the lead. The goal came from a Peter Goldsmith cross from the right that was headed away, but only as far as Naughton on the edge of the box and he volleyed into the top right corner.

Kevin Keating made a smart reaction save from Shane Franklin as Bunclody settled, but they nearly found themselves two behind when Naughton smashed Goldsmith's right wing throw-in, from fully 30 yards, onto the crossbar with McClean beaten.

Bunclody had a few half-chances but couldn't create the type of clearcut openings that came at the other end.

In the 35th minute Aaron Goff somehow missed out on a telling touch three yards out when David Millar squared across the goalmouth, with his scuffed effort saved by a relieved McClean.

One up at half-time, Kilmore continued to create into the early stages of the second-half. Daithí Moore played a superb one-two with Goff on the left before crashing a shot off the foot of the post. Yet slowly Bunclody grew in confidence and began to dominate.

Timmy Bolger screwed a shot wide, James Dunne saw an effort deflected behind, and P.J. Mulhall had a goal disallowed for handball as Bunclody pressed.

Set-pieces flooded into the box but with Keating in tip-top form and the defence impenetrable, Kilmore hung on.

Then they scored the clincher. With ten minutes left Millar got away on the right and crossed. Killian Dove couldn't get there in time but when the ball was scrambled to the edge of the box Naughton was in the right place to fire low to the net and clinch Kilmore's place in the final.

Kilmore United: Kevin Keating; Peter Goldsmith, Gary Murphy (capt.), Jason Malone, Willie Murphy; Darren Naughton, Seán Hogan; Graham Healy, Aaron Goff, Daithí Moore; David Millar. Subs. - Killian Dove for Hogan (74), Luke Jordan for Millar (90+2), also Colm Benson, James Lowry.

Bunclody: Gary McClean; Eoin Dunbar, Timmy Bolger (capt.), John Savage, Glen Pullen; James Dunne, John Breen, Steven Ryan, Dwaine Smith; Shane Franklin, Johnny Melay. Subs. - P.J. Mulhall for Melay (52), Timmy Halpin for Smith (52), John Thorpe for Franklin (82), also Paul Nolan, David Halpin, John Ryan.

Referee: Kieran Dunne.

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