Young guns exit cup race
Wexford Youths, having dominated the game, had defeat inflicted on them through an extra-time goal as Letterkenny Rovers were a mighty relieved side at the conclusion of 120 minutes of exciting football in this F.A.I. Youths Cup quarter-final at Ferrycarrig Park on Saturday.
Wexford Youths 0 Letterkenny Rovers 1 (AET)
While the Donegal boys confounded everyone with that extra-time goal after receiving a real battering for most of this game, the Youths' inability to put away some golden opportunities - that even included a second-half penalty being driven wide - eventually came back to haunt them.
Despite a dominance in midfield, the lack of power in front of goal when it would have taken just that extra yard to have finished off their opponents was a factor in the home side's defeat. Excellent down the wings, their crossing was fast and accurate, but the Youths were left wondering how they missed out on so many chances to have clinched a semi-final spot in normal time.
The Youths players could not believe they lost this game. Even after the concession of the goal, they continued to dominate the second period of extra-time and created two golden chances, but either delayed their shot or pulled the ball wide when it seemed easier to score.
It was the Youths' best display of the campaign despite the defeat. Their game was all about pace, possession and intelligent movement, factors which their opponents could not match. But then again, credit to the Letterkenny boys for the manner in which they stuck to their task, getting their reward with that vital extra-time goal which proved sufficient to keep them in cup contention and earn a place in the semi-final draw.
Wexford Youths were utterly dominant through the opening minutes and looked to have taken a seventh-minute lead when Darren Dempsey headed a Podge Murphy cross back across goal into the opposite corner of the net, but it was ruled out for offside which was quite a close call by the Kilkenny official.
The shot count was to reflect the home side's superiority as, five minutes later, Darren Dempsey forced a fine save of out 'keeper Jake Friel, while minutes later David Doyle once again called on the 'keeper to beat a low shot away to safety.
Letterkenny had their first real attack after 14 minutes with P.J. Varde cutting in along the edge of the area, but home 'keeper Jason Maguire proved equal to the task, getting down to save. The Youths forced two successive corner kicks as they continued to push forward, while after 30 minutes Daniel Brennan pulled his shot just outside the left post after a fine run with the 'keeper beaten.
Ten minutes before the break, Friel beat a David Doyle shot out before Luke Neilin got back to hook the ball to safety as the home attackers moved in. Approaching the break both Dempsey and Ivan Meighan had shots blocked as the home side continued to lay siege to the goal, but despite this the sides went in 0-0 at the interval.
The second-half continued in the same pattern with the Youths forcing two early corners, while at the opposite end Garrett Doherty saw a 20-metre free kick go just over the top. Wexford Youths should have taken the lead on 76 minutes when a long Nathan Murphy throw found its way across the face of the goal, but Paul Brennan from two metres somehow managed to head over the top when a simple flick would have found the net.
Ten minutes from the end the home side were handed a glorious opportunity of breaking the deadlock. Jordan Brett was tripped by substitute Igor Arriel just inside the right edge of the area, leaving referee Patrick O'Connor with no hesitation in pointing to the spot, but David Doyle pulled his penalty kick low and wide, so it was no surprise when it ended 0-0 at the end of 90 minutes.
With both sets of players beginning to look tired, Letterkenny took advantage of a dead ball situation to take the lead. Ciarán Moloney floated over a free kick that the tall Ciarán Kenny headed down into the path of Gavin McDaid who slotted a low shot to the corner of the net, giving his side a 1-0 lead. While the Youths continued to press, their wastefulness in front of goal continued, leaving them to bow out of the cup.
Wexford Youths: Jason Maguire, Conor Sutton, Nathan Murphy, Paul Brennan, Podge Murphy, Daniel Brennan, Darren Dempsey, Lee Busher, Ivan Meighan, David Doyle, Jordan Brett. Subs. - Adam Doyle, Adam Barnes, Lee Cullen, Jason Aylward, Eoin McDonald, Graham Holmes.
Letterkenny Rovers: Jake Friel, Paul Ferry, Luke Neilin, Ciarán Kelly, Jason McGee, Adrian Delap, Eoin Slevin, Ciarán Moloney, Gavin McDaid, Garrett Doherty, P.J. Varde. Subs. - Igor Arriel, Jack McKelvie, David O'Donnell, Zac Gorman, Dara O Baoil, Eoghan Kelly, Eoghan O'Boyle.
Referee: Patrick O'Connor (Kilkenny).