O'Dowda makes Sky Blues pay penalty
Soccer, Wexford Cup Semi-final: Wexford Bohs 0 North End United 0 - aet, Bohs won 4-3 on pens
Wexford Bohs defied all the odds to shock firm favourites North End United in an absorbing Creane and Creane Wexford Cup semi-final in Ferrycarrig Park on Sunday.
Most would have given them little hope of upsetting their more decorated Wexford town rivals with all things being equal, but when they were reduced to ten men in the 77th minute it looked like they had a mountain to climb.
However, Bohs were a cliché lover's dream, as they rolled up their sleeves, dug deep, put their bodies on the line and rode their luck at times to grind out a magnificent result.
Goalkeeper Colm O'Dowda will deservedly take the plaudits for his two penalties saves, but this was a real team effort, and to a man they deserve immense credit for their application.
As is often the case with local derbies, the contest wasn't devoid of controversy, with North End believing they were denied two perfectly good goals, firstly when Paul Murphy headed to the net in second-half injury time, only for a free out to be awarded, and then just before the end of the first period of extra-time, when the Sky Blues contingent were adamant that Jason Murphy's header had crossed the line.
Nothing should take away from the Bohs' victory though, as they restricted a talented North End outfit to very few chances and they put in a mammoth effort all over the field.
The game took a while to warm up and there was little of note until the 20th minute, when Shane Dempsey's long-range swerving daisycutter came back off the left-hand post.
Bohs then had their first sight of goal just before the half hour mark, as a Todd Hynes free-kick deflected off the wall and out for a corner.
North End began to get more of a grip on the game as the half wore on, but found it hard to carve open a well-drilled Bohs rearguard and most of their attacking threat came from set-pieces, with Adam Beary and Paul 'Spot' Murphy both getting on the end of Shane Dempsey corners, but firing off target.
They did manage to put together a flowing move shortly before the interval, with 'Spot' picking out his brother Jason Murphy with a peach of a pass, but when the latter teed up Adam Beary he fluffed his lines.
North End would have been determined to stamp their authority on the contest as quickly as possible after the change of ends, and they almost did just that, when Warren Broaders played a pinpoint pass to Jason Murphy, but he was crowded out by a gritty Bohs defence, while moments later Beary fired a shot wide.
Wexford Bohs weathered the mini storm though and threatened twice in the space of a minute midway through the half, when Jack Murphy headed down to Seán Pailing, who blazed over, while Craig Kelly's ambitious effort flew off target.
However, it looked like a squall could turn into a raging tempest when David Lyttleton was given his marching orders after picking up a second yellow card in the 77th minute.
North End smelled blood and pushed forward in droves and after Lee Wadding saw a shot blocked and Jason Murphy skewed an effort wide, they forced a decent save out of O'Dowda in the 89th minute, when 'Spot' Murphy cushioned a header into the path of Paul Murphy (Kilmore) and the goalkeeper got down well to thwart the substitute.
They then had the ball in the net in the second minute of injury time, when Paul 'Spot' Murphy stooped to head a Paul 'Patsy' Malone cross home, but referee Seamus Kelly blew for an infringement.
It was backs-to-the-wall stuff for Bohs in extra-time, and North End were again feeling hard done by just before the end of the first period, when Jason Murphy got a decent connection on a corner from his brother Paul.
O'Dowda got down well to make the block, but North End argued that the ball had crossed the whitewash.
Bohs continued to defend as if their lives depended on it in the second-half of extra-time, and apart from a late effort from substitute Niall Connolly which warmed the gloves of the netminder, they comfortably held firm.
O'Dowda then played a match-winning part in the penalty shoot-out, saving spot-kicks from Craig McCabe and Jason Murphy to send his side into the final, while Todd Hynes, Jack Murphy, Dermot Flood and Graham Healy were all successful from 12 yards for the winners.
Nothing is won yet though and their immense efforts will count for nothing if they fail to beat either Rosslare Rangers or Bridge Rovers in the final.
Wexford Bohs: Colm O'Dowda, Dion Murphy, David Lyttleton, Aaron Goodison, Todd Hynes, Martin O'Connor, Craig Kelly, Jack Murphy, Dermot Flood, Andy Moore, Seán Pailing. Subs. - Aaron Lambert for Moore, inj. (23), Sam O'Neill for Kelly (91), Aaron Donovan for Pailing (100), Graham Healy for Lambert (103).
North End United: Lee Walker, Craig McCabe, Gary Delaney, Robin Dempsey, Lee Wadding, Warren Broaders, Alan Rhodes, Shane Dempsey, Dale Flynn, Paul 'Spot' Murphy, Adam Beary. Subs. - Jason Murphy for Flynn, inj. (38), Paul Murphy (Kilmore) for S. Dempsey (68), Paul 'Patsy' Malone for Delaney, inj. (78), Niall Connolly for Beary (101), Kyle Dempsey for Wadding (110+1).
Referee: Seamus Kelly.