Kilmore United 2 Gorey Rangers 3 (AET)
Superb-sub Dylan Leonard popped up with an extra-time winner as Gorey Rangers avoided the potential banana skin of in-form hosts Kilmore United in the Wexford and District Schoolboys Soccer Under-15 Cup on Saturday.
The game was heading for spot-kicks until the diminutive Leonard beautifully controlled Ryan Finn's ball around the corner, darted away from the last defender and poked a composed finish past Alan Hayes.
It was a little harsh on a gallant Kilmore side. They came into the game brimming in confidence, sitting six points clear at the top of the Division 2A table, and must have believed they would have every chance of causing an upset.
The hosts' belief showed in the opening half as they fought hard and twice took the lead.
They defended superbly as a team and were hard but fair in the tackle. However, in the end the class of their Gorey opponents showed.
The visitors knew they were in for a battle. The heavy pitch probably impacted on their ability to hit top form and their passing wasn't as crisp as they would have wanted it to be.
However, they showed great heart to battle away and snag the win in the end.
Rangers probed in the early stages with Ayman Allain, Kyle Kenny, Ryan Boland and Jack Gleeson all trying their luck without unduly troubling Alan Hayes. Despite the probing, there was little to suggest what was about to unfold in a crazy three-minute spell early in the second quarter.
Kilmore's opener in the 19th minute had a little to do with luck but a lot to do with a great finish. A long ball into the Rangers box broke off Danny Roche and into the path of Ryan Carroll who took his time and shot low across goal, into the bottom corner.
Barely a minute later Gorey equalised. Ryan Finn forced the ball to the back post, Jack Gleeson controlled and fired across goal, and his shot was deflected past Aaron Busher to make it 1-1.
Kilmore could have folded after the disappointment of losing their lead, but instead they went down to the other end and the superb Jude Bates was tripped in the area for a penalty. Danny Roche stepped up and converted, sending Hayes the wrong way.
The lead lasted until Ben Fitzpatrick volleyed Tom Wheatley's cross to the net in the 42nd minute. Both sides had chances to win it in normal time, as Bates rattled the woodwork for Kilmore while Aaron Busher made a fine save to deny Jack Gleeson.
In the end it was Gorey who dominated extra-time and they probably deserved their lead when Leonard poked them home.
Kilmore almost forced penalties when Roche ghosted in at the back post in the final minute, but Hayes made the save that saw Gorey Rangers into the last eight.
Gorey Rangers: Alan Hayes; Adrian Fier, David Smyth, Conor McCarthy, Tom Wheatley; Ryan Finn (capt.), Ryan Boland, Kyle Kenny, Ben Fitzpatrick, Jack Gleeson; Ayman Allain. Subs. - Scott Dixon for Allain (36), Dylan Leonard for McCarthy (54), McCarthy for Fitzpatrick (81).
Kilmore United: Aaron Busher; Cian Kehoe, Ryan Miller, Oisín Byrne, Ryan Kehoe; Jack Moore, Pierce McDonnell (capt.), Danny Roche, Cormac Lyons; Jude Bates; Ryan Carroll. Subs. - Daniel Fortune for Moore (56), Patrick Godden for R. Kehoe (63), Kehoe for Lyons, inj. (67).
Referee: Lar Doyle.