Douglas Hall 3 Killarney Celtic 3 (Killarney win 3-2 on penalties)
IT was heartbreak for Douglas Hall in the final of the New Balance FAI Youth Cup as they were beaten on penalties by Killarney Celtic following an extraordinary game played at Mounthawk Park in Tralee on Sunday afternoon.
Goals from James Daly and a superb brace from substitute Cormac Kelly saw Hall play their part in an incredible finale that ended 3-3 but it wasn’t to be their day as they lost 3-2 in the dreaded penalty shootout.
The Moneygourney club’s route to this final started 11 months ago and it has seen them play every cup tie away from home, including trips to Limerick, Donegal, Dublin, Clare and now Kerry.
They started this game brightly and they had the first shot on goal with just two minutes on the clock but David Garvin’s free-kick from the edge of the penalty area was easily dealt with by goalkeeper Adam Carey.
But from another set-piece just a few moments later, the Cork side took the lead thanks to a neat finish from James Daly.
The goal came at the end of a clever routine clearly worked on a number of times back on the training pitch as a short delivery from Alex Murphy picked out the on running Daly, who coolly slotted the ball past the keeper at his near post.
Killarney responded well to that early setback and from their first sight at goal, they almost forced an equaliser but the towering Evan Looney’s header from six yards out dropped just wide of the far post.
The Kerry District league club again went close to making it 1-1 moments later but shot-stopper Antonio Ancheta did well to stop Terry Sparling’s powerful long-range strike before he gathered it at the second attempt.
Celtic felt aggrieved midway through the first half after Erin Moloney went down inside the box but referee Gary Fitzgerald and his assistant were well placed and decided it was a corner.
The tempo of the match dropped following that decision but Hall did have the final chance of the half.
Murphy’s smart throw-in teed up Dawson in front goal but the number 11 drilled his half volley just over the target on the turn.
The Hoops would punish their opponents for not taking that opportunity as they snatched an equaliser in somewhat fortuitous circumstances.
Playing with the strong wing, Cian Doe cleverly whipped a dangerous corner over the head of everyone - including Ancheta between the Hall sticks - and into the far corner of the net.
Killarney was on top but Douglas retook the lead in the 66th minute with a remarkable team goal.
Equaibor regained possession just inside the Celtic half and immediately played an incisive pass between the lines to Anton Frank.
The playmaker turned and then released James Daly in the area, allowing the attacker to square for the on running substitute Cormac Kelly, who hammered the ball into the roof of the net.
They thought they had thrown it all away in the closing stages as Padraic Looney, who was voted man of the match, looped home a header to make it 2-2 before Killarney, incredibly, edged in front just over a minute later with a calm finish from Terry Sparling.
But Hall showed their character as they grabbed a 94th-minute leveller when Kelly showed composure beyond his years, coolly controlling the ball past his marker just outside the box before planting it into the bottom left corner to force extra time.
Celtic’s Emmet O’Shea squandered the best opportunity of the additional period as he sent a free header over.
So the game had to be decided by penalties and after Adam Carey denied Equaibor, Emmet O’Shea curled the decisive spot-kick into the bottom left corner to win it for Killarney Celtic.
DOUGLAS HALL: Antonio Ancheta, Alex Murphy, David Garvin, David O’Sullivan, Justin Equaibor, Dean McCarthy, James Daly, Ewan Lee, Anton Frank, Eoin Healy, Jack Dawson.
Subs: Cormac Kelly for Ewan Lee (57), Roger Timon for James Daly (68), Agape Malanda for Eoin Healy (89), Brian O’Neill for James Garvan (90), Cormac Hanley for Anton Frank (104).
KILLARNEY CELTIC: Adam Carey, Emmet Cronin, Cian Doe, Padraic Looney, Jason Kerins, Conor Henderson, Erin Moloney, James Darmody, Terry Sparling, Evan Looney, Dylan Callaghan.
Subs: Emmet O’Shea for Emmet Cronin (55), Ruairi Doyle for Erin Moloney (73), Craig Boyle O’Sullivan for Cian Doe (87), Dodwin Osebia for Terry Sparling (88), Jackson O’Mahony for Dylan Callaghan (94).
Referee: Gary Fitzgerald (Waterford).