RINGMAHON Rangers missed out on a place in the first round of the FAI Cup as they were beaten 4-1 on penalties by Crumlin United after an enthralling cup tie finished 1-1 at the end of extra time at Ringmahon Park on Saturday afternoon.
Alan McGreal’s first-half penalty was cancelled out by Anthony McAlavey but in the shootout goalkeeper Eric Grimes and Tijani Aibor missed while Crumlin converted all their four spot-kicks to progress.
Last year, Ringmahon suffered a 3-2 defeat to Killester Donnycarney in the semi-final of the FAI Intermediate Cup after they conceded three goals within the first half-hour.
They were hoping to use that experience and that disappointment to their advantage and manager Aidan Foley named seven of his players that started that narrow loss in his starting eleven here.
Eric Grimes, Phillip Keane, Cian Kingston, Jack Cairns, Anthony McAlavey, Dean Swords, and Patrick O'Brien played their part in helping Rangers start this game brightly but they must have feared history may be repeating itself as they fell behind inside the opening minutes.
Against the run of play, Crumlin winger Darren Clarke made his way into the penalty area and was subsequently tripped by the outstretched leg of Kingston. The referee had no choice but to point to the spot and from 12 yards, Alan McGreal coolly fired the ball straight down the middle after just six minutes.
They were dealt a further blow when striker Dean Swords was forced to withdraw early having failed to recover from a knock that he suffered shortly before the opening goal.
But the Mahon club responded well to the adversity, and substitute Sean Blake was involved almost immediately but he couldn’t rise high enough to head home McAlavey’s free-kick at the back post.
McAlavey was pulling the strings in midfield and he almost created the equaliser for his side on the quarter of an hour mark but after racing onto his precise through ball in behind the defence, Jack Cairns' weak shot from a tight angle was saved by opposing keeper Mickey Quinn.
McAlavey would show his number nine how it was done moments later as he got his team a much-deserved leveller with a composed finish.
On this occasion, the two swapped roles as the centre-midfielder ran onto Cairns' exceptional through ball before taking it past the onrushing goalkeeper and slotting it past the recovering defence.
The pace Rangers had up-front caused United’s rearguard problems and from a swift counter-attack, they almost completed the comeback after half an hour Tijani Aibor reclaimed possession on his own end-line and his long, purposeful pass released Cairns but although his first touch was perfect, his snapshot was less so and drifted away from the target.
The hosts finished the first half the better side but they couldn’t grab the crucial third goal of the game with Cameron Harlson twice squandering two good openings before the break.
Patrick O’Brien tried his luck from distance as Ringmahon carried that momentum into the second period but his effort was parried and then gathered by Quinn.
But the intensity of the cup tie soon dropped as both sets of players seemed to struggle given the lack of competitive matches they’ve played in recent times.
O’Brien fired over for Rangers while Crumlin’s Darren Clarke’s attempt was saved either side of the hour.
The chances soon dried up although both went close again in injury time but the excellent Cian Kingston headed over before McGreal curled a free just wide with the last kick of normal time.
The two clubs dug deep and gave it everything but they still couldn’t be separated after 120 minutes although McAlavey forced a good stop from United’s substitute keeper David Meehan late on.
So penalties were required to decide who would make it through and misses from Grimes and Aibor proved costly for a spirited Ringmahon.