Pearse Celtic 5
AN amazing roller-coaster ride of an FAI Intermediate Cup first-round game needed extra-time before separating Passage and Pearse Celtic at Rockenham Park on Thursday evening.
Both sides left everything on the pitch in a hugely entertaining cup tie, with Passage sub Chris Murphy getting the decisive goal in the first period of extra-time.
Passage, who had former Cork City stars Liam Kearney and Mark O’Sullivan in their line-up, never trailed in the contest and led 4-1 at the break, but in the end, this could have gone either way.
As the rain teemed down on Passage’s new astro pitch, both teams started with great energy and pace and Passage jumped in front two minutes in when centre-back Eamonn Fitzgerald scored from close range following a corner.
Their joy didn’t last long; two minutes later Keith McCarthy raced on to a ball over the top, beat the advancing keeper Luke Tett to the ball before firing home from just outside the area.
The high tempo of the game continued and O’Sullivan brought a terrific save out of Pearse keeper Daniel Moore five minutes later; at the other end, shortly afterward, Michael Cronin got on the end of Eric Hayes’ corner, but he headed wide from a good position.
Former Douglas Hall man Derek Varian had a couple of decent efforts for Passage, the first was blocked by a Pearse defender inside the penalty area, the second flashed over.
Both sides were playing good football, but in the final 15 minutes of the half, Passage hit a purple patch.
O’Sullivan had an effort from outside the area take a deflection which took the sting out of his shot and Moore gathered comfortably.
A minute later, though Passage were ahead again; Adam Papa broke forward on the left and pulled the ball back for Varian who crashed it high into the net from 10 yards.
Ten minutes later it was 3-1 after Brendan Kenny got on the end of a Shane Burke cross to drill the ball home and two minutes before half-time Varian got his second with a low strike to give his side a 4-1 advantage at the break.
Pearse needed a quick response in the second half, and they found one six minutes in. Shane Spitere had been sprung from the bench at the interval and he hit a long-range effort from the right which beat Tett at the far post.
Four minutes later Spitere struck a free from 25 yards on the right that Tett saved, spilled, and gathered and it was now Pearse’s turn to enjoy a good spell with the midfield trio of Ben Hamblin, David Daly, and Hayes all impressing.
McCarthy was a handful for the Passage defence throughout and he pushed a shot narrowly wide after the ball broke to him just before the hour mark and the striker then had a snap shot go wide moments later.
Pearse got their just reward on 63 minutes when Daly fed Hayes on the right and he drove the ball beyond Tett to make it 4-3.
The visitors had the momentum now and it was Passage’s turn to find a response. It came five minutes later when Burke’s free on the left near halfway found O’Sullivan at the far post and his powerful header beat Moore.
That appeared to settle Passage, but Pearse weren’t done yet and with seven minutes remaining McCarthy held off his man on the edge of the penalty area and got a shot away which beat Tett.
The momentum swung Pearse’s way again and they pressed for an equaliser, and just as it seemed Passage had done enough, in injury-time Daly whipped in a cross from the right which Passage defender James Kind headed into his own goal.
Passage almost scored from the tip-off when O’Sullivan’s effort from halfway needed a big save from Moore for a corner.
Pearse were the more upbeat side going into extra-time, but Passage posed the first question when sub Kieran Burke brought a save out of Moore. It was another sub though, Murphy, who put his side in front again; his initial shot was saved by Moore, but the rebound cannoned off the Passage player and into the net.
Pearse had to go to the well again and in the second period, they pushed hard as both sides began to tire.
They did have one good chance to level matters again when Hayes forced Tett into a fine save, but Passage were not to be caught out again and they hung on for a memorable victory.
PASSAGE: Luke Tett, Alex Murphy, Adam Papa, James Kind, Eamonn Fitzgerald, Ryan Hunter, Liam Kearney, Brendan Kenny, Derek Varian, Mark O’Sullivan, Shane Burke.
Subs: Milos Paczkowski for Kenny (55), Chris Murphy for Kearney (68), Kieran Burke for Varian (79).
PEARSE CELTIC: Daniel Moore, John Crean, Alan Murphy, Michael Cronin, Eric Murphy, Dylan O’Sullivan, Eric Hayes, Ben Hamblin, David Daly, Keith McCarthy, Daniel Santry.
Subs: Shane Spitere for Santry (h/t), Dean Coughlan for O’Sullivan (74), Sam Cassidy for Crean (1 e/t).
Referee: Anthony Buttimer.