Aviva FAI Junior Cup Quarter-Final: Carrick United 2 Boyle Celtic 2 (Boyle Celtic won 6-5 on penalties AET):
Boyle Celtic’s team of soccer heroes wrote another glorious chapter in the club’s history with a breath-taking, heart-stopping win against a much fancied home side in this pulsating quarter-final tie played in front of a huge crowd at Tom Drohan Park in Carrick-on-Suir last Sunday.
The hundreds of Boyle people who made the long journey to the southeast were rewarded with a victory that will be remembered for many years by those who were lucky enough to have been there to see it happen. Boyle’s reward is a home draw against Evergreen from Kilkenny and a chance to become the first team from County Roscommon to qualify for the final of the FAI Junior Cup.
There was so much drama packed into this tie it would take several pages to detail it all. It was a roller coaster of emotion for the Boyle Celtic team, their management and fans as fortunes swayed one way then the other over this marathon tie that took two periods of extra-time and 16 penalties to settle.
Consider Celtic goalkeeper Kyle Suffin for one. He played very well throughout the match until the 94th minute when, in a desperate attempt to rescue the match at 2-1 down, Carrick made one last attempt to equalise. Thomas Ryan lofted a cross into the Boyle penalty area, Suffin came to collect but dropped the ball at the feet of Carrick danger man Jack Doherty, whose snap shot hit the crossbar before sub Keith Walsh poked home from six yards. The home crowd went wild while Suffin had his head in his hands. Would Boyle rue that devastating lapse?
But in the manner of this incredible tie it was Suffin who emerged the Boyle hero, saving Jack Walsh’s penalty kick in the shootout at the end of the game. It put his side through to the last four and the celebrations on the field afterwards had to be seen to be believed. Boyle had come to Carrick-on-Suir and dumped out the favourites.
Played on a fine but very blustery day, the opening half was well contested and it was Carrick who were probably the better side, with the skilful Jack Doherty looking the most likely to open the scoring. The match then burst into life in the 38th minute. Anthony Power lifted a clever ball into the path of Doherty who volleyed past Kyle Suffin from 12 yards for a superb goal for the home side. But Boyle were not about to sit back and admire Carrick’s handy work, and within two and a half minutes they were level. Danny Browne played the ball into the danger area and Michael Corrigan’s fantastic looping header flew into the top corner from ten yards out. The sides went in one apiece at the break.
Boyle, with Seanie Purcell and John Connolly controlling matters at the back, grew in confidence as the game progressed and restricted the hosts to a couple of half chances. The visitors looked far more likely to score and in the 65th minute they went ahead. This time Danny Browne and Niall Brennan did the spadework before Corrigan poked home his second goal of the game from eight yards out.
Boyle controlled the game from there to the finish but at 2-1 there was always a chance that the home side might equalise and that’s what happened in the 94th minute. Boyle fans were distraught but as the teams prepared for extra-time it was clear that Boyle were fiercely determined not to leave the southeast without a win.
The two periods of extra-time produced a lot of hard endeavour from both sides but when referee Donal Power blew the final whistle it was down to the lottery of a penalty shootout and the drama was only beginning.
Boyle scored their first three penalties from Danny Browne, Gerard McDermottroe and sub James Carty while the home side missed one and Kyle Suffin saved another. Boyle only needed one more to win it but incredibly Seanie Purcell and Shane Battles both had penalties saved as the home side scored both to level the scores at 3-3. Boyle scored their next three spot-kicks (Dessie Carlos, Luka Roddy and John Connolly) while the home side scored their first two.
Now it was Jack Walsh against Kyle Suffin and the Boyle man dived low to his right to save the kick and send the Boyle fans into delirium.
The scenes out on the field after the game were something that will live long in the memory as Boyle players, management and fans celebrated the greatest day in the club’s history and not only that but there is plenty more to come as well.