Joe Ryan Cup Semi-Final, Sunday 15 April 2018
Kinvara United 2 (Kent, Travis) Knocknacarra FC 1
The Joe Ryan Cup presented Kinvara with an opportunity to salvage something from a disappointing season. Victory today would mean a final against MacDara in Eamonn Deacy Park, 10 years after Kinvara’s last appearance at the home of Galway United.
The match kicked off in wet and very windy conditions. The weather made it difficult to play good football, the wind in particular causing problems for both teams. As a result the first half ended in stalemate and produced few chances. Louis Fossati and Johny O’Dea worked hard up front but found it difficult to hold the ball up against an uncompromising Knocknacarra defence. Kinvara also struggled to get enough ball out to wide men Ricky Kent and Peter Mulleady. The midfield was hampered by a knee injury to Dualta Griffin which reduced his mobility. Danny O’Connor was everywhere, but space and time in midfield was at a premium. However, the Kinvara defence of Paul O’Sullivan, Nigel Conneely, Gerard O’Dea, and Graham Martin were coping well with the Knocknacarra attack, and keeper Gary Kavanagh dealt competently with anything that got past the back four.
Half time saw the introduction of 16 year old Danny Travis for the injured Griffin, resulting in a re-shuffle that saw Johny O’Dea dropping back into midfield, Kent playing more centrally, and Travis playing wide left. Kinvara began to dominate the game, creating chances, but sometimes missing out by not releasing the ball as quickly as they could have. Fossati forced the keeper into a good save, Kent went close, and a Travis free kick was just wide. Knocknacarra remained dangerous on the break, and a misunderstanding from a Kinvara free kick on the edge of the Knocknacarra box led to the ball being cleared high into the swirling wind. As the ball dropped it was hit on the volley with the outside of the boot from over 30 yards by the Knocknacarra substitute. The ball swerved wickedly from left to right, giving the keeper no chance. A great goal!
Fifteen minutes remained for Kinvara to rescue the game. Jonny O’Dea was replaced by Mark Kavanagh, and Conneely was injured and replaced by Jeff Stephens, prompting another reshuffle that pushed O’Sullivan into midfield. Within four minutes Kinvara were level, when a miscued clearance gave Kent the opportunity to score from 10 yards. Game on, but with the prospect of extra time and (God help us!) penalties.
Kinvara continued to pour forward with Martin overlapping at every opportunity, giving Travis the opportunity to send in a series of dangerous crosses. Eventually with one minute left, Travis picked up the ball on the left, evaded a couple of tackles, and bent the ball into the top corner from 20 yards. A goal worthy of winning any game!
Pandemonium ensued, but the match was not yet won. Knocknacarra threw everyone forward and in the last seconds of injury time Kinvara defenders threw their bodies in front of Knocknacarra shots and boots to protect the slender lead and to guarantee a place in the final at Eamonn Deacy Park on Thursday 3 May at 7 pm.
Congratulations to the full panel and management on a stirring win, and best of luck for the cup final and the remaining league games. Special mention to Nigel Conneely who played in Kinvara’s last final appearance 10 years ago, when a very young boy. Nigel was also on the Kinvara panel on their only previous final appearance 20 years ago, when practically a baby!
Kinvara United: Gary Kavanagh, Paul O’Sullivan, Gerard O’Dea, Nigel Conneely, Graham Martin, Peter Mulleady, Danny O’Connor, Dualta Griffin, Ricky Kent, Johny O’Dea, Louis Fossati, Danny Travis, Mark Kavanagh, Jeff Stephens, Conor McGourty, Ger Ryan, David Bermingham, Cormac Killilea.
Match report by Dave Travis.