Park u16 travelled away to Birr town today in our round of 32 national cup tie.. We went in to the game without top scorer Fergal Ryan and regular centre half Gazza Savage.. We started the game nervy but grew into it and started to move the ball around with our usual pace and tempo. Our 1st chance came when Ferdia O’Brien slipped Sam Tarrant through on goal but his attempt just went wide a promising start for us. A few minutes later Jesse Stafford Lacey sprung the offside trap and forced a good save from the Birr keeper. We forced a number of corners and Sam Tarrant’s deliveries caused lots of trouble with Segun’s header being cleared off the line.
We thought we should of had a penalty when Luke Moynihan skipped passed 2 players and was taken down for the referee to wave play on. Then with 10minutes left in the first half we were dealt a blow when a Birr defender hit a long hopeful ball which their left winger got to before our covering defender and placed the ball passed keeper Conor Hurley.. 1 nil became 2 nil when we were sloppy in possession around our box and with a miss placed pass that broke out to a Birr player and his hit and hope effort caught our keeper off guard and we were 2 down at half time.. The boys responded well in the 2nd half and started playing our football again but after the referee awarded Birr a very soft free kick we were caught sleeping and went 3-0 down with a header from the resulting free kick..
The boys showed their character and bounced back 2minutes later when a free kick from Sam was guided to the net by the outstretched leg of Segun. We then bombarded the Birr goal with Jesse Ferdia and Luke all having chance but every chance we created we wasted as most of our efforts were straight at the keeper. We suffered another set back when a long ball from a Birr defender caught us at the back and their striker after hitting the post with his 1st effort from 13yards reacted quickest and tapped the ball home. The game looked dead and buried but the boys showed fantastic spirit and kept going. They got a glimmer of hope when Jesse finally put his name on the score sheet after Ferdia clipped a ball over the top that Jesse got on to drove into the box from the left hand side and from 10yards smashed the ball into the corner.
We then went for it and went 3-4-3 we got our rewards all be it after wasting more chances. We were awarded a corner and as Jesse went to out to head the ball a Birr defender raised his foot and the referee pointed to the spot a dubious decision but 1 we didn’t complain about.. Jesse stepped up to take it he went low to the keepers right but the keeper got a hand to it but Jesse made no mistake from the rebound. It was now game on with 7minutes left. And for 6 of those minutes it was a siege of the Birr penalty box after we forced corner after corner we finally got the break we wanted when another of Sam’s corners caused trouble it broke to Jesse and he fired through a mass of players in the 6yard box and it found its way to the net.
The game then went to extra-time and we continued our momentum. We raided down the left wing with Luke and Karl Mullins causing havoc .We got the breakthrough from the same source a 1-2 between Karl and Luke with Luke having a shot from the right hand corner of the area and when the keeper couldn’t hold it Ferdia was on hand to pounce and tap home from 4yards. We then sat back to protect our lead and we did that just about as we conceded 1 last chance to them which they missed. As the whistle blew it was a relief but to be honest we should never have been in that position as we controlled the game but wasted chance after chance. Hopefully a wake up call to the lads as we progress to the last 16. Man of the Match today was Emmanuel as he was a driving force in us getting back into the game. All in all a great day for the club and hopefully our cup journey can continue in the next round .
Report by D.Magee .