FAI Intermediate Cup Final Report: Firhouse Clover 1 - 4 Maynooth University Town (AET)

Sun, May 13 2018

Maynooth celebrations. Credit: Peter Fitzpatrick

Maynooth University Town became the first Kildare side to win a national trophy as they came back to defeat Firhouse Clover in a dramatic FAI Intermediate Cup final.

Despite being introduced with fifteen minutes to go in regulation time, Tommy Ilunga played a starring role in Maynooth's win, scoring one and assisting another.

Carl Forsyth had given Firhouse a late lead but Darragh Reynor equalised in added time before substiute Illunga, Youcef Belhout and Gary Daly.

Maynooth were lively throughout but Clover were physical, and the increased physicality made the game that much more enjoyable, as both teams looked up for it from the go.

Firhouse were the first team to have a pop at goal when centre-half Luke Walsh dinked a 25-yard free-kick over the Maynooth wall and off the crossbar.

The ball bounced in the Maynooth box before being scrambled clear.

Clover were the more dominant side for most of the first half, but University defended stoutly and repeatedly fended off the constant pressure.

The Kildare outfit began to create some chances towards the end of the half. Eoin McDermott found himself in behind the Firhouse backline but couldn’t fully connect to the through pass and poked a shot at the keeper, Ian Molloy.

Next to come close was Pouyan Farahamad who glanced a header just wide of the right-hand post.

They’d have one further chance before the interval. Full-back Shane Harte picked the ball up on the right flank, he made his way into the box before cutting onto his left foot and firing a shot narrowly wide of the far post.

Maynooth winger Cillian Duffy was lively throughout the game, and on the hour mark he found the side netting with a shot after bursting into the box following a one-two with Farahamad.

With the arrival of sub Gerry Bambrick in the 60th minute, Clover switched to two at the top. This more attacking style proved key as they opened the scoring fifteen minutes later.

Carl Forsyth picked up the ball before tearing towards goal, knocking it around the challenge of Maynooth full-back Jake Corrigan before firing the ball past the dive of the despairing keeper to put Clover in control.

Maynooth manager Barry Prenderville went for it with 15 minutes to go as he subbed on three attackers and moved to a three at the back formation in search of an equaliser.

And just like the Firhouse substitution, this change in style proved to be key

In the third of six added minutes at the end of the game, Darragh Reynor popped up at the back post to blast in the equaliser after a cross from the left was flicked into his path.

Maynooth wasted no time picking up where they left off at in extra time a sub Tommy Ilunga placed a low shot past the keeper to put Maynooth ahead just a minute after the restart.

University were by and far the better team in extra time, and they nearly extended their lead when a shot was saved by Ian Molloy right to the feet of Ilunga, but the big striker didn’t connect with it properly and hit his effort right at the keeper.

Firhouse rapidly began to fall apart and were reduced to ten men when Michael McLoughlin was given his marching orders after a second bookable offence.

They found themselves two behind just moments later when Youcef Belhout took down a long ball on the edge of the Clover box before cutting in and firing a low shot past Ian Molloy.

Firhouse had a goal called back for offside just before the end of the first period of extra time but it would be the only time they’d get a sniff of goal in the additional periods.

It took Maynooth just five minutes into the second half to put the result beyond doubt.

The impressive Ilunga bullied his way into the box and to the by-line before delivering a cross to Gary Daly who had the simple task of tapping it in from two yards.

Firhouse were sloppy in the last ten minutes. They had all but given up and it showed as they were constantly outnumbered at the back.

Maynooth had opportunities to inflate the score line further but they couldn’t manage to add to their tally before the final whistle.

Firhouse Clover: Ian Molloy; Peter O’Donnell, Luke Walsh, Patrick Brophy (Sean Ray 97), Craig Farrelly (Dylan McGrath 94); Michael McLoughlin, Michael Doyle, Connor Byrne; (Gerry Bembrick 60); Carl Forsyth, Darren Forsyth (Nike Arevadze 78), Rory O’Connor (Adrien Rafferty 65).

Subs Not Used: Stephen O’Connor (gk), Lorcan Paten.

Booked: Carl Forsyth (43), Michael McLoughlin (68 & 101).

Sent Off: Michael McLoughlin (101).

Maynooth University Town:

David Sterio (GK); Shane Harte (Tommy Ilunga 76), Jake Corrigan, Conor Mooney, Conor Dunne; Daragh Gannon, Daniel Burke (Youcef Belhout 80), Darragh Reynor, Eoin McDermott (Gavin Kinsella 80); Pouyan Farahammad (Eoin Donnellan 62), Cillian Duffy (Garry Daly 65).

Subs Not Used: Ciaran Whelan, Martin O’Connor.

Booked: Darragh Reynor (55), Youcef Belhout (116).

Referee: Owen Murphy.

Extratime.ie Player Of The Match: Tommy Ilunga (Maynooth University Town).