FAI Cup R3
Date: 7:45 p.m. June 4, 2010
Venue: Morton Stadium
FAI Cup holders Fingal were the heavy favourites going into the tie and opened the scoring early-on through Eamon Zayed. Plucky Mervue didn’t have to wait long for their equaliser, as Mike Tierney scored for the Westerners minutes before half time.
Sporting began the match in the ascendancy. Kevin Dawson and Eamon Zayed went close for the home side within the first ten minutes.
It was Zayed who was to open the scoring on 13 minutes. A pass from Shaun Williams found Conan Byrne out wide, whose subsequent cross was put away as Zayed slid in yards from goal.
Momentarily it did look as if the match would be a Fingal whitewash. The Ravens had all the possession and Conan Byrne was an excellent provider of chances, his three crosses between the 15th and 23rd minutes all ending in near-goals.
Mervue were not ones to be put on the back foot for long in this cup tie, though, and the fight back began with some pressing play midway through the second half. After 27 minutes, United were denied a genuine chance of levelling. Shaun Maher clearly handled the ball in his own penalty area after a Mervue cross, something missed by the referee.
Two minutes later, Rory Gaffney went close with an effort from the edge of the Fingal box. Brendan Clarke cleared following a corner, but was almost beaten as Gaffney’s sweet shot could only find the side netting.
On 35 minutes Mervue did take their chance to level. A corner was whipped in and found Enda Curran on the wing. Curran then played it back in to the penalty area for Mike Tierney to head the ball in. Fingal’s bad spell took a turn for the worse five minutes later as Shaun Maher was sent off for a two-footed tackle on goalscorer Mike Tierney.
After half time, the both sides came out with renewed vigour: Fingal for attack and Mervue for defence. Kevin Crehan, a midfielder pressed into duty at right back, was the hero for Mervue as he played a big part in keeping the scores level.
A minute after half time, Crehan superbly turned the ball away from Eamon Zayed to deny the striker an easy finish. Crehan then denied Alan Kirby on 54 minutes after a Ger O’Brien cross looked set to fall for Kirby at the far post. Crehan, on his own with Kirby and Zayed in the box, produced a wonderful tackle and clearance to avert the danger.
The second half wasn’t without chances for Mervue, though. A snapshot from Noel Varley after just over an hour floated high and over, but Varley did well to make the chance. It became evident that Fingal’s normally accurate passing was off the mark tonight. Passes were going well off target, allowing Mervue to hold on to possession.
The home side did have a penalty shout on 70 minutes as Shane McFaul appeared to be elbowed and hauled down in the Mervue penalty area, but no penalty was awarded.
With fifteen minutes left, Fingal began to throw men forward in a desperate search for a winner. Zayed went close with two headers, as did Alan Kirby with seven minutes remaining, but the Mervue defence was more than a match for the more celebrated Fingal attack.
Fingal’s attack left them open to counter-attack, and Mike Tierney went agonisingly close to scoring the goal that would have knocked the holders out of the FAI Cup with just a minute remaining. A Rory Gaffney cross led to a goal line scramble, but Tierney just couldn’t get a clear shot to put the ball past Brendan Clarke. The match ended 1-1, which was a fair reflection on a match with its fair share of ‘cup magic’.
Sporting Fingal: Brendan Clarke, Ger O’Brien, Lorcan Fitzgerald, Shaun Williams, Shaun Maher, Kenny Browne, Conan Byrne, Ronan Finn, Eamon Zayed, Alan Kirby, Kevin Dawson (Shane McFaul ’66)
Subs Not Used: Brian Gannon, Glen Crowe, Darren Quigley, Keith Quinn, Shane Barrett.
Mervue United: Ger Hanley, Kevin Crehan, Darren Young (Kenny Farrell ’55), Tommy Walsh, Mike Elwood, Mike Tierney, Noel Varley, Alex Lee, Enda Curran (Evan Connolly ’64), Rory Gaffney, Pat Hoban (Mike Collins ’87)
Subs Not Used: Barry McEntee, Derek McWalter
Referee: D. Hanney
Extratime Man of the Match: Kevin Crehan