It was a case of Cup heartbreak for Parkvilla on Saturday afternoon when a 93rd minute winner from Blarney United substitute Kieran Murray sent the Navan side tumbling out of the FAI Cup.
Parkvilla had taken the lead in added time at the end of the first half when Gary McCrossan buried a penalty high into the left hand corner of the Blarney net, but an excellently worked free kick provided Blarney with an 83rd minute equaliser courtesy of Ray O’Leary. Murray then struck the killer blow deep in added time to send Parkvilla home with nothing to show for their battling performance.
Chances were at a premium in an opening forty five minutes during which neither side truly got a grip on a fiercely competitive game. Parkvilla ‘keeper Anthony O’Conner was quick out of his goal to sweep up behind his backline on a couple of occasions and Jamie Blake almost broke through the Blarney defence on 34 minutes when he stole possession from Alan Weldon before being chased down by Denis Buckley.
But the best opportunity of the half fell to Blarney’s Derek Healy when he headed Stephen Jennings’ free kick off a post, the rebound landing neatly in O’Connors arms. Four minutes later Blarney had another chance when Cathal O’Neill found Mark Cremin with a ball from the left but the midfielder stabbed wide when well placed.
The breakthrough came two minutes into added time when Ray O’Leary appeared to handle inside the Blarney box and referee Aiden O’Regan awarded the spot kick. Centre back Gary McCrossan stepped up and blasted home an unstoppable penalty.
The second half was no less committed but both teams found enough time and space to play some more expansive football. Parkvilla striker Dave O’Neill fired narrowly wide just one minute after the restart and Blarney’s Healy headed just wide while under pressure five minutes later.
As the half progressed Blarney’s urgency saw them take the initiative, winning more of the ball but failing to penetrate Parkvilla’s dogged defence. O’Connor was excellent in goals, commanding his area under increasing Blarney pressure, but there was nothing he could do to prevent the equaliser on 83 minutes. Jennings slid a freekick into the path of Cathal O’Neill and his pin-point cross was met at the back post by Ray O’Leary whose diving header found the Parkvilla net.
O’Neill almost scored again for Blarney when his long distance lob just cleared the bar one minute later and, with the ninety minutes up, Jennings clipped a magnificent free kick off the inside of O’Connor’s right hand post and away to safety.
Colin Lynch then nearly stole it for Parkvilla when Blarney ‘keeper Steve Gahan tipped his well struck free kick over the bar. But, with three minutes of added time played, sub Alan Stewart split the Parkvilla defence with a slide-rule pass for Kieran Murray who poked the ball past O’Connor to break Parkvilla hearts.
Blarney United: Steven Gahan; Denis Buckley, Alan Weldon, Aidan Leahy; Stephen Jennings; Mark Cremin (Shane Stewart 54), Ray O’Leary, Conor Cronin (Kieran Murray 44), John Lawlor (Alan Stewart 74); Cathal O’Neill, Derek Healy.
Subs not used: Ivan O’Leary, David Sweeney.
Booked: Weldon (45+1), O’Leary (59).
Parkvilla: Anthony O’Connor; Eoin Herd (Cathal Kennedy 90+4), Chris Kennedy, Gary McCrossan, Andy Williamson; Colin Lynch, Mark Brady, Brian McCrossan; Alan Kerr (Ian O’Brien 81); David O’Neill (Simon Dixon 90+4), Jamie Blake.
Subs not used: Scott Reilly.
Booked: Blake (45+3), Brady (57), Lynch (84), C Kennedy (90).
Referee: Aiden O’Regan.
Attendance: 60 (estimate)
Extratime Man of the Match: Cathal O’Neill (Blarney United).