Our U17s squad, under a new management team this year led by Ailbe Coffey opened their league campaign away to Mungret Regional on Sunday afternoon. Mungret is always a difficult place to get a result and so it was, as Newport were denied a valuable point, after Mungret converted a controversial penalty very late in the game to run out 3-2 winners after a very tough physical encounter, in which no quarter was asked or given.
The game was due to have been played at the Dock Road pitch but after the warm ups, the ref declared the pitch unplayable and a convoy of cars ferried both sets of players to Mungret’s main pitch.
In absolutely miserable conditions, Newport got off to the worst possible start after conceding a goal just 2 minutes into the new season. Despite the early setback, Newport grew into the game and deservedly equalised when Devlin Courtney continued his goal-scoring exploits of the tail-end of last season when he expertly curled a free kick to the top corner.
Just 7 minutes later, hard-working Colin Coleman won a free-kick in the middle of the park. Elliott Slattery delivered a trademark free kick into the danger area, which the keeper failed to deal with and Devlin was on hand to score his and Newport’s second.
Newport’s lead was short-lived, when Mungret equalised in the 33rd minute. A free kick was floated into the box and a Mungret player ghosted into the box to glance home a header, which gave Brendan Coffey in the Newport goal no chance. In truth, this was a soft goal to give away and defensive lapses like these will be worked on and ironed out in training.
The referee played 7 minutes of injury time in the first half but there was to be no further goals. 2-2 at half-time and anybody’s game.
A feature of this game was some hard but fair tackles from both sides but on 60 minutes Devlin Courtney, who took a few hefty challenges throughout the game was taken out by the Mungret centre-half, who received a yellow card for the mistimed tackle.
The second half was nip & tuck and it looked likely that whoever scored next would take all 3 points on offer. On 70 minutes, Devlin went close from a free kick and just one minute later at the other end, Brendan Coffey had to be at his very best to tip over a long range effort from Mungret, which had goal written all over it.
With the clock heading towards 90 minutes a Mungret player latched on to a route one kick out and ran towards the box but was guided harmlessly towards the end-line. However when challenged for the ball the Mungret player went down and the referee blew for a penalty much to the amazement of the Newport players and supporters. Brendan Coffey got a hand to the resultant spot-kick but there was too much power behind the shot to keep it out.
Newport’s best efforts to get the leveller in injury time just fell short and the Mungret defence held firm and the home side were delighted to take all 3 points on offer. Based on this game, the return game later in the season could very well be a cracker.
Despite the narrow defeat, the players and management are looking forward to the rest of the season as there were lots of positives to be taken out of the game.
Man of the Match was Devlin Courtney, last season’s Player of the Year, for both his 2 goal contribution and overall work rate and attitude.
We wish new player Pat Murtagh a speedy recovery from a knee injury and hope that he’s fit to play again very soon. The same goes to our other injured players, Darren Collins & James Lynch, who we hope to see back in action in the very near future.
This year’s 22 man panel consists of last year’s core panel plus 7 new players, who have settled very well into the squad after only a few weeks. A feature of this tight-knit group of players over the past number of years is the unity and team spirit and this was once again reflected in this game, when everything was left on the pitch and were very unlucky not to get the draw they deserved.
The club would like to welcome new players, Pat O’Toole, Pat Murtagh, Philly Deegan, James Rochford, Ben Wixted & Jack Connolly and it’s also great to see Darren Collins return to the club and his buddies.
There’s a long way to go in the season and we now look forward to our next game at home to Aisling Annacotty on Thursday.
Matchday Squad: Brendan Coffey, Elliott Slattery, Jack Noble, Pat O’Toole, Killian O’Malley, Colin Coleman, Nathan Hartigan, Devlin Courtney, Philly Deegan, Adam Hurley, Pat Murtagh, Jordan Mooney, Ben Wixted, James Rochford, Jack Butler Williams, Cian O’Connell, Jack Landers, Robert Duggan