Scorers: Christy Doyle & Sean Ryan
In the words of Annie Lennox “Sweet dreams are made of this”. What a proud, memorable & historic day for Newport Town AFC on Sunday, when we booked our place in the last 32 of the FAI Junior Cup after a pulsating cup-tie against Carbury FC from Sligo in a rocking Derryleigh Park on Sunday afternoon. The poor weather probably kept some people away, but they were the losers as those present witnessed a titanic game between two evenly matched sides. In the end, it took the dreaded penalty shootout to decide the tie and it was Newport who held their nerve to advance to the next round on a 4-3 scoreline after the 90 minutes ended 2-2 and no further goals were scored in extra-time.
Newport were firm underdogs before the game. Carbury were on a 15-game winning streak and had been unbeaten in 3 years and were highly fancied to advance. However, Newport had other ideas and a game plan, which they executed to perfection. The home side almost took the lead in the second minute, when the very impressive Davy Ryan, a former FAI Junior Cup winner himself, saw his cross deflected onto the crossbar. The early stages of the game were nip & tuck, but Newport were not overawed by their illustrious opponents. In the 17th minute Darren Collins pile-driver was well-saved by the Carbury net-minder, Mark Rooney.
Just one minute later, the visitors took the lead, when Carbury beat the offside trap and Gary Finan finished well after a lovely through ball from Ross McLoughlin. Just 4 minutes later, Newport levelled the game when Christy Doyle scored his 18th of the season after a well-worked move. Davy Ryan won the ball in the middle of the park and passed to U18 player Darren Collins, who swept a lovely pass out to Brian O’Sullivan on the left wing. His cross was met by Christy who headed the ball to the net.
In the 27th minute, Carbury had a good chance to retake the lead but their player headed over the bar from close range. After a great Newport move in the 35th minute, Sean Ryan saw his sweetly-struck shot hit the butt of the post and into the grateful hands of the Carbury keeper. The rest of the half was played out without either side creating any clear-cut chances. 1-1 at half-time and it was anyone’s game to win.
5 minutes into the second half, Davy Ryan had a gilt-edged chance to score from inside the box, but his shot hit the cross-bar and Carbury breathed a sigh of relief. The supporters, high on the bank, were beginning to wonder if we would rue the chances that we had left behind. In the 52nd minute, the Carbury keeper, Mark Rooney had to leave the field injured and was replaced by Danny O’Leary.
In the 55th minute Carbury’s Mark McGoldrick made it 2-1 with a great finish after a lovely passing move from left to right. Now Newport would have to come from behind again. Carbury upped the tempo for the next 15 minutes and the Newport rear-guard, superbly marshalled by Christy O’Connor & Elliott Slattery, dealt with the pressure brilliantly. Newport’s experienced keeper, Jimmy Fyfe was in commanding form and dealt with any danger in front of him. In the 66th minute, Davy Ryan’s header was well-saved by the Carbury keeper and in the 74th minute, Christy Doyle had a great chance from 10 yards, but his shot was saved. At this stage it looked like it wasn’t going to be Newport’s day but as time was running out the vocal home crowd really got behind the lads and in the 86th minute got their deserved equaliser when Sean Ryan headed home from a great cross from Peter O’Sullivan. Derryleigh Park erupted and the dream was alive again.
The final minutes of the second half ran down and when referee, Robbie Broe, blew his final whistle, both sides and the supporters were able to draw breath and regroup for extra-time. 20 minutes of extra-time saw no further goals and the game went to a penalty shootout.
Carbury were first up and Jimmy Fyfe saved well but unfortunately Newport’s first spot-kick was also saved. The tension was palpable with both sides realising what was at stake. Carbury’s second spot-kick was saved again by Jimmy Fyfe and then Kalem Harte scored his penalty. Elliott Slattery & Christy Doyle both scored their penalties as did their Carbury counter-parts. It then fell to Peter O’Sullivan to take the final Newport spot-kick and he brilliantly slotted home to send Newport into the last 32 for the first time ever. The scenes that greeted the Newport players as they left the pitch will live long in the memory and the celebrations went long into the night.
Newport now look forward to the draw for the next stages and will relish the challenge that awaits, home or away. This was a great day for the club and lots of thanks are due to lots of people. The pitch was in superb condition due to the hard work of the grounds staff, the masses were superbly catered for by the hard-working Jenny Noble & Sarah Egan of the Social Committee of the Social Committee. Thanks to everyone else who helped out by manning the car park, collecting the admissions and special mention to our ball-girls and ball-boys who did a brilliant job. Thanks to Mary Jo and her staff in O’Sullivan’s for their post-match hospitality.
Match Day Squad: Jimmy Fyfe, Kevin O’Brien, Mark McGuire, Elliott Slattery, Christy O’Connor, Peter O’Sullivan, Davy Ryan, Darren Collins, Christy Doyle, Sean Ryan, Brian O’Sullivan (Capt), James Lynch, Kalem Harte, Dave Kennedy, Devlin Courtney, Nathan Hartigan, Brendan Coffey & Jack Noble