Castle Villa AFC will meet fellow Senior Division side Rathangan AFC in the Final of the NA Meats Lumsden League Cup this Sunday following a hard earned victory over Liffey Celtic at Newhall last weekend.
This was a fantastic game of football between two excellent sides and Liffey Celtic will feel very hard done by to have lost this enthralling cup semi final after a fantastic second half performance from Castle Villa.
They will certainly be wondering how the score remained at 0-0 after a first half performance from Castle Villa ‘keeper Alan Proctor that had some of the Celtic players scratching their heads. Proctor made a string of top class saves, including a brilliant double save after 44 minutes from David Murphy to maintain the deadlock.
There was also a header from Brian Murphy eight yards in the centre of the goal put narrowly wide.
Villa did have chances of their own, however, and had a Paddy Mahon goal chalked off for offside after the Liffey ‘keeper Kevin McDonnell fumbled a Roy Byrne shot. Byrne was having a productive afternoon on the right side of the Villa midfield and was creating chances for the away side.
‘Villa’s midfield trio of Anthony Lawler, Stephen McDonald and Vinny Dowling were getting on the ball more as the half went on, and both teams played really good possession football, but Liffey were without doubt the better side in the opening period, even if the Villa players thought that they could, and probably should have scored.
The second half saw both teams continuing in the same vein, with some lovely football on show. The introduction of Castle Villa’s Timmy Doyle for Mark Kavanagh had a positive effect on the Castledermot side, especially with his vicious delivery from set pieces, Liffey netminder Kevin McDonnell made an excellent save from one inswinging free kick in particular.
The home side were causing the Villa defence serious problems from corner kicks, with Gavin O’Brien putting in fantastic deliveries and had a goal by Robbie Cullen deemed offside after a flicked header was cleared off the line by Paul Redmond with Proctor beaten.
The visitors had another close shave after 75 minutes when Gary Mulhall cleared off the line after a punch from Alan Proctor rebounded off the Liffey striker Paddy Campbell and was heading in. Mulhall, who was outstanding, recovered to clear the ball to safety, what a telling interception it was, because pretty much immediately, Roy Byrne broke down the right wing and went past his man. He had the opportunity to shoot himself, but put the ball on a plate for striker Paddy Mahon to slot home to put Villa 1-0 to the good after 77 minutes.
In the 79th minute, Villa went 2-0 up after some great play between Stephen McDonald and Vinny Dowling saw the former lay the ball back to Roy Byrne who powered the ball to the bottom cornerof McDonnell’s net.
Shortly after that, the killer blow for Liffey came when Anthony Lawler picked the ball up in his own half and made an absolutely storming run straight to the edge of the Liffey area. The referee played a great advantage after Lawler was cynically fouled to allow him to play in right back Paul Redmond who finally got the reward for his tireless running to slot home the third goal of the game.
Liffey were thrown a lifeline with five minutes left when Villa ‘keeper Alan Proctor was adjudged to have fouled striker Robbie Cullen in the area, and he stepped up to make no mistake from the spot to bring the scoreline to 3-1. Liffey threw caution to the wind in search of further goals but were denied by great defending from David Keating, Ross Coleman and Anthony Lawler, who had taken up a deeper role at this stage to ensure the Castledermot side’s return to a Lumsden Cup final since 2009.
Best for the winners were Paul Redmond and Ross Coleman in defence, Anto Lawlor and Roy Byrne in midfield, Timmy Doyle up front and Man of the match Alan Proctor in goal. While best for Liffey were Graham McCormack, Gavin O’Brien, Robbie Cullen, Darren Kilby and Brian Collins.
Alan Proctor, Paul Redmond, Ross Coleman, Gary Mulhall, David Keating, Anto Lawlor, Vinny Dowling, Roy Byrne, Stephen McDermott, Paddy Mahon, Mark Kavanagh, Timmy Doyle.
Kevin McDonnell, Graham McCormack, Karl Hegarty, Brian Collins, Gavin O’Brien, Robbie Cullen, Brian Murphy, Darren Kilby, Anthony Durney, David Murphy, Paddy Campbell.