Senior League champions Naas United progressed to the McIntyre Senior Cup final in their quest for the glorious double following this penalty shoot out victory over Castle Villa on Sunday afternoon in Mullarney Park.
McIntyre Cup Semi Final
Naas United: 0
Castle Ville: 0 (AET)
Naas United win 3-1 on pens
They now meet with league runners up Woodstock Celts who had a narrow 3-2 extra time victory over a game Ballycane Celtic, in the final.
Villa, having knocked United out of the NA Meats Lumsden League Cup earlier in the season, were hoping for a similar result on Sunday, however they found Naas goalkeeping legend Aaron Smith in top form throughout.
Both sides started brightly and there were chances at both ends, firstly for the home side from Timmy Doyle who brought a fine save from Smith after five minutes while at the other end home ‘keeper Alan Proctor had to be at his best to keep out an effort from United’s Vernon Nolan after nine minutes and three minutes later Proctor was called into action again when Vinnie O’Connor flicked the ball into the path of Jason Acton who found himself one on one with the Villa net minder, however the home ‘keeper got down well to snuff out the danger.
Both sides settled after this high tempo start and play opened considerably. The visitors were forced to defend two quick corners from Villa before current KDFL player for the year Naas’ Stephen Burke won a free from 20 yards out. His effort was easily dealt with by the experienced Proctor in the home goal.
On 38 minutes the visitors went close again with a curling effort from Vernon Nolan. Disaster struck for the League Champions just before the break when Nolan was dismissed by referee Johnny Dwane for a challenge on Villa’s Timmy Doyle and they were forced to make some positional changes.
Castle Villa came out with more confidence in the second half and pressured the visitors from the restart, Paul Redmond saw his screamer expertly tipped around the post by Aaron Smith for a corner on the 48th minute and five minutes later Jordan Harmon was unlucky to see his header hit the angle of the post and crossbar after Smith had misjudged a Mark Kavanagh corner.
At the other end Vinnie O’Connor was proving very capable of playing up front on his own and was causing all sorts of problems for Villa’s Gary Mulhall.
The visitors were unlucky on 55 minutes when Eoin Doyle saw his header cleared of the Villa line straight into the path of Stephen Burke, however Burke’s effort was cleared to safety by the resolute home defence. Equally so at the other end Villa’s front men Paddy Mahon and Mark Kavanagh were finding Jimmy McGrath and Brian Cooper at the heart of the visitors defence in top form. Midway through the second half the home side would be forgiven for thinking they had gone ahead when a spectacular effort from Mahon smashed off the crossbar and hit keeper Smith on the back of the neck but the ball bounced out for a corner.
With just eight minutes remaining Naas United’s Jason Acton had two glorious chances to put his side ahead when firstly he linked well with Eoin Doyle before shooting over the bar from close range and again five minutes later a long range effort was tipped away by Proctor before Referee John Dwane blew for full time. With both sides tiring in extra time play was very cagey with Villa shading the chances. They had an effort cleared off the line by substitute Paddy Walshe and in the dying seconds of extra time Naas defender Joe Ryan made a rare error allowing Villa’s danger man Paddy Mahon in one on one with Smith in the Naas goal. In a heart stopping moment Smith pulled off an incredible save to bring his side to the dreaded penalty shootout.
Smith’s luck was certainly in on the day and he proved to be the hero when saving three of Villa’s spot kicks to clinch victory for the Naas side who now compete in their first Senior Division Cup final.
The winners had man of the match in Stephen Burke who was ably assisted by Joe Ryan and goal-keeping hero Aaron Smith. While for Villa who now set their sights on their encounter with Liffey Celtic in the League Cup Semi final, ‘keeper Alan Proctor, David Keating, Gary Mulhall and Paddy Mahon were outstanding.
Alan Proctor, Paul Redmond, Ross Coleman, David Keating, Gary Mulhall, Antony Lawlor, Stephen McDonald, Timmy Doyle, Roy Byrne, Paddy Mahon, Mark Kavanagh, Jordan Harmon, James Ashmore, Lee Doyle , Malcolm Kirwan.
Aaron Smith, Jimmy McGrath, Alan Crowe, Brian Cooper, Joe Ryan, Vernon Nolan, Mark Saunders, Stephen Burke, Jason Acton, Vinny O’Connor, Eoin Doyle, Daragh Deane, Eoin Giblin, James Lambe, Patrick Walshe.