KDFL Senior League side Rathangan AFC made their round four exit from the FAI Junior Challenge Cup on Sunday when they were narrowly defeated 5-3 by Mullingar Athletic after extra time, the game having finished 3-3 at full time, writes Michael Casey.
FAI Junior Challenge Cup Round 4
Rathangan AFC: 3
Mullingar Athletic: 5
The game played in poor weather conditions started slowly with the majority of play in midfield, neither side creating any clear cut chances for the first 15 minutes until the Kildare side opened the scoring after a period of sustained pressure through Emmet Geoghegan when he fired home past Noel Croash in the Mulligar goal from close range in a crowded area.
The game suddendly came to life on the half hour when the visitors equalised through David Maher following good work from Enda Morris and Keith Hope and the West Meath side when ahead three minutes later when John Gavin was on hand to tap home from close range leaving Rathangan reeling.
The Kildare side were not to be outdone and clawed themselves back into the game and the sides were level for a second time when Aidan Leonard headed home following good approach work from Tommy Moloney and the sides went in 2-2 at the break.
The Kildare side came out on top in the early stages of the second half and took the lead again ten minutes into the half following a spectacular effort from Aidan Kennedy. The home side had several chances to put the game beyond Mullingar in the closing stages through Tommy Moloney and Sam O’Loughlin, however they were to rue these missed chances when with ten minutes remaining the visitors grabbed an equaliser to bring the game to extra time.
The long season and good cup run by the Kildare side seemed to have taken its toll and the visitors went on to score twice in extra time, one from the penalty spot to see them through to round five.
Best for the home side were John Cassidy in goal, Eoin Kennedy in midfield and Aidan Leonard up front, while the winners were well served by Jimmy McEntee in defence, David Maher and Keith Hope in midfield and John Gavin up front.