Shannon Town Utd held their own against St Michael’s, one of Ireland’s top junior clubs, until just 11 minutes remained before conceding a soft goal to a sucker-punch following a defensive lapse.
Munster League Champions Trophy Semi Final: Shannon Town Utd 0 St Michael’s AFC 2
The star-studded side from Tipperary Town counts Ireland’s Shane Long and FAI chief executive John Delaney among its former players. On Sunday they arrived at Frank Healy Park in Ennis with a strong team containing six Irish junior internationals.
In contrast to the bitter cold and wet previous day, conditions were ideal at Doora with strong sunshine and little wind, other than that ground conditions were excellent given the recent inclement weather.
St Michael’s are managed by James Walsh, in his playing days, he won over 70 junior international caps for his country. Their first chance of the game came in the 2nd minute when David Slattery’s shot was high over Darren Whelan’s crossbar.
Shannon Town Utd responded a minute later when Rob Wall’s shot sailed over. Both sides were playing an intelligent, open game of football that was entertaining for the relatively sparse crowd of spectators.
Goal scoring chances were few and far between. After a quarter of an hour, David Slattery snatched a header from close range but goalkeeper Darren Whelan had read the situation well. Shannon Town Utd countered with their midfield dynamo Rob Wall floating in a pass for Josh Lindsay but Jon Kennedy covered back to head to safety.
St Michael’s had settled into their rhythm, holding possession, running with the ball and spraying passes around with great accuracy while Shannon Town Utd used the long ball tactic to get men up front.
On the half hour, both sides exchanged corners St Michael’s used theirs to best effect. Shane Ryan swung the ball into the danger area when it was headed clear Jimmy Carr was upended and the Tipp side had a free kick from the edge of the 18-yard area. Once again goalkeeper Darren Whelan was up to the task.
Shannon Town Utd won a close-range free four minutes later but Rob Wall got under the ball and failed to hit the target. In the 39th minute, Richie Ryan was put through for St Michael’s but a great tackle by Brian Monaghan ensured the scoreboard was kept clear.
Three minutes before the break John O’Brien’s cross to the back post was headed on by David Slattery but Darren Whelan made a good save. The sides remained level at half-time.
After the break, Chris Dunning came on for Brian O’Connor. Within two minutes Shannon Town Utd had won a free, the ball was floated in by Brian Monaghan to his captain Darren Griffin. Goalkeeper Adrian Walsh appeared to collide with Griffin but referee Mark Rellis dismissed appeals for a penalty.
The sides remained deadlocked until the 79th minute when Joey Mulcahy’s free was missed by the defence and Ollie O’Driscoll turned on the ball to strike first-time past Darren Whelan, 1-0. Within three minutes the Tipperary champions consolidated their lead when Mulcahy threaded his pass through the defence for David Slattery to finish to the net.
With two minutes of normal time remaining Chris Dunning had a chance to pull one back for Shannon Town but he snatched at the shot and it went wide.
After the game, Shannon Town coach Donal Magee paid tribute to St Michael’s. Describing them as a well-organised team, he said they do the simple things well, work hard for each other and made the most of their set-pieces. “But I have to hand it to our own lads,” said Donal, “they kept trying right to the end. If our appeals for a penalty had been granted, it could have been a very different game. In the end, though we were caught for a soft first goal and ultimately paid the price.”
Next Sunday, Shannon Town Utd will host Ballingarry FC from Limerick in the 4th round of the FAI Junior Cup at Lynch Park with a 2.00pm kick-off. Come out and give them your support!