“Partners” edge tight affair to progress in National Shield.
The Monaghan United / Cavan Football Partnership SSE Airtricity Under 17’s National League side extended their season on Saturday afternoon when they progressed into the next round of the newly established National Under 17’s Shield competition. Their opponents on Saturday were the famous Derry City FC, who would have been regarded as one of the favourites to win this competition before kick-off. The opening exchanges set the scene for what was in store as both sides played open, expansive football from the start. Derry attacked from the kick-off and forced the “Partners” to concede an early corner which Shane Dillon headed over from an Aaron McColgan delivery. The home side responded almost immediately when Karl Cosgrove did tremendous work on the left wing before driving an inviting ball across the 6 yard box but it just evaded Dylan McMullen’s outstretched lung. From the kick-out Ify Nzewi was released by Lewis Gibson but his weak effort was easily dealt with by Jason McCallion in the “Candystripes” goals. The “Partners” threatened again in the 9th minute when McMullen’s cross was headed goal-wards by Seosamh Sheerin but McCallion gathered comfortably. Sheerin came even closer 5 minutes later when his half volley smashed against the underside of the crossbar from a delightful ball from Cianan Kelly. Sheerin was again involved 5 minutes later when he picked up the ball on the halfway line from a clearance from a Derry City corner. With no support he controlled and headed towards the “Candystripes” goal beating 2 players before eventually having his run halted. The “Partners” were dominating possession at this stage of affairs but got caught out in the 21st minute after Cosgrove’s free-kick was intercepted and the visitors brought from deep inside their own half, stringing together a series of passes before Shane McNamee picked out Matty Doherty in the “Partners” area and although Luke Perkins got a hand to the shot, he couldn’t prevent it from hitting the back of the net. The goal gave the visitors belief and for the next 20 minutes or so they had the better of affairs with Perkins having to make one or two important saves. The “Partners” defence of Luke Donohoe, Cameron Dowd and Adam O’Connor where being pulled from one side of the pitch to the other and Cosgrove, Kelly, Gibson and Lorcan Murnaghan in front of them had to work tirelessly to try to stem the pressure that Derry were putting them under. Derry’s pressure resulted in the “Partners” having to concede numerous corners and the visitors threatened to extend their lead on several occasions. When the “Partners” did manage to get up the other end they again nearly conceded again from their own corner as Derry broke away again and McNamee forced a tremendous save out of Perkins. This was to prove to be a vital intervention as within 2 minutes the sides were level. O’Connor intercepted a stray pass before quickly releasing McMullen inside the Derry half, he switched the ball over to the left wing where Cosgrove took possession. The winger seemed to have very few options in front of him as he was confronted by 2 Derry players but he used them as a shield to float a fantastic shot over both of them as well as McCallion and find the far top corner of the net. Derry could have restored their lead within a minute but Perkins got down low to save a Sean McBride shot at his near post. As the half seemed to be ending in a tie, the “Partners” broke quickly with Cosgrove this time becoming the provider as he picked out McMullen on the edge of the area. McMullan drove towards the bye-line before delivering a perfect cross into the heart of the area where Sheerin rose to thump an unstoppable header to the back of the net.
Halftime Monaghan United / Cavan FP 2 Derry City FC 1.
Dean Connolly replaced the injured Gibson at halftime and slotted into the heart of midfield alongside Kelly. Derry thought they had equalised within 2 minutes of the restart when Perkins again had to make a brilliant save from a McNamee shot but although McBride finished to the net, he was in an offside position. It was the “Partners” who did score next though. O’Connor again was at the heart of things when he burst forward from his defensive duties before picking out McMullen with a diagonal pass. McMullen quickly found Nzewi inside the Derry area and he laid a perfectly weighted pass into Sheerin’s path where the inform striker struck a low drive under McCallion’s dive. Again Derry responded by coming forward and Perkins had to be at his brilliant best to fingertip over a rasping shot from the dangerous McBride. Derry introduced 3 substitutes in the 59th minute in order to add fresh legs and this seemed to work as they began to regain more control of the ball.
Shane Duffy replaced the outstanding Kelly in the 63rd minute. The game became a little bit scrappy from this point on as both sides emptied the benches. Derry did pull a goal back in the 73rd minute when they broke on their left side and when the ball was delivered in by Dillon Devine, McBride made no mistake from 10 yards. The “Partners” had to weather the storm for the remaining minutes but they displayed a tremendous spirit as they fought for every ball and covered every blade of grass in order to hold onto their lead and to progress into the next round of the competition where they will face Drogheda United next Saturday 22nd October with a 2pm kick off in Gortakeegan, Monaghan