Aisling Annacotty advance to the last sixteen of the FAI Junior Cup as a late Aaron Murphy header broke Newport Town AFC hearts in a high energy, competitive encounter in Annacotty. Hawkeye Sidekick was in attendance and reports on a 2-1 triumph for the Limerick District League Premier Division outfit.
As soon as the draw was made in early December, this fixture stood out for anyone in the Midwest. Aisling advanced to the last thirty-two of this competition with an excellent 4-0 win over Blarney Celtic on the road. Newport Town AFC who play in the Limerick District League 1B advanced to this stage of the competition courtesy of a nail biting penalty shootout win over Carbery (Sligo) at home.
The form book suggested that Aisling Annacotty would have too much quality for Newport Town AFC but the romance of the cup never dies and the 1B outfit set about their task from the first whistle with organization, determination and skill. The Tipperary outfit were the dominant side for the opening exchanges; winning the second balls and with the ever dangerous Christy Doyle upfront posed a threat for the hosts defense.
Davy Ryan on the flank for Newport Town AFC had a strong opening and his link up play setup Doyle for the first chance of the game on eighteen. Doyle’s rasping drive brilliantly kept out by the Aisling Annacotty net minder. Newport Town AFC were compact and creating further chances as Doyle again tested the home defense with a header on thirty minutes.
A good start from the visitors was undone on thirty-three minutes as Aisling Annacotty took the lead with their first realistic chance of the game. Good work down the left flank caused chaos in the Newport defense, the ball was cleared but the second ball was headed back towards goal where Jason Lipper was on hand to nail home taking advantage of lack of defensive tracking from Newport. The finish was tidy, little time to set himself as Jimmy Fyffe came quickly out of his goal but the header was decisive. 1-0 Aisling.
A local derby was always going to see some cards issued by the man in the middle and so they duly came. The most significant of those yellow cards was on 37 minutes when Christy Doyle was given a yellow for cheekily heading the ball out of the Aisling keeper’s hands and putting it in the net. That card would become a key talking point as the game wore on.
Newport Town AFC buoyed by a strong away support responded well and more good play down the right flank nearly saw the Tipperary side win a penalty. Doyle brought down just outside the edge of the box, the subsequent free kick was saved but the threat from the visitors was still abundant to the locals in attendance. Half-time: 1-0.
The opening period was at times cagey with both sides content to sit back and see what the other side would do. The middle third was quite congested but the second half started with good tempo with both sides making encouraging attacking breaks. Half chances for both sides in the opening exchanges as the game was opening out.
Aisling Annacotty’s young side looking to hit Newport Town AFC on the break but the Tipperary side were dealing with the threat and duly equalized midway through the half. The goal was all about Davy Ryan as his incisive run into the box and lay off left Christy Doyle with the chance and the effort was emphatically placed to the right hand corner. 1-1. The away support roared with approval. Game on!
Heading into the last twenty minutes of the contest, it was a 50/50 contest. Aisling responding well to the concession of the goal and started to make advances to the Newport Town AFC goal. Cue the key incident of the game. Christy Doyle who was ever dangerous for Newport Town slid into a tackle and with a yellow card already to his name, he needed to get the tackle spot on. Unfortunately for Newport Town AFC, he was slightly late and the match officials after taking time to consider their decision issued a second yellow card. Newport Town AFC down to ten players. Advantage very much with Aisling Annacotty.
The player advantage initially did not hinder Newport Town AFC as the O’Sullivan brothers continued to take the fight to their opponent with some lung bursting runs from deep. The 1B side were continuing to make the tackles and their defense were well organized until five minutes from time when Aisling Annacotty struck the front.
Newport Town AFC will reflect on how the goal was conceded. A cross from the right flank was delivered just in front of the defense and goalkeeper. It forced Newport Town AFC defensively to make a decision. Jimmy Fyffe made the call to come out but was just beaten to the ball by Aaron Murphy who headed superbly into the net. Cue home celebrations! 2-1 Aisling.
A devastating goal to concede. The 1B side punished again for another defensive lapse. The fine margins in a cup tie highlighted by the goal. Newport Town AFC tried to respond and only for a last ditch tackle from Aisling Annacotty, an equalizer could have been scored. On the other side, Aisling could have scored a third only for a smart save from Jimmy Fyffe as Newport Town AFC went for broke.
The final whistle was greeted with relief by Aisling Annacotty. Their young side had won, the performance at times lacked composure but their resiliency to keep in the contest and wait for their opportunities was impressive. Jason Lipper, Brian Butler, Aaron Murphy stood out at different intervals. A key win for the side whose young age profile bodes well for the future.
Newport Town AFC were a credit to their division. The 1B side performed superbly well and belied their league divisional status. They matched their Premier Division opposition for long periods and to a man played with work rate, determination and attacking menace. The red card was a sickening blow and the game winner was cruel luck on the side who provided much to an exciting local derby.
Aisling Annacotty advance to the last sixteen. The facilities were first rate and the manner in which the club is been run and the future plans means that the Limerick club are primed for success on and off the pitch for years to come. This result will increase morale and confidence in this young group of players ahead of a busy Premier League calendar block.
Newport Town AFC romantic run ends in the FAI Junior Cup but the memories of this cup run will be remembered for years to come. The penalty shoot out win over Carbery a season highlight. Derryleigh Park is a fine venue and with the incredible support from Newport, the club’s future looks bright. The players in the side need to kick on now and secure 1B promotion. The season cannot die now. The travelling support was considerable and added plenty of atmosphere to the occasion.