BOOTH Road Celtic’s FAI Junior Cup run came to an end after an injury time goal saw them lose 2-1 to Regional United in the sixth round of the competition at Corkagh Park.
Their conquerors from Limerick were one of the favourites for the cup at the beginning but they met a Celtic side that looked hungry for an upset.
In fact, where it not for a gravity-defying clearance off the line from Dave Cowpar, then it may well have been the Clondalkin side whose name went into the hat for the next round.
The hosts did well to prevent the opposition from building through the midfield during the first half but it was easy to see how dangerous they were and they took the lead after a little over 30 minutes had passed.
Some lax defending from the LSL Major 1B Saturday side saw Cowpar rise unchallenged to head home a corner from eight yards out and give the visitors the lead.
Their advantage was almost doubled a minute later when Shane Doherty got put through on goal only to be denied by Gary Cleary in the Celtic goal.
Celtic had a couple of chances of their own before the break but Shane Merrigan and Philip Sheppard both failed to find the target.
With both sides failing to create much at the beginning of the second half, Celtic manager Ian Maher made the surprising decision to remove Merrigan and bring on Mikey Collins.
It proved an inspired substitution, however, as Collins helped Celtic develop more of a foothold in the centre of the pitch.
They soon drew level when Sheppard was released through an excellent pass from midfield before taking the ball past the opposition defence and coolly firing home.
Celtic had grown into the game and with Sheppard continuing to cause problems, the home crowd started to anticipate a cup upset.
Veteran Sheppard had another opportunity to score but could only fire wide before chasing down a long ball and bursting past his markers.
He looked to have put his side ahead when he rolled the ball past an onrushing keeper but Cowpar somehow managed to get back and hook the ball away before it crossed the line.
Both teams played out the remainder of the half by searching for a winner but both were limited to just a couple of chances. The game looked destined for extra time until Stephen Keeley grabbed the winner.
A minute into injury time, Doherty took control of the ball on the edge of the box before poking a pass through to an unmarked Keeley who kept his head to find the back of the net and break Celtic hearts.

LEAVE A REPLY

Please enter your comment!
Please enter your name here