HOLDERS Sheriff YC are through to the quarter-finals of the FAI Junior Cup thanks to a penalty shoot-out win over Villa FC at the Clontarf Road all-weather pitches on Sunday afternoon.
Goalkeeper Lee Murphy was the hero for the third week straight as not only did he save one spot-kick, he also hammered home the winner to book the north inner city club’s passage to the last eight.
Evergreen Murphy, who only came out of retirement in recent weeks after hanging up his boots last summer, developed a reputation during his playing career as a penalty specialist at both ends.
Adept at saving and scoring spot-kicks, Murphy was the hero in the Leinster Junior Cup shootout triumph over Gorey Rangers two weeks ago, saving three and netting the decisive penalty.
And he reprised the role last weekend as Sheriff again fought back from behind to force penalties in the Liddy Cup against Kilbarrack, saving one and again slotting home the winning kick.
The Premier A leaders were made to slog for the latest victory as both Paul Murphy and Darren Dunne were dismissed just before half time for separate off-the-ball incidents – instilling tension into the home town fans.
It meant Sheriff played over 80 minutes with nine men, but a disciplined defensive performance ensured the Waterford side were restricted to few clear chances in spite of their greater numbers.
Neither side had created much of note before the sendings-off, but John Rock went close to giving junior football’s outstanding side the lead shortly after as his header flashed just wide.
There was little else of note for either side in the course of the next hour and 15 minutes as Sheriff scrapped for their lives and Villa struggled to make the extra space on the field count.
The nine men held out for extra time and then penalties, and manager Alan Reilly sprung not-so-secret weapon Murphy from the bench in place of starting keeper Mark Hatton two minutes from the end.
Villa shot one penalty over the bar and Murphy saved another, before the cult hero stepped up to dispatch the winning penalty as Sheriff landed all four of their spot-kicks to Villa’s one.
Sheriff will find out their opponents in the quarter-finals of the FAI Junior Cup when the draw is made at the association’s headquarters on Wednesday, February 15th.