Newtown Rangers head into their FAI Intermediate Cup last 16 tie with UCC in good form following a battling 2-2 draw against what manager Glenn Madden calls “the best team in the country”.
The Tallaght side were two goals down before half time against LSL Sunday Senior 1 leaders Maynooth University Town – who were looking for their fifth win on the bounce.
An own goal and an injury-time strike from substitute Anthony O’Rourke earned Newtown a point that Madden says was “what we deserved” for their performance over 90 minutes.
Cillian Duffy had put Maynooth in front midway through the first half as a good move saw the ball end up with Cillian Duffy on the left, and he turned his man and he smashed it into the corner.
Ten minutes later it was 2-0, as a slack pass out of the Newtown defence was picked off by striker Eoin McDermott and he took the ball to the edge of the box before chipping keeper Paddy Whelan.
Madden made adjustments at half time, with Anto Dolan moving centrally and O’Rourke coming off the bench, and the changes had the desired effect as they had 15 attempts in the second half.
They halved the deficit when a ball in from the right was turned into his own goal by full back Jake Corrigan.
And the comeback was complete in injury time as more play down the right hand side saw the ball moved back inside to O’Rourke, and he finished first time from the edge of the box to seal the draw.
“We were excellent,” Madden tells the Dublin Gazette.
“Even in the first half when we went 2-0 down, we were excellent. We knew what we’d get out of them.
“For me, they’re probably the best in the country at the minute and we made them look bang ordinary. We knew what we had to do against them and the boys followed what we told them.
“We knew they had a lot of strengths but we counteracted a lot of them, switched the team around slightly and got what we deserved and, if I’m honest I think we deserved a bit more.”
Attention now turns to Farrell Park on Sunday, where Newtown host another university side with a spot in the quarter-finals of the Intermediate Cup at stake.
Newtown played another Cork side, Ringmahon Rangers, in the previous round and eventually won out on a replay following a scoreless draw in Cork.
Home advantage was key on that occasion and Madden feels knowledge of their home pitch in Kiltipper could tip the balance – literally – in their favour.
“Our pitch isn’t the levellest – it’s a bit of a slant – so straight away that will be in our heads. We know how to play our game on our pitch and it takes other teams a little bit longer.
“They’re very similar to Ringmahon from the information we’ve got. They are a typical college team that will want to play football. They’re young and they’re energetic.
“We know how we’re going to play and what way to counter them and, if we bring last Sunday’s performance through to Sunday, I know we’ll get a result.”