Darren Craven led by example as Malahide United reached the quarter-finals of the FAI Intermediate Cup thanks to the captain’s second-half strike away to Home Farm.
The midfielder got on the end of a move involving substitutes Jordi Ebanda and Rob Duggan, who had only been on the field a matter of seconds, to seal a 1-0 win.
It brought to an end a frantic 30 seconds after Home Farm midfielder Eoin Murray had missed a penalty, denied by the hand of keeper Dylan McNulty.
Malahide manager Ger Coughlan took the gamble of introducing Ebanda, Duggan and Gareth Craven before the penalty was taken and his decision paid off immediately.
After McNulty had palmed away Murray’s spot-kick, Malahide broke immediately up the other end through the former Dundalk striker Ebanda.
He picked out Murray in the centre, and he teed up his captain for a well-taken side-footed finish into the net, which proved to be the only goal.
“It was a bit of a mad one,” Craven admitted to Dublin Gazette.
“Dylan saved a peno and then it was up the other end and nice to nick it. To be fair to them, they’re a good side. You’re worrying and think you’re under pressure, but it swung on a big moment.
“They’re a good side and I think they’ll probably come up this year. They’re flying in the league below us. It was a good battle.”
The introduction of the three substitutes proved key, and Craven revealed that the dramatic intervention is a favoured tactic of manager Coughlan.
“He likes that, the triple sub. He does that every game. He’s brave and happy enough to throw them on.”
The team’s success on the field means that, in all likelihood, the remainder of the season will be hectic for Malahide with two games a week a regular occurrence.
Having already booked their spot in the FAI Senior Cup first round, Malahide are hoping for a tie with a League of Ireland side.
Their immediate focus remains on the league (they’re a point behind 2013/14 winners St Mochta’s after 13 games) and the next round of the cup.
Craven admits he doesn’t care who they draw in the next round as the north Dublin club are confident they can beat anyone on their day.
“No, not at all. We’ll take anyone. We’ll just keep the winning going. We have 20 players so we’re happy enough.
“We don’t mind playing two games a week. It’s probably gone a little bit better [than we expected]. We’re ten or 11 games unbeaten now so we’re doing really well.”