Penalties preparation pays off

by Stephen Findlater

COLLINSTOWN boss Kevin Carroll said that his club’s first ever penalties training session provided his side with a key boost last Sunday as the Clondalkin club reached the quarter-finals with a hard fought victory over Mervue United.

It saw Collinstown through to the quarter-final of the FAI Junior Cup – Europe’s largest cup competition – for the very first time.

They drew 0-0 in normal time before winning 4-3 in a shoot-out, seeing them through to yet another huge day out in March.

Speaking to GazetteSport about the win, Carroll said afterwards that “the whole community was overwhelmed by the result” and felt that his side put in the work-rate to execute the right gameplan to succeed.

“It wasn’t that great a match and both teams sort of cancelled each other out and there weren’t many chances. But when you get to that stage of the cup, there’s no room for error; it was that tight. But the result is what we want and it is great to get into the quarter-final.

“We watched them a few weeks ago and knew most of their players had played League of Ireland Division 1. We had ear-marked their good players and we didn’t give them a chance to settle on the ball or get their passing game going.

“It disrupted them and left them feeding on scraps. We stopped them playing and the longer it went on, we grew in confidence. They did dominate for 10 or 15 minutes in the second half but we weathered that storm and got on top when they were tired.”

For the most part, chances came from distance with the pick of the efforts from Seamus Crowe brilliantly denied by Ross Costigan who pushed it on to the crossbar.

It led to penalties, something that Collinstown had, in a break from previous years, prepared for on the Friday night prior to the game.

“For the first time since the club got together, we pulled 10 players in to practise penalties just in case. When it came to it, we knew who would be taking ours and the goalkeeper had practised hard so we had an inkling of what we were going to do.

“It paid dividends. In the cups in the AUL, we play to win but, because it was such a big game and we knew it was going to be tight, we had to cover every option.”

That preparation was typified by the introduction of Michael Scully as a sub for Jamie Goonery with less than 10 seconds remaining.

He came off the bench to calmly net his side’s fourth penalty with his first touch of the game, showing a coolness that many others may not have been able to muster in the pressure situation.

Looking forward now, Carroll is hopeful of a home draw when the line-up for the quarter-finals is laid out.

“I’d like to stay away from Sherriff and St Michael’s of Tipperary. They are very strong. Otherwise, I would fancy ourselves at home against anyone else because we have beaten the best of the Limerick and Galway teams already.”

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