VETERAN goalkeeper Eddie Hickey emerged as the penalty shoot-out hero for Fairview Rangers as the Limerick outfit captured the Umbro FAI Junior Cup for a record eighth time yesterday.
Hickey made his decisive intervention by saving the first St Michael’s penalty at sun-drenched Turner’s Cross as the game was decided on spot kicks after 120 goal-less minutes.
Midfielder Trevor Cosgrave, who ironically won an FAI Junior Cup with Fairview in 2004, was the unfortunate player to miss in the shoot-out as Hickey dived to his left and made a comfortable save.
That miss handed Fairview the initiative and they went on to clinch a 5-3 win as skipper Brian Buckley, Colm Heffernan, Willie O’Brien, Ross Cosgrave and finally Mike Ryan slammed home successful efforts.
Hickey admitted: “I feel sorry for St Michael’s – they’re knocking on the door a long time now but there’s no way I was going to lose this. It’s probably the last time I’ll play a game of football and it’s nice to bow out with an FAI Junior Cup medal.”
Hickey, who smiled that he will soon be playing over-40s soccer, added: “I played eight years in the League of Ireland.
“I played for Limerick with (Fairview manager) Jason Purcell for a few years. He rang me up last September. Our other goalkeeper, Rob Crowley, was away for a few weeks. I said I’d give a hand out for two weeks but two weeks turned into ten months!”
Hickey’s heroics helped Fairview clinch the Umbro FAI junior cup for the first time since 2004 as they also became the first club to win both the FAI Junior and Youth cups in the same season.
Tipperary side St Michael’s, winners of the FAI Junior cup in 1974, were left with tears for souvenirs after losing previous finals in 2000 and 2002, the latter also against Fairview.
Republic of Ireland junior international captain James Walsh was named as man-of-the-match following an imperious display at centre back but that was of scant consolation to the 33-year-old.
Walsh has won every other major honour in the game and holds the record for junior international caps but the FAI Junior Cup continues to elude him.
Fairview Rangers were a thorn in the side of Walsh and St Michael’s again as they continued their remarkable record in finals, having now won eight out of eight.
And this latest success sends them one clear of Dublin club Cherry Orchard in the all-time competition standings.
But ultimately, St Michael’s will feel they let this one pass them by after creating the better chances throughout.
Midfield general Davy Walsh, another survivor from those previous final defeats in 2000 and 2002, saw an early header tipped over the crossbar by Hickey before Timmy Kiely blazed narrowly over in the 15th minute.
Ryan came close again seven minutes before the break as his scuffed shot dribbled just wide of Hickey’s left hand post with the keeper scrambling across.
In the 67th minute, St Michael’s had another glorious chance to break the deadlock but after he was put through by Ryan, striker Pa Quinn’s shot was saved by Hickey.
The introduction of Ross Cosgrave pitted the Fairview players against cousin Trevor in midfield and Cosgrave was at the heart of Fairview’s best move in the 69th minute before Walsh superbly blocked Darren O’Sullivan’s drive. Quinn had the ball in the net with 15 minutes of normal time remaining but the goal was flagged offside before Kiely forced a smart save from Hickey down to his left.
The game appeared destined for extra-time but Quinn had another half chance to win it deep in stoppage time as he drilled a half volley straight at Hickey from eight yards.
Two extra periods of 10 minutes failed to separate the sides as Ross Cosgrave came closest to a winner before the lottery of penalties.
Meanwhile, in the Munster Junior Cup final, Carrick United beat cross-border rivals Clonmel Town with a 2-0 victory which was sealed in extra-time at Cahir on Saturday evening.
Carrick had played the better football during normal time but it wasn’t until the first period of extra-time that they broke the deadlock thanks to well-executed strike from sub Eoin Burke. The Waterford Premier League champions then sealed it thanks to Glen Keane’s goal after Alan Cody’s pinpoint cross from the right.
FAIRVIEW RANGERS: E Hickey, M Ryan, P Harman, M Neary, B Buckley, W O’Brien, T Barrett (R Cosgrave, 64), C Heffernan, D O’Sullivan, J Grant (J Travis, 78), C Doyle (P Danagher, 94).
ST MICHAEL’S: D Breen, P Tobin, C Higgins, P Breen, J Walsh, T Cosgrave, D O’Brien (J Connery, 51), D Ryan, P Quinn, T Fahey, T Kiely (P Kennedy, 119).
Referee: Finbar Murphy (Cork).
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