Martin Moloney Shield Quarter final.
Old Fort Celtic FC 4 1 Castle Villa AFC
Experience, strength, skill and clinicalness were to the fore for Old Fort Celtic as they triumphed over an under strength Castle Villa in the quarter final of the Martin Moloney Shield in Portlaoise on Sunday morning. But despite the scoreline, Villa can certainly hold their heads high, as it was only really in the last few minutes that the game was put beyond doubt.
Old Fort did start brightly and took the lead after four minutes when a free kick on their left was brilliantly swung in and found it way to Barry Ging who finished emphatically to the back of Calum Corrigan's net to put the home side one up. The next big chance in the game fell to Villa's Garry Curran and he skied his effort from ten yards out. Villa were struggling to make an impression in the middle of the field, and an Old Fort corner caused trouble in the area but an excellent block from Nathan Connolly was followed up with a simply unbelievable clearance from stand in centre back Conor Mullen to keep the score at 1-0.
Villa were sickened after fourteen minutes when the home keeper made two excellent saves from Garry Curran and James Clifford, and a counter attack saw a long diagonal played to their right winger, who coolly played the ball into the path of Daryl Nutumba who finished past Corrigan to double his sides lead.
Villa's Emmet Gibbons was pushing his midfield colleagues higher up the pitch and this certainly had the desired effect as Villa then began to get a foothold in the game and were arguable the better team for the next thirty minutes. Eric Lyons driving runs from midfield, both in and out of possession, was causing real problems for Old Fort and one of these forays resulted in another good chance for Curran but the keeper got down well to save. Villa had a goal disallowed on the half hour mark when that man Curran was adjudged to have been offside by referee Martin Hickey, but it seemed to give real belief to the Castledermot men that they could get back into the game. And that belief was realised when Danny Murphy played a lovely ball in to Lyons, who picked out Curran with a deliciously disguised pass and Curran made no mistake with the finish to halve the deficit.
The home team were still threatening with their number 7 being to the fore and a minute before the half time whistle, Villa's Killian Curry had to be aware to beat Nutumba to the ball to concede a corner.
The second half was relatively evenly balanced with Old Fort probably shading it on the possession stakes, and Villa looking to hit on the counter, utilising the pace of James Clifford and Eric Lyons. Villa introduced Aaron Brennan for goal scorer Curran after an hour as an early bang was beginning to hamper his mobility, but it presented Old Fort with a different type of problem as Brennan's energetic style and surging runs were proving effective.
However, the game was effectively decided on sixty six minutes when a really strong run by the OFC midfielder wasn’t tracked by the tiring Villa men, and a great pass played in their player to slide home despite Eoin Tynan's best efforts. Villa to their credit never stopped, and the resilience of this young side is to be commended. Clifford played a great ball into the path of Eric Lyons who had moved up front, and the keeper did well to close him down. A couple of minutes later, Aaron Brennan had a glorious chance to get Villa back in the game after the best pass of the day from Cian Murphy, but he dragged his shot wide, and at the other end Calum Corrigan made another excellent save.
Old Fort were finishing strongly and they got their fourth when Nutumbu was forced wide after receiving another excellent through ball, Villa must certainly thought the danger was averted, but he drilled the ball home from the narrowest of angles to drive a stake to the heart of Villa hopes and claim his sides place in the semi final of the competition.
Villa will take heart from a decent performance against an excellent side who were well drilled and well organised, but Old Fort deservedly progressed and they were certainly good value for their win.
Best for Villa were Calum Corrigan, Killian Curry, Nathan Connolly, Eoin Tynan, Conor Mullen, Emmet Gibbons, Eric Lyons, Cian Murphy, Garry Curran(Aaron Brennan 61'), Danny Murphy, James Clifford. Best on the day for the winners were Lee Carroll Talbot and Daryl Ntumba but Carrol Talbot just nicks man of the match for his tireless work rate at right back.