Kilmore exit cup following penalty shoot-out

Kilmore exit cup following penalty shoot-out

1 December 2021

KILMORE Rec exited the Irish Cup after a frustrating performance resulted in a penalty shootout going in favour of Premier Division opponents Islandmagee.

Despite the Antrim side being reduced to ten men within the first 90 minutes and Kilmore enjoying a large majority of possession for the duration of the contest, Michael Carvill’s men just couldn’t take advantage of their opportunities. 

On a bitterly cold but windless Saturday afternoon, Kilmore kicked off the match and began sharply, although they would have to wait until the ninth minute for their first chance at goal with John McCarthy seeing his effort go wide from range.

Blues striker Anton McGrattan was making himself known on the pitch, tracking back from the forward line and helping out his midfield to win possession of the ball early on.

Kilmore were given an early warning side that things may not go their way when captain Jack Larkin signalled to his management team that his hamstring seemed to be giving him bother.

Nevertheless, the skipper carried on, but it was clear to the spectators that he may need further attention.

With just over a quarter of an hour played it seemed to be one way traffic in favour of Kilmore, with Islandmagee content to soak up the pressure and wait for their opportunity to launch a counter attack.

Christopher Magee was linking well with Joshua Smyth for Kilmore down the right hand side of the pitch, although the opposition managed to any keep goal scoring chances to a minimum. 

With 20 minutes played, Islandmagee found themselves with a rare chance at goal but midfielder Nicholas Baird could only scoop his effort high above the crossbar.

Things started to heat up as referee Colin Gray was forced to tell both sides to cool down their aggressive nature when tackling.

Kilmore defender Gary Kennedy saw his effort from the edge of the box collected gracefully by Island ‘keeper Elliot English before Blues skipper Larkin committed an eye-catching last ditch tackle to thwart the attack of Baird at the other end.

However, this tackle added to Larkin’s earlier injury concerns as he yet again required treatment from the sideline.

Soon after, Larkin eventually succumbed to his injury and was forced to leave the pitch permanently in what was a sobering blow for Kilmore.

The bright side for the Blues was that he was being replaced by Joseph McKinney, who added another element to his side’s overall game.

Soon after, Islandmagee’s Gary Workman crashed his free-kick off the Kilmore wall before his team-mate Samuel Knox fired the rebound high and wide in what was the last significant action of the half.

Not much had changed in terms of strategy as the teams returned to the pitch for the beginning of the second 45 minutes, with Kilmore continuing to flank their opponents as Islandmagee sat back in their own half.

The Blues decided to shake things up a bit with the introduction of attackers Patrick Grant and John Patterson before Islandmagee’s Alexander Hawthorne picked up a yellow card for a late challenge.

A disastrous kick-out from Island ‘keeper English fell straight to the feet of Grant, although he failed to sort out his feet in time and saw his effort tamely fall back into the possession of the grateful number one.

Just minutes later, in what was a case of déjà vu, English remarkably repeated the same mistake and kicked the ball directly to the feet of Grant.

This time the Kilmore striker was able to control the ball and unleash a shot at goal. However, English’s diving save kept the score level.

With 83 minutes played, Islandmagee were awarded a rare corner kick that they floated into the danger area, causing a goalmouth scramble to ensue. 

Fortunately for Kilmore, they managed to survive this scare and sent the ball back up the pitch before Island’s Workman saw his name enter the referee’s book for an untimely tackle.

With extra-time looming, Kilmore began throwing everything at their counterparts, with substitute McKinney continuing to push for the goal that would send his side through to the next round.

Despite a few wayward efforts, Kilmore remained undeterred and were given a further lift when Island’s Hawthorne put in a questionable challenge on McKinney that saw him see yellow for the second time.

Referee Gray ignored the midfielder’s pleas and produced the red card with a minute of regulation time to play.

As the whistle sounded, it seemed Kilmore were now the favoured side to come away with a win as they remained with 11 players on the pitch.

However, less than five minutes into the first period of extra-time, Islandmagee would finally open the scoring.

Following a long punt up the pitch, Island winger Andrew Paisley engaged in a footrace with Kilmore ‘keeper Christopher Turley, as the custodian chose to leave his box in an attempt to clear the ball.

Paisley got the vital first touch to round the ‘keeper and shoot into the open net, despite the efforts of Gary Kennedy, whose surging run back narrowly missed clearing the shot that resulted in a goal.

This seemed to momentarily stun Kilmore and soon the visitors were in again as substitute Joel McMurtry found himself in a one-on-one situation with Turley.

The Blues ‘keeper did enough to close down the angle and force a rushed effort that McMurtry sent wide.

Kilmore knew they were against the clock now as they entered the final 15 minutes of the contest upon the restart.

With the Kilmore supporters acting as a 12th man, the Blues kept plugging away and committing bodies forward before eventually getting their reward.

A high ball into the box was adjudged to have struck Islandmagee’s Paul Thompson’s hand, leaving referee Gray with no option but to award a penalty.

Kilmore’s McGrattan coolly stepped up to send ‘keeper English the wrong way, bringing the tie level and eventually to a penalty shootout.

Despite a brace of wonderful saves from Kilmore’s Turley, two penalty misses from the Blues resulted in the shootout going to sudden death where Islandmagee would hold their nerve to gain a dramatic Irish Cup win.

Kilmore: C Turley, C Magee, J Larkin (capt), G Kennedy, M Stewart, C Gemmell, J Smyth, J McCarthy, A McCartan, A McGrattan, C Conlon.

Subs: S Bell, J McKinney, P Grant, J Patterson, M Carvill.

Islandmagee: E English, C Monteith, S Knox, A Anderson (capt), D McCreery, N Baird, G Workman, A Hawthorne, P Thompson, A Thomas, S Armour.

Subs: J McMurtry, J Stirling, A Paisley, D Kernohan.

Yellow cards: G Workman, A Hawthorne (x2).

Red cards: A Hawthorne.

Corners: Kilmore 7, Islandmagee 3.

Offsides: Kilmore 1, Islandmagee 2.

Referee: Colin Gray.