Munster Junior Cup Round Of 16
Thurles Town 0
Pike Rovers 2
John Connery 17′
Cian Collins 49′
Pike Rovers booked a trip to Ballinroad in the Quarter Finals of the Munster Junior Cup following a comfortable win over North Tipperary side Thurles Town thanks to goals from John Connert and Cian Collins.
In a game that started slowly it would be the away side that would dominate proceedings throughout and on the second minute Shane Waugh was offered a sighter from twenty yards but it was off target. Rovers would dominate possession and on seventeen minutes Cian Collins snuck past Aaron Ryan and his shot was saved well by Loughman. The resulting corner caused mayhem in the box and the ball found its way to John Connery and his shot beat Loughman in the Thurles goal via a deflection to put the visitors into a deserved lead.
Town tried to battle back and just five minutes later Eoghan Vaughan tried an audacious lob after good work from Paul Kirwan but the ball sailed harmlessly over. Town thought they’d equalised moments later when a Martin Darmody free seen Gary Neville come some sixteen yards from his goal line and Kirwan got their before him and his header was stopped on the line by the well positioned Waugh.
Thurles struggled to break through the Rovers defence with Patrick Mullins in particular playing outstanding at centre half. Pike would continue to press and but for Loughman in the goal they could have been out of sight by half time, on the thirty first minute Aaron Nunan ran through on goal but the talented stopper forced him wide to keep his side in the game. Only a minute later Waugh did brilliantly down the left and his deft pass into Collins wad immaculate and the resulting shot was saved excellently by Loughman again.
Collins found himself through on goal against on the forty first minute and again found Loughman to be a barrier to big as he saved brilliantly again but the striker will feel as though he should have scored. One nil at half time and Noel Byrne would feel as though his side were lucky to be still in the game.
The second half started on a bright not for the home side when Paraic Fogarty put Vaughan through with a fine pass and the youngster shot too high when really he should have scored. Town would be made rue that miss when on forty nine minutes Connery flicked on a high ball to Collins and this time he made no mistake as he rounded Loughman and rolled the ball into the empty net to double his sides lead.
The half would continue in this vein with Pike pushing and looking ever so comfortable at the back but Town got a rare opportunity on seventy six minutes when a great cross from Aidan Keenan found Kirwan but he headered wide of the target. Pike should have ended the game as a contest with ten minutes to go when Steven McGann beat the offside trap only to drag his shot wide of the target.
Town did finish the game on the front foot and found themselves very unlucky on two accessions in the final minutes when first of all another Darmody free kick found Kirwan who got there ahead of Neville but his effort rebounded off the post. Town will feel like they should have had a penalty in the last minute when Ted O’Connor put Kirwan through and he again got there before Neville and as he poked the ball past the keeper it looked as though he was fouled but the referee instead signalled for a free out, a decision that left man my at the Greyhound Stadium bewildered.
A solid performance from the Limerick giants who throughout this game looked too strong for Thurles. Eoghan Vaughan was again at his best for the home side and played excellently up to being substitute for what could only have been an injury. Martin Darmody again impressed as he finds himself back in the starting eleven but Town’s best player was Loughman in the goal which is testament to Pikes dominance. Pike looked sharp and dangerous all over the field with Connery and Collins a constant threat up front, Waugh and Hanrahan in midfield were also in great form but the stoppagetime.ie Man Of The Match award goes to Patrick Mullins, his tackling and aerial ability was nothing short of immense as was his organisation and calmness under pressure, rightly regarded as one of the best centre halves at Junior level in the country.