Roscrea Town pulled off the shock of the season as they ended Thurles Town’s Tipperary Cup dream after a 4-3 penalty shootout win in Villa Park. The game itself ended 2-2 with the home side for a time playing with just nine men.
The game started at a blistering pace and Roscrea found themselves in front in the fourth minute when John Pio Fitzpatrick’s header realeased Craig Phelan down the right and his inch perfect cross found Tom Ahern and he headed home despite Loughman getting a big hand on the ball. It only took Thurles forty seconds to reply when Micheal Foley got space in the centre and his fierce shot from twenty five yards somehow managed to beat Roddy Teehan in the Roscrea goal.
The game began to fall to the poor playing surface as both sides played the long ball perhaps to often but it would work to Roscrea’s favour on twenty five minutes when a Brian Franks free kick found Phelan and he squared it to Fitzpatrick who in turn slotted the ball home from eight yards to put his side back in front.
The game continued in the vein and Roscrea could have doubled their lead on forty three minutes when a Brian Franks effort was saved well by Loughman and the home side went into half time a goal to the good.
The second half started with Thurles on the front foot and a fabulous through ball from Paul Kirwan found the impressive Foley and his ball across the box was met by Barry Ryan but his shot went over the bar. Thurles had a lucky escape three minutes later when a poor defensive header seen Fitzpatrick through on goal but again Loughman was up to the task and he saved well down to his right.
Thurles continued to probe from here and but for some last ditch tackling from John Cordial and Ray McNicholas Roscrea might have found themselves in trouble. Kirwan got his big chance with twenty minutes remaining when a Darmody corner found him free in the area and his right foot drive was brilliantly saved by Teehan.
Thurles finally equalized fifteen minutes from time when another dangerous corner was pushed onto the post by Teehan but Barry Ryan was on hand to stab the ball home for his thirty second goal of the season and bring his side back level.
The game would end this way with the majority of possession being with Thurles but they couldn’t turn it into goals. Extra time began with Roscrea down to ten men as Tom Ahern had to go off injured with no substitutes available. Things would go from bad to worse as Brian Franks had to leave the field for several minutes due to injury but Roscrea battled hard and got into half time level. Franks returned for the second half and again Thurles dominated possession but found it difficult to create any real chances and penalties would be needed to separate the sides.
Roscrea would win this by four goals to three much to the delight of the home side and fans. Roscrea now face Nenagh Celtic in the semi finals whilst Roscrea B also play in the smi finals against Holcross Fc.
In a game that lacked much passing movement the man of the match was again hard to pick. Micheal Foley stood out for Thurles and battled hard throughout but the stoppagetime.ie man of the match goes to Brian Franks, he gave everything and much more for the whole game and returned to the field of play despite being injured and confidently tucked away the winning penalty.
Roscrea deserve all the plaudits that will surely follow this game having struggled to field a team on some occasions this season, this however will hopefully show the players that anything could happen with courage and commitment.