County Londonderry progressed to the final of the Dale Farm Bowl at the expense of North Dublin after a 1-1 draw and a dramatic 4-2 penalty shoot-out victory.
Both teams were evenly matched throughout the first half, showing defensive discipline and attacking endeavour in equal measure. Caolan McBrearty skied over the bar in the game’s first opportunity and a cross from North Dublin captain Jordan Maguire was cut out before Katlego Mashigo could get a shot away. It was the team from Dublin who opened the scoring- Yassine-En-Neyah slipped in the lively Mashigo to finish calmly past Shane Wallace.
The chances continued to flow in the first half. For Londonderry, a free-kick from McBrearty almost drifted into the net and Eamon McLaughlin fired high over the bar. North Dublin’s Mashigo smashed a half-volley off target, a powerful long ranger from Sam Nugent failed to trouble Wallace and William Hondermarke tried his luck with a side foot from distance after a lay-off.
Londonderry decided to switch things around at half-time with a triple substitution but it nearly back-fired as Dublin’s Maguire had a strong penalty appeal turned down by the referee not long after the second half got underway. North Dublin had another chance as Sean Peat made a darting run to the back post but he failed to steer his header at goal.
Londonderry began to settle as the half reached the midway point. Jack McLaughlin got under his shot too much and Andrew Whiteside forced a tremendous reflex save from Liam Woodcock. Londonderry finally got the equaliser they deserved and it was one of their half-time substitutes who scored it. Number 9 Stephen McCoigan showed fantastic chest control to pluck the ball out of the air, swivel around and caress the dropping ball over the despairing leap of the keeper. The goal certainly seemed to give the Northern Irish side more confidence and Jack Malone had two decent efforts stopped by Woodcock, one of them a free header which should have found the net. Both sides pushed for a winner in the closing stages but the game was destined for a shoot-out.
North Dublin won the toss and took the first penalty. Jamie Coyne stepped up and sent the keeper the wrong way with a well-taken kick. McBrearty then missed his spot-kick for Londonderry but he was ordered to retake and made no mistake the second time. Maguire then missed for North Dublin to give Londonderry the advantage. Ian Maxwell (Londonderry), David Mugalu (North Dublin) and McCoigan (Londonderry) all scored their penalties before Nugent’s effort was saved, providing Caolan Coyle with the responsibility of sending Londonderry into the Bowl final. He converted with ease, meaning the county team will take on GPS Bayern in Portstewart tomorrow.
Match Report by Craig Latimer