Enniskillen Town United celebrated Saint George’s Day as they progressed to the 2013/14 Mulhern Cup Final courtesy of a 2-1 victory over North Fermanagh Club Kesh at Ferney Park on Wednesday last.
Russell Wheeler’s Cub’s injury time winner means that Town will now enjoy the honour of “being presented to Mark Conway” for a third consecutive season.
Enniskillen Town United celebrated Saint George’s Day as they progressed to the 2013/14 Mulhern Cup Final courtesy of a 2-1 victory over North Fermanagh Club Kesh at Ferney Park on Wednesday last. Russell Wheeler’s Cub’s injury time winner means that Town will now enjoy the honour of “being presented to Mark Conway” for a third consecutive season.
Niall Amos’ NFC Kesh side entered the match on the back of an unbeaten domestic campaign that had seen them go an incredible twenty-four League and Cup games without defeat. The tie was to prove a bridge too far as Town dominated every aspect of the game from the thirteenth second right through to the ninety-fourth minute.
Town Boss Rory Judge was forced to shuffle the pack with regular right-back Matthew Chambers missing out through injury and veteran attacker Gary Beckett only deemed fit enough for a place on the bench. Judge and Emmet Carty responded with an adventurous 3-5-2 formation that placed Frank Wallace and Ryan Hanna in the unfamiliar roles of wing backs.
As previously alluded to, there was a mere twelve seconds on the clock before “The Invincibles” breached the Town rearguard. A quick kick-off was worked out to Nicky Noble who crossed into the Town box. Kelvin McElroy provided a close range finish.
Suitably stunned, Town responded in positive fashion. Kesh full back, David Fitzpatrick, was at full stretch to divert a Ciaran Brough centre while keeper Andrew Nevin snatched the ball off Town skipper Matthew McAuley’s head following a Paul Crane cross. Wallace fired a hopeful effort over and Nevin was again alert to deny Gary Lynch after a Stephen Clarke through ball.
A solitary North Fermanagh Club attack ended with Conor Tummon blocking Mark Jones effort. Pat Cadden saved his rebound. Nicky Dunbar should have done better with a well placed free before Brough headed wide from a Hanna corner. The young striker was a constant menace and he again went close following on from some good build up from Lynch and McAuley. He was soon to turn provider – a dangerous run and cross failed to find a finish as “The Invincibles” made it twenty-four and a half games unbeaten.
Sixty seconds after the break and Town were back on level terms. Hanna won a crunching tackle before releasing Wallace. Nevin could only parry his low centre and Clarke was on hand to provide the finish. It could very nearly have been two, Hanna again feeding Wallace with Clarke much better placed.
Town’s turn to breath a sigh of relief now. Referee, Barry Monaghan, turning down strong penalty appeals after Dunbar appeared to fell a Kesh attacker on the edge of the area. A Lee Walker run and centre asked more questions of the Town defence. Tummon scooped his effort wide.
Young Brough was soon at it again, embarking on another direct run, rounding Nevin and shooting from the acutest of angles. Fitzpatrick denied him on the goal line. Wallace and substitute Beckett then combined to release McAuley. He screwed his effort wide as Town continued to dominate the possession stakes against their “Mourinhoesque” opponents. Prozone and all manner of Sky Sports Statistics have yet to make it to the Fermanagh and Western and likely never will (Impartial Reporter Television is as good as it’s ever likely to be) but a conservative estimate of the possession statistics would surely have put Town at upwards of seventy percent.
A Kesh break ended at the feet of Noble. He fired wide with “The Invincibles” last chance of the game. Sixty-four minutes and “Enter Sandman,” as quarter-final hero RWC entered the fray in place of Brough. It had been a superb hour’s work on his long awaited return to first team action and he left the pitch to a deserved standing ovation (well everybody apart from those in the seated stand).
A foul on Hanna resulted in a Town free on the edge of the area. Beckett crashed a thunderous effort that beat everybody apart from the inside off the post before bouncing across the goal line and harmlessly wide. Beckett went close with another effort as Town engineered a quick break from a Kesh corner. Next chance saw Beckett release Wallace who rounded Nevin before firing his effort wide to loud hoots of derision from the North Fermanagh Club support.
No such persiflage on ninety-one minutes. Beckett unlocked the front door for Wallace. He crossed into a congested area and Russell Wheeler’s Cub was once again the hero of the half-hour as RWC pounced to down NFC, send Town to their third consecutive decider and ensure that that the dragon would not be slain.
Everybody has their twelve seconds of fame.
The Town: P Cadden, S Clarke, C Tummon, N Dunbar, D McQuade, P Crane, R Hanna, M McAuley, G Lynch, C Brough, F Wallace.
Subs – G Beckett for G Lynch (53), Russell Wheeler’s Cub for C Brough (64), S Chambers for Clarke (79).
Referee: Barry “Pepper” Monaghan – No complaints, whatsoever.
Attendance: Slightly disappointing, considering the occasion. Faces in the crowd included Brendan Lyons, who most learned observers will agree, was the “Star Man” in Town’s historic breakthrough Mulhern Cup triumph of 1990 and, Conor Smith, who in more recent times, lifted half the Mulhern Cup for Town.
Top Townie: Nicky Dunbar – Town’s majestic centre-half had absolutely no problem keeping up with the Jones’. Or the Nobles or the Walkers or the McElroys for that matter. His second consecutive “Top Townie” gong in Mulhern Cup semi-finals. Just for the record, Gary Beckett claimed the previous one in 2011/12.
Comedy Moment: Gary Beckett’s sixty-ninth minute free kick on the edge of “The D” couldn’t have been better placed for the wily gun slinger. With everybody in the ground anticipating his trademark thunderbolt, Kesh’s veteran centre-half, Alvin Anderson, for reasons still only known to himself (an apparition possibly?), loudly and forcibly decreed that, “He’s not shooting! He’s not shooting! He’s not shooting!” What exactly did you think he was going to do? Pass it back to Pat Cadden? Luckily for Alvin and his now duped team mates (but not the post), the aforementioned post came to their rescue. Anyhow, not to worry Alvin son, a lifetime of supporting Nottingham Forest can do that to a man’s brain!
“So You Did Son Moment”: Gary Beckett’s half-time screamer gave young keeper, Gary Doherty, absolutely no chance!
Words from a Song: Enter Sandman. http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=CD-E-LDc384
Manager Watch: Make no mistake, this was an impressive victory against a hitherto unbeaten NFC Kesh outfit. While much of the pre-match banter centred on the “step up in class”, I don’t buy that for one second. I’m a firm believer that winning, in any sport, is a habit and if a team has gone an entire season unbeaten, then it’s going to be a hard habit to break. (Under no circumstances will you be getting a Youtube link to that one. There are some lines I’m not prepared to cross!) Judge responded to the unavailability of key players with a bold and flexible formation and also employed an efficacious use of substitutes.
At the time of writing, Beragh Swifts have came through the other semi-final with a two-nil victory over Irish Junior Cup Finalists Lisbellaw United. The Tyrone side are, on current form, the best side in the Fermanagh and Western, with a run of victories to back it up. They will undoubtedly have exceptional support when they travel to Drumad for their first Mulhern Cup Final and also, go in search of their first major honour. It’s going to be a big, big “Ask” http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=zoo9Vu1a9bU of Town and a real test of Judge and Carty’s managerial abilities and, their side’s mettle.
Get behind the boys.