U17 Soccer Carlow/KK Semi-final

Borris 2-2 Johnstown (3-4 After penalties)

Two evenly matched teams battled it out for 100 minutes in tricky conditions but in the end, Borris were unfortunate to lose this very even contest in Goresbridge. The match started off at a frenetic pace with Johnstown, eager to make up for their defeat to Borris in the U17 final last year, threatening early on. A couple of solid saves from Borris keeper Eoin Fenlon kept the scores at 0-0.

Borris gradually got into the swing of things and forced a corner in the 10th minute. A lovely curling ball into the box unsettled the Johnstown defence and afforded Ciaran Whelan the space to head the ball into the top corner from 6 yards. Borris were now in control and the midfield pairing of Whelan and Jon Nolan were dominating their opposite numbers. Tony Lawlor, an immense figure at centre back for Borris, was controlling the home sides’ back line. Johnstown did pose a threat however, and came close again on 25 minutes from a corner of their own. Borris nearly doubled their lead on 30 minutes as Whelan picked up possession near the centre circle, beat two men, flicked the ball in the air and unleashed a vicious volley from outside the area that smacked the underside of the crossbar, bounced down and then out over the keeper. The majority of people in the ground were convinced it was a goal but the referee refused to give it.

As the conditions worsened and tackles were flying in, Tadgh Daly received a knock to the thigh. With our left sided centre back receiving treatment off the pitch, Johnstown capitalised and scored a goal from Tadgh’s position. This brought the scores level as half time arrived.

Johnstown started brighter in the second half and, together with a strong wind, forced  Borris onto the back foot. The pressure eventually converted into a goal. From a long range free kick, aided by a stiff breeze, the Johnstown midfielder curled the ball above the crowded penalty area and past Borris keeper Fenlon. 2-1 to the away side now and things were not going to plan. A couple of changes due to injury unsteadied the Borris ship even more as Johnstown were awarded another free. The same result occured again as the ball nestled in the Borris goal. However, the goal was ruled out because it came from an indirect free. Borris were testing their luck once more 5 minutes later. A quick counterattack by the visitors caught Borris napping and, what looked like a perfectly timed through ball to the Johnstown winger, was called offside just as he slotted the ball home. Another lifeline for Borris.

The remaining 15 minutes of the second half were dominated by Borris and eventually the equaliser came courtesy of Ciaran Dowling. Neat play down the right provided Dowling with the space to shoot from the right hand corner of the box. The result - a screamer into the top left hand corner of the Johnstown net. 2-2 and extra time was beckoning.

Borris tried hard to finish the game before extra time but couldn't find the winner. Extra time continued in the same fashion with Borris looking fresher and creating more chances. Unfortunately the goal never materialised and we were left to face the dreaded penalty shootout.

Credit has to go the the Johnstown keeper here. He was man of the match in last years U17 final and it is easy to see this was not his first time to face a penalty. Borris keeper Felon started brilliantly by saving the first penalty. 1-0 to Borris. However, Borris missed the next two penalties leaving it 1-2. the scores then went to 3-3 with Johnstown's striker having a chance to win it. Fenlon did his best to psych him out, and it worked, as the ball was sent flying over the bar. Into sudden death and both teams scored their next efforts. Borris then missed their next effort opening the door for Johnstown to win it. Up stepped their midfielder and smashed the ball home to leave the scores 4-5 after penalties.

A devestated Borris walked off the field knowing they could easily have won this game. However, they gave their absolute best effort for the entire game and will learn from this defeat to come back stronger next year. In a fantastic squad performance, Tony Lawlor, Jon Nolan, Jack Doyle and Ciaran Whelan shone.

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