Borris 2 - 2 Ardgillan (Borris won 3-1 on penalties)
They did it the hard way - but at least they did it! Borris have reached their first ever Leinster Senior Soccer final after a nailbiting match in Newbridge. While Borris were the better team throughout, creating more chances than the Balbriggan outfit, they were nearly made to pay for their wastefulness in front of goal.
Borris were on top from the very beginning of the match. With their first attack they drew a fine save from the opposition keeper. Another attack after five minutes resulted in a free kick being awarded wide on the right. Gary Lawlor, impressive all game, swung in a delighful ball exactly as practiced on the training ground. The in-rushing Ross McEvoy forced the defender to connect perfectly to plant it into the bottom corner for an own goal. Just 5 minutes later, the second goal arrived. A corner for Borris caused panic in the Ardgillan box and Niall Lynam nearly had the jersey pulled off him. The referee awarded a penalty (incidently the last time he awarded anything in Borris' favour for the rest of the game). Kevin McDonald confidently dispatched the spot kick into the bottom left to give the Carlow side a 2 goal lead after 10 minutes. It looked as if Borris would cruise through the game but the referee and Ardgillan had other ideas.
In fairness, Borris seemed to take their foot off the pedal for the remainder of the first half. This allowed Ardgillan to pass the ball around a bit and gain some confidence. Their playmaking number 10 in particular was giving Borris some difficulty. Then the referee had his say. From a long Ardgillan ball, Tony Lawlor, who had a storming game, won a towering header above the Ardgillan attacker. There was a clash of heads and the ref' unexpectedly gave a free to the opposition on the edge of the box. With centre back Lawlor requiring treatment and then being removed from the pitch for a minute, the free kick was sent into the box and bundled over the line to bring the score to 2-1.
Borris were fuming but needed to maintain control. A couple of hard but fair challenges from Anthony Nolan and Ross McEvoy in midfield were given as fouls as Ardgillan tried to capitalise on the ref's favouritism. It remained 2-1 at half time.
The Borris lads were annoyed at half time but needed to refocus. They knew they were not playing well but were still winning. As they began the second half, Borris saw a lot less of the ball due to a strong wind working against them. With Ardgillan now making use of this wind, they started to create some decent chances. Eventually the equaliser came. A mix up in the Borris box from an Ardgillan corner wasn't cleared properly and was poked over the line by the alert Ardgillan striker. 2-2 now with 20 minutes left.
Borris really stepped up a gear after the equaliser. Continuing to push forward was paying dividends as chances fell to Chris Nolan, McDonald, the energetic Lynam and Jon Nolan. None of the chances were converted and this, coupled with Tony Lawlor having to make two goal line clearances, kept the game balanced on a knife edge. Borris keeper Aidan Hynes then made an incredible double save to keep the scores level as extra time beckoned. There was time for one more piledriver from Kevin McDonald, but the Ardgillan keeper kept the shot out of the net.
2-2 at full time so extra time was the order of the day. Borris were the stronger, fitter more determined team during the extra 20 minutes and should have won the game on a number of occasions as Ardgillan played for penalties. They got their wish as no further goals were scored. On to penalties and Hynes' time to shine.
Borris were first up and after a long wait, Chris 'Mo' Aylward smashed the ball past the keeper. 1-0 Borris. The Ardgillan striker then had his effort saved by Hynes to leave it at 1-0. McDonald stepped up for his second spot kick of the day but this time the keeper pulled off a great save. Ardgillan scored their second and Chris Nolan for Borris scored their third, 2-1. Hynes then pulled off a super save to keep it 2-1. Tony Lawlor stepped up to make it 3-1 and leave the Ardgillan centre back with a kick to keep them in it. Hynes turned on the mind games here, winding the player up so much that he skyed the ball out of the stadium. Cue wild celebrations as Borris were victorious.
In the end they got there. Man of the match Aidan Hynes delivered when he was called upon and Borris march onto the final looking to make history. It was hard to pinpoint any player won didn't perform well on the day so maybe it was the occasion that got to the whole team. The referee didn't help matters either but Borris need to remember that they overcame many obstacles out of their control today and still delivered when it mattered most. John O'Shea, the former Man Utd and current Sunderland player, extended his congratulations and best wishes to the team for the final and he has no doubt that they will finish the job. Well done lads.