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Tuesday 17 Jan 2023
Coalisland Athletic pipped by Villa in Presidents’ Junior Cup final

A dramatic late winner secured Junior Presidents' Cup glory for Waterford side Villa FC at the expense of Coalisland Athletic.

With a penalty shootout looming large on the horizon, super sub John Frederick Tamen blasted the ball into the Athletic net after keeper Colm McNally had parried a rasping shot from Regix Madika.

It was a cruel sting in the tail for Coalisland who had more than matched their southern counterparts in a showpiece occasion at Armagh’s Holm Park that brought together last season's fonaCAB Irish Junior Cup winners and the FAI Junior Cup winners.

After a cagey opening 45 minutes, Dan McNulty fired Coalisland into the lead just two minutes after the interval but that advantage for the Tyrone side was wiped out around the hour mark when Adam Conway scored with a free-kick.

That equaliser set up an enthralling final half-hour with both sides creating excellent opportunities before Tamen swooped with the all-important winner at the death.

The Presidents' Junior Cup was inaugurated in 2018 by the then Irish FA President David Martin and former FAI President Donal Conway. Due to Covid the all-Ireland decider was not contested in 2020 and 2021.

Athletic, who captured last season's Irish Junior Cup by defeating Bangor YM 4-1 in the final at The National Stadium at Windsor Park, were attempting to become the first team from Northern Ireland to win the prestigious trophy.

David Magee's side were without injured talisman PJ Lavery, who scored twice in the Irish FA's showpiece decider and, in truth, neither side mustered a decent opportunity in the first half during yesterday's clash.

But in the second period McNulty fired Coalisland in front after the Villa defence had failed to deal with a long, searching ball forward.

It was a goal that the game needed and at that juncture Athletic were in the ascendancy as both sides upped the tempo.

On 61 minutes Villa were back on terms. Luke Walsh was fouled on the edge of the area and Conway stepped up to expertly place his free-kick inside McNally's right post.

It was game on at this stage as Athletic's Conor Hughes drove the ball over the crossbar from just five yards out after Villa stopper Craig Dunphy had parried a long range strike by McNulty.

At the other end McNally made an excellent stop by diving at the feet of Ravelli Kilonda who had raced clear of the Coalisland defence.

At that point a penalty shoot-out looked the more likely outcome, however that man Tamen had other ideas and the attacker conjured up a late winner to break Athletic hearts.

Coalisland Athletic: Colin McNally, Gary Coney (Shea Rankin 80’), Ciaran Magee, Conor Hughes, Daryl Magee, Conor Lavery, Sean Corr, Ciaran O'Neill (Cathaoir Quinn 86’), Shea Coney, Paul Coney, Daniel McNulty (Colm Devlin 55’).

Subs not used: Kevin Lavery, Aaron Kerr, Tiernan Fee, Nathan Crawford.

Villa FC: Craig Dunphy, Adam Conway, Conor Signorelli, Eoghan Rea, Adam Heaslip, Luke Walsh, Conor Kilgannon, Dean Walsh (Shane Glenn O'Brien 2’), Ravelli Kilonda, Dylan Walsh (John Frederick Tamen 60’), Regix Madika.

Subs not used: Shane Paul O'Brien, Dylan Stickel, Niall McCabe, Kieran Doheny, Bobby Drohan.

Referee: Ryan Evans.