Glory day for the hoops in a day of high drama

Killarney Celtic 3 Douglas Hall 3 (Celtic won 3-2 on penalties)

Glory boys: The Killarney Celtic squad

IT has been a truly memorable and glorious day for Killarney Celtic FC – and for Kerry soccer – as, for the first time in its 44-year history, the club won a national title when being crowned FAI Youth Cup champions following a pulsating afternoon of high drama at Mounthawk Park in Tralee.

The greatest day in the history of the hoops ended in football’s version of Russian roulette when they clinched the silverware in a dramatic penalty shoot-out that saw them finally overcome a brilliant challenge from classy Cork side Douglas Hall.

A fabulous game ended 3-3 at the end of normal time when Douglas snatched what seemed like a certain victory from Matt Keane’s charges with a sensational goal deep into injury time goal.

Manager Matt Keane

Goalkeeper Adam Carey, with a super save from the impressive Justin Equaibor, was the hero in the shoot-out drama and there were scenes of unbridled joy when substitute Emmet O’Shea converted the all-important spot-kick to leave it 3-2 and the cup was Killarney bound.

In a real end-to-end cup tie, James Daly gave Douglas Hall the lead when he connected sweetly with a delivery from Alex Murphy.

Evan Looney and Terry Sparling both came close for Celtic who were also denied what looked a certain penalty but the sides were back on terms when a curling corner from the hugely impressive Cian Doe caught the keeper by surprise and went whizzed into the far corner of the net.

Douglas Hall were back in front after 65 minutes when substitute Cormac Kelly thumped the first of his two goals to the net.

As the game entered its latter stages, man-of-the-match Padraic Looney had Celtic back on level terms with a fine header and, almost faster than it takes to tell, opportunist striker Terry Sparling outsmarted goalkeeper, Antonio Ancheta, and rifled a left-footed shot to the net to set the scene for a Killarney glory day.

Douglas has other ideas, however, and four minutes into injury time, they stunned Celtic when Cormac Kelly scored a peach of a goal to force extra time with both sets of players visibly tiring and some cramping up.

Even before a near empty stadium, the penalty shoot-out was incredibly tense but the agile Adam Carey – who took Celtic’s first spot-kick himself only to see it saved by his opposite number – denied towering Douglas defender Justin Equaibor and it was left to last year’s Kerry minor Emmet O’Shea, from Fossa, to notch the decisive penalty and, in doing so, he earned Killarney Celtic a place of honour in the FAI history books.

Killarney Celtic: Adam Carey, Emmet Cronin, Cian Doe, Padraic Looney, Jason Kerins, Conor Henderson, Erin Moloney, James Darmody, Terry Sparling, Evan Looney, Dylan O’Callaghan.

Subs: Emmet O’Shea for Cronin; Ruairi Doyle for Moloney; Craig Boyle O’Sullivan for Doe; Dodwin Osebia for Sparling; Jackson O’Mahony for O’Callaghan.

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