TWO glorious goals and a stunning goalkeeping display booked Killarney Celtic’s place in the quarter-finals of the prestigious FAI Junior Cup, for the first time in the club’s history, in Limerick this afternoon.
They overcame a stern challenge from fancied Limerick outfit Ballynanty Rovers despite the fact that Brian Spillane’s charges were down to 10 men after 18 minutes.
Gary Keane took one for the team when he prevented what could well have been a Ballynanty goal but, displaying remarkable qualities, predominantly a passionate will to win, Cektic controlled the game and always looked the most likely side to score.
The first half finished scoreless, thanks mainly to Celtic keeper Roy Kelliher who pulled off three brilliant saves throughout the afternoon, and as the game wore on, Killarney were beginning to flex their muscle.
The big breakthrough came approaching the 70th minute when John McDonagh crossed to Stephen McCarthy and his cool finish sparked great celebrations on the sideline with the bus load of Celtic supporters that made the journey going wild.
There were even more celebratory scenes 10 minutes later when a long ball from Hayes found Wayne Sparling in space and a player with his finishing abilities don’t need to be asked twice and he finished with great aplomb as it his trademark.
Celtic were cruising at that stage and even though Ballynanty pulled a goal back three minutes into overtime, the Killarney lads held on for a truly historic victory – the first time in their 41-year history that they reached this late stage of the premier competition.
They will now wait for the last eight draw with great anticipation and, given their remarkable season to date, it would take a very foolish man to bet against them advancing further.