Intermediate Cup semi-final: Rosemount Rec 2-2 St Oliver Plunkett (AET)


St Oliver Plunkett win 3-1 on penalties



Rory McKee at the Blanchflower Stadium


There was penalty shootout heartbreak for Rosemount Rec on Wednesday night as St Oliver Plunkett booked their place in this year’s Intermediate Cup final after a captivating encounter at the Blanchflower Stadium.


Goalkeeper Deaglan McMahon was the hero for Plunkett, saving a pair of spot kicks before stepping up to dispatch the winning penalty himself and confirm an all west Belfast meeting with Crumlin Star in the April 25 showpiece.


All four of the game’s goals arrived during a frantic first half that saw Rosemount recover from Conor Nolan’s eighth-minute opener to move into the lead with strikes from Reece Ritchie and Curtis Giltrap.


But Eugene Reid replied for the Division 1B outfit almost immediately to send the teams in level at the break, and that was how it remained until penalties after neither side managed to find a breakthrough in the ensuing second period or in extra time.


It didn’t take long for the tie to spring into life, with Plunkett’s Padraig McParland seeing his freekick come back off the woodwork inside the opening 60 seconds in an early let off for Lee Cathcart’s side.


Rosemount would be punished just seven minutes later when from a corner, Conor Nolan was left unmarked at the back post and he duly headed home for a deserved lead. Chris Rice then had to be alert in goal for the Greyabbey side to deny Jody Lynch from distance after the ball broke to the midfielder, but his effort was straight at the ’keeper.


Traffic was one way in the first quarter-of-an-hour as Rosemount struggled to gain any sort of foothold in the contest, and only a goal line clearance from Jordan Dalzell stopped Plunkett from extending their lead in the 23rd minute.


Then came a piece of individual brilliance. Dalzell fed the ball into Reece Ritchie just inside the Plunkett half and the wide man set off on a mazy run, holding off the challenge of three defenders before steering into the far corner in style to wake Rosemount into action after a lacklustre start.


At the other end Plunkett captain Michael Healy really out to have restored his side’s lead when following a series of dangerous corners, he blazed over from all of six yards in a crowded penalty area.


Somewhat against the run of play, it was Rosemount who got in front on 33 minutes through a combination of their front three. Ritchie played an exchange with the overlapping Neil Melville who crossed for Dalzell and his dummy allowed Curtis Giltrap to tuck away from close range.


But their lead lasted for less than a minute. A quick Plunkett set piece routine seemed to catch Rosemount off guard and Eugene Reid nipped in to head Stephen O’Neill’s delivery past Rice, who had come off his line to claim, and make it 2-2 at the interval.


It was a second period that perhaps unsurprisingly lacked the same level of intensity as the first, but one that still saw chances at both ends of the pitch.


Deaglan McMahon was forced into a double save to twice foil Ritchie when it looked like the Rosemount number 10 was about to add to his tally for the evening before at the opposite end, a rasping Padraig McParland shot was well dealt with by Chris Rice.


With the game starting to settle back into a rhythm after a scrappy period, Ritchie – a thorn in Plunkett’s side all evening – showed great work again to leave both Conall Duffy and Martin Webb in his wake but as he bore down on goal he could only fire at McMahon from the angle.


Fatigue began to set in for each camp and with neither team overly troubling either goalkeeper in extra-time, it became clear this one was going to be decided from the penalty spot.


When both Ritchie and substitute Scott Shannon failed to convert from 12 yards, it looked like the writing was on the wall for Rosemount. Chris Rice kept things interesting by saving from Eugene Reid before Nicky Eccles found the bottom corner with his penalty.


But after Michael Healy sent Rice the wrong way and Luke Adair’s kick was stopped by McMahon, the Plunkett ’keeper had the chance to clinch it and he kept his cool to do just that and spark jubilant celebrations under the lights.


Rosemount Rec: Rice, Melville, Crawford, McKee, McAvoy, Stewart (c), A. Eccles, Adair, Dalzell, Ritchie, Giltrap.

Substitutes: Turnbull (Crawford 25), Shannon (Stewart 81), N. Eccles (Dalzell 87), Harrison (McAvoy 104). Not used: Kenmore, Harper, McKay.


St Oliver Plunkett: McMahon, Nolan, Webb, McCusker, M. Healy (c), E. Reid, Lynch, Duffy, McParland, Sloan, O’Neill.

Substitutes: Carroll (O’Neill 75), D. Healy (Webb 75), Breen (Duffy 86), C. Reed (McParland 104). Not used: Sewell, Killyleagh, Lowe.



Rosemount Rec: Turnbull 36, Ritchie 64, Stewart 66, McKee 68


Referee: Niall Devlin


Man of the Match: Reece Ritchie