Heartbreak for Pike Rovers in FAI Junior Cup final

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Pike Rovers' Eoin Hanrahan is tackled by Conor Kilgannon of Villa FC during the FAI Junior Cup final.

Pike Rovers lost their third final in six years following a 1-0 loss at the hands of Waterford outfit Villa FC at Turners Cross on Sunday afternoon.

A goal early in the second half from Conor Kilgannon was enough to give Conor Coad’s side their first ever success in the national competition. A huge crowd was present from both sides at the Cork venue.

Pike Rovers began with a 3-5-2 formation with Pat Mullins at the centre of the defensive three along with Adam Lipper and Wayne O’Donovan. Eoin Hanrahan and Danny O’Neill operated as left and right wing-backs respectively and player manager Robbie Williams anchored the midfield behind Colm Walsh O’Loughlen and Steven McGann. Aaron Murphy partnered Conor Layng up front.

Nerves dominated in the opening stages with neither team taking any risks which could lead to mistakes. Williams had the first chance of the game as he rattled a free-kick off the crossbar from the edge of the area. Villa had a couple of long range sighters before Pike failed to clear a cross field ball and Kilgannon’s knock down fell to Dean Walsh but Adam Lipper did enough to block the shot.

Villa were the better side in the beginning of the second half with John Frederic Tamen driving down the left hand side and in the second phase of the attack, the winger skied his effort from the edge of the area. Moments later, Cian Browne received possession in the Pike half before passing to Walsh whose square pass found Kilgannon free in the penalty area but he dragged his shot wide.

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However, the Waterford outfit took the lead when Browne played a penetrating pass to Walsh who squared the ball to Conor Kilgannon to finish into an empty net.

Evan Patterson of Pike Rovers in action against Cian Browne of Villa FC in the FAI Junior Cup final

Pike reacted immediately and introduced Kevin Barry in place of Aaron Murphy and he made an immediate impact as he chested the ball into the path of Steven McGann who fired a shot straight at Craig Dunphy. The Hoops created more dangerous moments with long crosses towards Barry but the threat was eradicated when Barry had to leave the field through injury.

Pike made a raft of substitutions in an attempt to grab an equaliser and also through a number of bodies forward but it was to no avail. One of those substitutions was Evan Patterson who was shown a straight red for a moment of madness and he was joined by Colm Walsh O’Loughlen who was also shown a red card. With just five minutes remaining, Villa had no trouble in closing out the game against the 9 men.

Pike’s attention will now turn to local matters where they are in the Lawson Cup Final and the league title race has gone down to the last day.

Pike Rovers: Gary Neville, Danny O’Neill (Evan Patterson 67), Adam Lipper, Pat Mullins, Wayne O’Donovan, Eoin Hanrahan, Robbie Williams, Colm Walsh-O’Loughlen, Steven McGann, Aaron Murphy (Kevin Barry 58), Conor Layng

Villa FC: Craig Dunphy, James Kennedy, Dylan Walsh, Adam Heaslip, Conor Signorelli (Eoghan Rea 75), Luke Walsh (Mark Walsh 71), Aaron O’Connor, Conor Kilgannon, John Frederick Tamen, Cian Browne, Dean Walsh

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