Seven goal thriller ends Manor's Cup adventure

Soccer Connacht Junior Cup Quarter-Final

Exactly 20 years to the day after Stan Collymore scored a dramatic late winner to give Liverpool victory in a seven goal thriller against Newcastle, Manor Rangers were eliminated at the quarter-final stage of the Connacht Cup on the same scoreline.

Manor contributed hugely to what was a very enjoyable game which was moved from the Bee Park to IT Sligo as a result of the rain that fell over the weekend.

Struggling though they may have been in recent weeks to secure points to move clear of the relegation zone, there has been a sense of purpose surrounding Manor when they have taken to the field for Connacht Cup games this year and last Sunday afternoon proved to be no exception.

Although strangely hesitant when the game got underway, once they settled Manor looked more than a match for their Galway opponents. However, Mervue had a clinical edge that Manor could not contend with. Barry Moran, who has league of Ireland experience was excellent in terms of his link-up play while Simon Walshe bagged a hat-trick in a fine individual performance.

Neither side looked entirely convincing during the opening exchanges but it was Mervue who had the first glimpse of goal and they made it count with just eight minutes on the clock. A momentary lapse in concentration from the Manor defence allowed Eoin Concannon to drift into space at the back post and he was picked out by Simon Walsh and Concannon made no mistake in finding the Manor net.

That goal seemed to be of more benefit to Manor than it was to Mervue as the Leitrim side seemed to relax into the game. Manor struck for a deserved equaliser in the 20th minute when Colin Ryan's long, searching ball was met by Alan Hickey's head in the Mervue penalty area. The Mervue defending wasn't brilliant but Hickey's reactions were outstanding. He realised the ball would fall for him and on the half-volley he smashed the ball to the net, via the crossbar.

Manor were visibly growing in confidence and took the lead in the 27th minute when Hickey rose well to get his head to a Daniel Skimmin corner and Seamus Ryder showed even better reactions as he then got his head to the ball, diverting it past the goalkeeper and into the net.

With 12 minutes of the half remaining Mervue once more capitalised on the briefest loss of concentration in the Manor defence. Barry Moran picked up the ball in a deep position and released a perfect ball into the path of Simon Walshe who confidently dispatched his shot past Paul Scanlon to ensure there was nothing separating the sides at the interval.

Seamus Ryder had the first sight of goal after the break but he dragged his shot wide while Alan Hickey was also off target with an effort.

After the excitement of the first half, the second half was proving to be quite cagey, until Mervue struck for their third goal with 18 minutes remaining. Having sustained a lot of Manor pressure, Mervue broke quickly and Barry Moran once again released Walshe who scored past Scanlon.

A re-shuffle saw Manor go to a back three as they looked for an equaliser but they were undone when Moran again got behind the Manor defence and he crossed for Eoin Concannon who then squared for Walshe who scored his third and Mervue's fourth to leave Manor facing an uphill task.

Manor gave their all as they attempted to force their way back into contention and with nine minutes remaining they received a lifeline when Seamus Ryder scored his second goal of the game. Some fine link-up play involving Alan Hickey and Colin Ryan saw Ryan deliver a dangerous cross which Ryder powerfully headed home from close range.

Manor weren't lacking in terms of effort in the closing stages as they searched for a goal that would have brought the game to extra-time but Mervue used all their experience to see the game out and advance to the semi-finals.