*Avenue Utd’s starting eleven.
AVENUE United are through to the semi-finals of the Munster Junior Cup after as expected seeing off the challenge of Togher Celtic.
Avenue Utd 5
Togher Celtic 2
Venue: Droumleena Lawn, Dunmanway
Despite having a long 175km plus journey to West Cork for the tie, Avenue carried the favourites tag with them on their travels and return to the county just ninety minutes away from a first appearance in the Munster Junior Cup final.
While they reached the semi-finals of the competition in 1986, Avenue Utd have been knocking on the door, particularly in the past three seasons to try make serious inroads in the competition.
A big asset to their cause this season has been the signing of Steven McGann, the ex Limerick FC and Pike Rovers man had an influential role in proceedings in West Cork, scoring two goals and having the assist for their opener.
That opening goal arrived on eight minutes when McGann played the ball through to Ronan Kerin and the captain hit the target to steady the visitors.
Although they had the better of the chances, Avenue struggled to add that second goal. Elias Kunz came close on twelve minutes, he then teed up Mossy Hehir on twenty one minutes but his first-time shot just went above Ciaran Murray’s crossbar.
Hehir’s second attempt arrived moments later when again it was McGann that supplied the delivery but this one was collected by Murray and the danger cleared.
Given that they have dominated plenty of opening halves but have struggled to put the game to bed in big encounters outside the county, Avenue Utd knew they had to reflect their dominance on the scoreboard.
By the hour mark, that coveted second goal arrived. Mark Roche powered down the wing and was then brought down inside the box prompting referee Tim McDermott to award a penalty. Up stepped McGann and he slotted the ball to the bottom left corner of the net with sixty two minutes on the clock.
Four minutes later, Ennis man McGann added to his account, Nnabuike Nneji did very well to break to ball to him and his subsequent shot took a deflection off Ian Crowley and got beyond Murray to suddenly leave Avenue Utd dominant both in the contest and on the scoreboard.
The goal from Steven McGann after great work from Nna that put Avenue United 3-0 in Dunmanway.
A big thanks to Fitzgerald Electrical, Solar PV & Hustle Fitness Ennis, Galway & Shannon for their continued support this year.
🍒 🍒 🍒 🍒 🍒 pic.twitter.com/dFQf6RIOA1
— Avenue United FC (@UnitedAvenue) February 11, 2024
Eoin Murray dispatched a penalty at the other end on sixty seven minutes when a high foot in Avenue’s box saw the spot kick awarded with Murray sticking the ball past Luke Woodrow who had regained the number one jersey from James Tierney.
Two goals in the space of as many minutes saw further joy for Avenue in the closing stages. First, Mark Roche landed the ball in the bottom corner of the net following link-up play between Elias Kunz and Witness Odirile. Then three substitutes combined, Stephen Jordan, Mikey Dinan and Philip Talty were all involved as Talty produced a nice finish on eighty seven minutes.
There would be another goal in the tie but at the other end. Luke Hurley hit the corner of the net from the edge of the box, the move coming straight from the tip-off following Talty’s goal.
Now in the fifth season of David Russell’s tenure, Avenue Utd have a provincial semi-final to look forward to. They’ll face Tipperary giants, St Michael’s AFC in the penultimate stage in what will be a significant jump in standard from this outing but at their best it is a game that the Roslevan based club will certainly fancy their chances in.
Avenue Utd: Luke Woodrow; Cullen McCabe, Conor Mullen, Dylan Casey, Jamie Roche; Nnabuike Nneji, Mark Roche, Steven McGann, Mossy Hehir, Ronan Kerin, Elias Kunz.
Subs: Philip Talty for Kerin (71), Eoghan Thynne for Hehir (71), Witness Odirile
Stephen Jordan, Mikey Dinan.
Togher Celtic: Ciaran Murray; Jamie Lucey, Eoin Murray, Kevin Cotter, Liam Creedon, B Horgan, Luke Hurley, Robbie Lucey, Cathal Daly, Niall Hurley, Ian Crowley.
Subs: Adrian Hurley for Creedon (HT), P Crowley for Horgan (80), Daniel McSweeney for E Murray (82), P Collins for Daly (80), David Horgan for Lucey (90)
Referee: Tim McDermott