*Shane Cusack is congratulated by Alan Reidy and Flan Sheedy. Photograph: Natasha Barton

CLAIMING THE FAI Junior Cup “is the pinnacle” for Newmarket Celtic, goalkeeper Shane Cusack has said.

During his teenage years, Cusack spent time with Colchester Utd while he has League of Ireland experience with Limerick FC, Athlone Town and Treaty Utd but nothing could compare to winning the biggest prize in junior soccer with his hometown club, Newmarket Celtic.

“This is the pinnacle,” Shane told The Clare Echo. “Look what it means to everyone and generations from Newmarket-on-Fergus, from our grandfathers, fathers and the generations that have played before us right down to the kids, you can see what it means and how it has captured the imagination in the primary schools, hopefully it will inspire the next generation. We’ve been knocking on the door for a long time and I’m just glad we delivered today and that the cup is coming home to Newmarket”.

Ultra consistent this season, Cusack had many starring moments in Saturday’s final. With 107 minutes on the clock and extra time almost over, he somehow managed to save a shot from Adrian Kelliher with his feet while in the penalty shootout, he again produced a brilliant save, this time to stop Shane Ryan.

Shane Cusack and his partner Michelle Flanagan. Photograph: Joe Buckley

Throughout normal time, he continued to bat away any danger by offering a calm presence in fetching any high ball that came his way.

On the extra time save, he reflected, “It always comes down to moments, it’s Eoin being taken down for the penalty, it’s a set piece for them, it’s David McCarthy hitting the post with the last kick of the game, it always comes down to moments, I’m just thankful that my big toe stuck out and caught that one in the ninetieth minute, it’s little moments that define everything”.

Prior to the shootout, Shane consulted with the squad’s other two goalkeepers, Dermot Gannon and Alan Reidy. He explained what the discussions focused on, “we’re at that stage here where we all know, it’s a bluff double bluff situation because every penalty is recorded and there’s footage for everything, they know I’ve seen their penalties so it is a bluff double bluff situation, will they go to the same side or not. It always comes down to a bit of luck, we’ve been unlucky in times gone by but thankfully today the luck is on our side”.

They may be highly pressurised situations but according to the Newmarket-on-Fergus native, penalty shootouts are savoured by custodians. “For goalkeepers you’ve nothing to lose and everything to gain, goalkeepers all love penalty shootouts, you’re not expected to save and the pressure is on the striker, you have to be confident and have the research in the back of your mind, you just hope you go the right way and make the right save”.

Shane Cusack with his uncle Mike. Photograph: Joe Buckley

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Subscribe for just €3 per month

If you’re here, you care about County Clare. So do we. Did you rely on us for Covid-19 updates, follow our election coverage, or visit The Clare Echo every week for breaking news and sport? The Clare Echo invests in local journalism and we want to safeguard its future in our county. By becoming a subscriber you are supporting what we do, will receive access to all our premium articles and a better experience, while helping us improve our offering to you. Subscribe to clareecho.ie and get the first six months for just €3 a month (less than 75c per week), and thereafter €8 per month. Cancel anytime, limited time offer. T&Cs Apply. www.clareecho.ie.

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