LETTERKENNY Rovers booked another final date in the Donegal News League Cup after a gritty and determined display saw them overcome the challenge of a decent Derry City Reserves side on penalties after the game had ended 1-1 after extra time.
Letterkenny Rovers 1 Derry City 1 (after extra time, Letterkenny win 3-2 on penalties)
Rovers are the holders of the Cup and showed great to survive the final minutes of an extended second half injury time and extra time with ten men after the dismissal of Joel Gorman for receiving a second caution.
It was an absorbing encounter which caught fire on 25 minutes when City captain Mark McFadden fired a right footed effort into the corner of the net to hand the Foylesiders the lead and that was the first real opportunity of note for either side.
Rovers almost levelled straight away when Gary Merritt’s cross just was inches away from being turned in by Davitt Walsh (pictured).
The Candystripes – many of whose players were watched by Republic of Ireland Under-19s boss Tom Mohan – then wasted a great chance to double their advantage on 44 minutes when Caolan McLaughlin blasted over from 8 yards out.
That proved to be the turning point as Rovers levelled at at the start of the second when a probing run from Merritt saw the ball fall to Kevin McGrath and when his shot was parried by Jack Lemoignan in the City goal veteran Davitt Walsh pounced to fire home.
The game was then held up for a long period following an injury to City midfielder Ronan McKinley and the game was in the melting pot with both sides showing plenty of endeavour and industry without really troubling the respective net-minders.
Caolan McLaughlin twice shot just wide for City while Gary Merritt fired wide for Rovers before Connor Gormley had a chance to win it for the Cathedral Town men on 89 but saw his header fail to find the target when he looked set to score.
Rovers were reeling when Joel Gorman was given a second yellow by referee Michael Connolly two minutes into added time but saw the remaining time out well showing a dogged tenacity to bring it to extra time.
City, as you would expect, had plenty of possession in the additional periods and twice came close through whizzing Jack Parke and McLaughlin efforts while Tiernan McKinney almost won it in the dying stages but his effort was well saved by Rovers goalkeeper Rory Kelly who had a commanding afternoon between the sticks
Penalties ensued and it was Rovers who prevailed 3-2 with Kelly, Lee Toland and Connor Gormley hitting the successful spo tkicks for Eamon McConigley’s men who now have two cup finals on successive weekends to look forward to in the coming weeks while City’s Airtricity underage campaign is looming large on the horizon.
Letterkenny Rovers: Rory Kelly, Jonathan Coady, Lee Toland, Rhys McDermott, Connor Gormley, Chris Malseed, Joel Gorman, Zach Gorman, Kevin McGrath, Davitt Walsh, Gary Merritt. Subs used: Leon Doherty, Jordan Gallagher
Derry City Reserves: Jack Lemoignan, Caoimhin Porter, Matty Walker, Jack Parke, Brendan Barr, Dean Corrigan, Ronan McKinley, Mark McFadden, Patrick Ferry, Evan McLaughlin, Caolan McLaughlin. Subs used: Ronan McAleer, Tiernan McKinney, Shaun McDermott, Jack Dwyer, Dominic Dunne.
Referee: Michael ConnollyTags: