'An old-fashioned blood-and-guts battle on the grass' - Verona and St Kevin's Boys managers reflect on 'proper cup tie'

Mon, Jan 20 2020

The sides couldn't be separated after 90 minutes. Credit: Peter Fitzpatrick (ETPhotos)

Tim Palmer reports from Coolmine Park

Verona and St Kevin’s Boys will have to do it all again in their quest for an FAI Intermediate Cup quarter-final spot after playing out a 2-2 draw at Cromwell Park on Sunday afternoon.

A last-minute equaliser from Kevin’s defender Jamie Delaney rescued a draw for the visitors in Blanchardstown after Stephen Cantwell had given them the lead from the spot on the hour mark.

Two goals in nine minutes from substitute Mark Walsh, with his first touch of the game, and Christopher Clarke from the penalty spot seemed to have won it for Willie Henry’s side.

Delaney was the unlikely source of the equaliser at the death, however, as Stephen Cromwell’s side ensured their first-ever Intermediate Cup run continues for at least another couple of weeks.

 “The pitch was very wet and heavy and we were missing a few lads,” a disappointed Henry told extratime.ie following the full-time whistle.

“Kevin’s are a great young side, well-drilled by Stephen Costello and Jonny Carroll. They like to move the ball quickly on the astro.

“They have a very good attacking line with [Jordan] Cromwell, Cantwell and [Josh] Peyton to name a few.

“We knew that we could make it hard for them here on the grass, pressing the ball high and staying compact at the back.

“It was a great battle in the end – battles like this don't come on all-weather pitches. [A] good old-fashioned blood and guts battle on the grass. All done in great spirits from both teams.”

Verona have already had one replay against Cork’s Leeds in the previous round and Henry admits the resulting fixture congestion will become more of a worry come the business end of the season.

“We still have 15 league games to play from now until the end of May. With us playing on grass and so many times the pitch has been off, I would be happy to play summer football.

“There are clubs like ourselves that just can't afford to rent astro pitches all the time.

“Plus the fact the LSL have everything finished early as the Euros are on, everything will be squeezed into a few weeks come March, April. We only had one week off at Christmas due to fixtures.”

St Kevin’s Boys manager Stephen Costello also commented his thoughts about the game and how it’ll effect Kevin’s schedule.

“It was a tough game today in very difficult underfoot conditions. So much so it restricted us from bringing our passing game into effect.

“I thought our lads done well adapting to the pitch and still tried to play good football resulting in getting into some good areas but maybe our final ball could have been better.

“There was a proper cup-tie feel to it with neither team holding back especially early on with some crunching tackles in the middle of the park.

“We defended well throughout the game and I couldn't really see where they were going to hurt us other than a mistake or set piece.

“We then struck the post before they found an equaliser from a scramble after a corner. With a couple of minutes to go they scored a penalty and obviously we were fearing the worst.

“But to the lads’ credit they showed unbelievable character. We're just happy to be still in the Intermediate Cup in our first year of asking. It’s all to play for in the replay still ”