More from Malta 2013-04-04 18:27:00

DAY 8 - WEDNESDAY 3RD APRIL 2013

This is to be a big day.

The Scholars are in semi-final action at 10.30am. The Saints don't play until 1.30pm. So the Saints had a bit of a lye-in while the Scholars were down for breakfast for 8.30 so as to be on the road for 9.15 to be at the Stadium in good time.

It had spilled rain overnight and the ground was wet but was visibly drying out before us.

It was soon time for the game.

ADSL SCHOLARS 2 : PAOLA HIBERNIANS 2
(PAOLA HIBERNIANS WIN 4-3 ON PENALTIES)

This was devastating.

We left this one behind us. We started slowly and poorly and not enough of us played well enough for long enough to win the game despite a much better and braver second half.

Ben Cox did have the first shot in anger on goal after only three minutes but within a further minute we fell behind. Oisin did well to make the initial save but they reacted quickest to the rebound to score in off the post.

That was really the story of the first half. We were second to most balls and looked sluggish and a little flat. Two minutes before half time we were two down. We gave the ball way and their shot on goal was just too high for Oisin as it nestled in the net. We were in serious trouble.

However we made a real fight of it in the second half driven on by Harry, Daniel and Niall in particular.

It looked for a time that our luck was out when in the 11th minute of the half Harry Cornally's super shot was somehow turned over the crossbar while in the next minute a backward header from them totally deceived their keeper but bounced back off the crossbar. However we were now totally dominating the game.

A goal finally arrived in the 20th minute of the half. Conor Farrell swung in a great delivery from a free kick out on the right for big Niall Murray to head to the net. One minute later we were all square. Luke Kelly put in a dangerous corner for big Niall to again head to the net for 2-2.

There now only looked like one winner. We pressed forward relentlessly. In the closing minutes Daniel Heavin's header came back off the bottom of the post while in the resulting scramble their keeper made a great double save at his near post.

Then in the last seconds Conor Farrell had a great chance but pulled his low shot wide with the goal at his mercy.

There was no extra-time and this semi-final went directly to a penalty shoot-out.

We went first but Luke K's spot kick was saved while they converted their first kick. Harry Cornally and Ben Cox then successfully converted their kicks to be matched by the Hibs players to leave it 3-2 in their advantage after three kicks each. Daniel next hit the crossbar with his next kick but we were given half a chance when they put their fourth penalty over the bar. Conor Layng then scored his kick to pile the pressure on them but their fifth kicker held his nerve to score and win the semi-final 4-3.

It was cruel. We had started badly but had stormed back into the game to totally dominate and they were hanging on long before the end. It was devastating and particularly given the chances we had in the second half but it was not to be and we must take what we can from the experience.

It was a very quiet dressing room.

Eventually spirits lifted a little and the Scholars headed off to lunch while the Saints prepared for their game, a contest to determine 7th or 8th position.

ADSL SAINTS 2 : BIRKIRKARA 1

The Saints had the better of a closely contested but scoreless first half.

Jordan Nugent was called upon to make a good save after only ten minutes but otherwise the ADSL Saints made most of the running. On 26 minutes a well-worked free kick routine quickly down the right put in Jonathan Cunningham but his shot was well saved for the expense of a corner. From that corner kick Conor Lynam almost got his head on a great Eoin Egan delivery. Matthew Nally also came close with a good shot in the very last seconds of the game.

The second half was barely two minutes old when Birkirkara went ahead with a very good goal lobbing the stranded Colm Lynch for a 1-0 lead.

That goal only caused the Saints to work harder. Within a further six minutes we were level.

When Matthew Nally was fouled in their half Eoin Egan showed quick thinking to take a quick free-kick to roll in Brian Derwin who finished quite brilliantly to make it 1-1. Two minutes later Brian returned the compliment in releasing Eoin Egan on goal to score for a 2-1 lead.

The Saints had several opportunities to extend that lead and came closest when Ben Troy's header was saved just underneath the crossbar.

The Saints comfortably held out to win the game more convincingly than the final score line might suggest. It was a good win for the Saints who showed considerable character and spirit to come from behind. It was an excellent overall performance and a good way to sign off our involvement in the competition.

Paola Hibernians went on to win the Final and again in a penalty shoot-out, and again 4-3, having drawn 1-1 with Mosta in regulation time.

At the presentation the ADSL Scholars were awarded the Fair Play Award as voted for by the Tournament referees. That was nice.

After some well deserved Pizza it was back to the hotel and attention soon turned to the big game of the week when the Dads took on the sons. An earlier objection to the inclusion of most of the coaches on the dad's team was ruled out while the standard of referring left loads to be desired.

Needless to say the Dads won with big performances from Brian's Dad, John who was prolific in front of goal. The sons tried to point out that this was their fifth game in six days. The ever-supportive Dads were having none of it.

After dinner we had some free time and then headed off to the pub (for the second night running) but this time for a Karaoke. This was mighty fun. The magnanimous Dads were up first with their rendition of "We are the Champions"! That set the standard pretty low!

Most guys had a go with the parents and most of the younger brothers and sisters also having a go making for a great night. There was also a presentation of medals from the Tournament.

Then it was back to the hotel at about midnight to draw a close to our eighth day in Malta. One day to go! Time has flown!

 





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