Mighty men from Mourne make history.

Wednesday, 29 November 2017

BOTH these sides had only just met on Saturday with Instonians stealing a late equaliser when it looked like Kilkeel had it won, so perhaps the momentum would be with the Belfast side as they met in the second Kirk Cup semi-final.

Kilkeel Men's 1s...2
Instonians Men's 1s...2
(Kilkeel win 3-1 on penalty runs).

It was raining for the majority of the game with both sides struggling to adapt to the slowed down pitch and surface water in parts of the pitch.

Instonians started the game in the best way possible as they scored straight from the hit off within a minute.

Kilkeel hadn't even touched the ball when Instonians went down the right hand side with their right winger hitting the byline before pulling back to an unmarked attacker to fire home and make it 1-0.

There was no doubt it was the worst possible start for the Men from Mourne and it really rocked their confidence.

Instonians were in total control of the game, passing the ball around with ease and forcing Kilkeel into making numerous mistakes with their high press.

The Belfast side continued their dominance as they won a penalty corner off a Kilkeel foot.

It was fired out to William Robinson at the top of the circle and he drag flicked it high into the right corner past keeper Sam Morris to double his sides advantage and leave Kilkeel with a mountain to climb.

Kilkeel were struggling to adapt to the conditions and were unable to really create any sort of clear cut chances in the first half.

It was a frustrating half for the men, but they got to half time with the score 2-0 to Instonians, knowing they needed to up their game if they were to get into the final.

The firsts started the second half on the front foot straight away, showing their intent to try and score goals early on and gain a foothold back in the semi-final.

Instonians seemed to sit back on their two goal advantage as they deployed five at the back and were quite happy to pass it around at a very steady pace.

The midfield of David Rae, Gareth Russell and Edward Agnew were going forward with purpose when they picked up the ball, but they just couldn't find that killer pass to play in their forwards.

With Kilkeel pushing more men forward as the second half grew older, Instonians were looking very threatening on the counter attack, but the defence of Mark Henning, Mark Stevenson, Gary Niblock and Neil Stevenson tackled well to keep the score at 2-0.

Despite their best efforts in the final third, Kilkeel just couldn't breakthrough the oppositions defence as they saw several shots blocked and deflected off target.

As the game entered the final ten minutes, it looked like this was going to be a hurdle too far for the men, but in true Kilkeel style they suddenly found hope as Edward Agnew received the ball inside the area and crashed the ball into the bottom corner to reduce the deficit.

It was the lifeline Kilkeel needed and before the supporters could stop cheering the first goal they soon had an equaliser to cheer.

Incredibly straight from the restart Instonians had a great chance to restore their two goal advantage but the reverse shot was poor and went off target.

Kilkeel then went straight up the other end and after some good interplay down the right side a pinpoint accurate pass found David Finlay unmarked at the back post to sweep home and make it 2-2.

It was an incredible comeback because only two minutes ago Kilkeel trailed 2-0, but now within two minutes they had pulled level and all the momentum was with them in the final five minutes.

The Belfast side were struggling to keep the ball and looked very nervy, but thankfully for them Kilkeel were unable to create any clear cut opportunities again, so the game finished 2-2 with penalty runs now being the course of action to decide this epic encounter.

You are given eight seconds to score a one on one with the keeper and some made it look easy than others in this shootout.

Instonians missed 3 of their opening 4 penalty runs with Sam Morris proving a difficult keeper to score by.

Kilkeel missed one and scored two in their first three which meant they led 2-1 going into their fourth penalty run which if they scored would secure their passage into their first ever Kirk Cup Final.

It was down to Edward Agnew to send his side to the Boxing Day Final and as he went passed the keeper he was taken down illegally and a penalty stroke was awarded.

Step forward Mark Stevenson who made no mistake with his ice cool finish sending the keeper the wrong way and sending his team into the final.

It was an incredible match with Kilkeel showing all their guts and never give up attitude to claw themselves back into the match before winning on penalty runs.

Fresh from making history by reaching their first Kirk Cup Final, the Men from Mourne will look to go one step further and win the trophy on Boxing Day against Mossley.


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