Men’s Irish Senior Cup final
Monkstown 5 (A Ewington 3, D Carson, A Ward) Pembroke 4 (A Sothern 3, R Flannery), after silver goal extra time
Such scripts would be rejected as preposterous by Hollywood studios but 99 years since their last Irish Senior Cup success, the title has been returned to Monkstown in the most dramatic of fashion.
Indeed, the cult status of Andy Ewington just grows and grows as he fired a third killer goal in as many outings, completing his second hat trick of the weekend with a second silver goal.
That the kiwi had played just three competitive games for the first team before this week makes the story all the more surreal, returning to the fold to become the toast of the Town, first winning the Mills Cup for his side and then being their key players in both finals weekend games.
Once again, he showed he had ice in his veins as he bludgeoned home a winning drag-flick for the third goal of an amazing first period of silver goal extra time.
It closed out yet another engaging Irish Senior Cup final after two years worth of seven-goal thrillers with a glut of twists in the supposed tail to endure many a season.
Normal time had ended 3-3 in a thrill-a-minute tussle that Monkstown shaded on points and had the chances to put the game to bed. They led 2-0 after Davy Carson’s near post touch to Andrew Ward’s cross at the right post in the eighth minute while Ewington’s drag-flick extended the margin.
Town were in delicious early form but Ronan Flannery, in just his second competitive fixture of the season, was motivating his side with a rambunctious performance
Alan Sothern, though, tied up matters with a set-piece double, the first from the penalty spot – after his initial shot hit a body on the line – and followed up by thudding the post.
From the ensuing free out, Monkstown countered and Ward was only denied by a sublime save from the impeccable Mark Ingram who got a high hand to stop the goal-bound flick.
Sothern then scored directly from Pembroke’s sixth short corner to make it 2-2 in the 28th minute, sending David Cole ducking for cover. In the set-piece battle, Ewington’s next shot was brilliantly touched onto the bar by former Town player Ingram, keeping it level at the break after a breathless opening 35 minutes.
There was more of the same in the second half with Ewington’s overlapping down the right – switching between a back four to three – going unchecked on a number of occasions.
Pembroke, meanwhile, were grateful for Maurice Elliott’s great runs to relieve the pressure. They produced some slick interplay at times, Kirk Shimmins and Sothern combining for the Wesley player to reverse at Fitzgerald.
Ward was next to hit the frame of the goal from Davy Carson’s brilliant pull back when the ball seemed to destined to go out of play. Lee Cole touched wide the first corner variation of the day with the crowd angle leaving many to think it had gone in.
Ewington, though, restored the lead with his fifth goal of the weekend in the 51st minute. It was a case of the walking wounded in many cases with Monkstown employing runner repairs on the likes of player-coach Graham Shaw and Ewington among others.
Pembroke equalised with ten minutes left in exquisite fashion as they swung the ball around the circle first time via Ronan Flannery and George Dagg. His baseline cutback fell perfectly into the path of Alan Sothern to dive onto and complete his hat trick.
Town had the better chances down the final stretch as Elliott and Flannery both saw yellow. It could have been game over when they were awarded a penalty stroke but Ingram saved from Gareth Watkins, though, to keep the game alive.
Ward then was within inches of turning in a back post chance soon after. His time was to come two minutes into extra-time as the rollercoaster continued.
He putting his side in front for a fourth time, taking is time to free the ball and flick over Ingram. Just three minutes remained but there was time for Ronan Flannery to level once more, getting a near post touch to Mick O’Connor’s hopeful cross.
But Monkstown earned one last series of corners and Ewington made no mistake in devastatingly clinical fashion, whipping past the stick side of the Pembroke goalkeeper on the final hooter.
It broke of chain of three final losses in the past six years for Monkstown and they celebrated accordingly. Gareth Watkins was part of each of those defeats but says his side learned the tough lessons and they helped his side over the finish line.
“What a game; so many highs, so many lows but the lads were absolutely fantastic, they kept their belief and kept going to the end,” he said.
“You learn from each final and bank that feeling. Maybe it stood to us when every time Pembroke came back.”
Pembroke: M Ingram, R Flannery, K Lynch, K Crawford, M Elliott, K Shimmins, M O’Connor, A Sothern, A Pritchard, D Kane, M Loughrey
Subs: G Dagg, P Conlon, S Furlong, B Grogan, D Molloy
Monkstown: D Fitzgerald, L Cole, N Dee, D Carson, A Ward, G Watkins, D Cole, S Cole, G Shaw, R Sykes, A Ewington
Subs: J Beirne, G Groves, G O’Halloran, R O’Moore, K Good
Umpires: K Bolger, W McCully