With this the first game of the New Year for both sides, rustiness could be expected but from the push back it was clear both teams had shaken off the Christmas break very well. The early stages of the game were tense with both side up for it and playing quick, exciting hockey. Both teams traded attacks throughout the first half with Enniscorthy having a number of shots from forwards, Durnan, Jowett & Liukimas. Clontarf won two early short corners but Hill's corner defence of Simmons, Andrew Rothwell and the Chapman brothers, dealt with the threats of their attempts. However, shortly after Doyle's men were not so lucky as a well-played Clontarf attack ended in a goal for the visitors. Mid way through the first half and minutes after Clontarf opened the scoring, the Slaneysiders evened things up with a goal from Jowett. A charge up the left flank from left back Vietch who pushed the ball to Medcalf, and with a reverse flick, he found a free Jowett who made no mistake in slotting the ball passed the outstretched Dublin keeper. Enniscorthy continued to move the ball around the pitch well, starting from the centre back partnership of Ivan Rothwell and Simmons, who both were solid in defence and quick in switching the direction of attack, making it hard to the visitors to get a hold of the ball. The remainder of the first half saw both sides gaining territory, but the first half finished 1-1.
The second half started as the first half had finished, high tempo and with lots of exciting attacks. The home side gained a succession of short corners mid way through the half but were unable to get the desired second goal. The Wexford men came very close to scoring during play, with a combination between Durnan, Cooke and Jowett but the final shot went narrowly wide of the post. Shortly after, another short corner was earned for Enniscorthy from the efforts of Medcalf, Jowett and Liukimas. The latter of these scored from the resulting short when a push from Medcalf to Roy Chapman on the top of the circle, switched the ball to his right to Liukimas, who flicked the ball through the charging Clontarf defence. 2-1 with 15 minutes to go, plenty of time for the game to have a few more twists. Clontarf came back fighting and gained a number of short corners of their own, the home side defence kept them out with saves from Hill and charge downs by his runners. With five minutes to go the Dubliners came back knocking and won a short corner. Hill stopped the shot on its first attempt but due to the power of the drag flick the ball still managed to get over the line. With the final whistle coming shortly after and the game all square at 2-2, it wasn’t over just yet though!
As this was a cup game, a winner was needed for the next round, 1v1s was going to have to separate the teams. 1v1s are similar to a penalty shootout but the attacking player starts with the ball 25 yards out from the goal and is given 8 seconds to beat the opposition goalkeeper and score a goal. Enniscorthy selected it’s 5 takers and Clontarf likewise. The brave 5 from Doyle's squad that stood forward were, Jowett, Liukimas, Medcalf and Chapman brothers Glenn and Roy and of course the man between the posts was the ever-solid and captain of the side Graham Hill. After each side had taken their usual 5, it was still even and they would have to continue until a winner was found. 3 1v1s later and Clontarf were the eventual winners.
In what was a tense, close game, to go down to almost a flip of a coin was heart breaking for Doyle's men, but they will have learned a lot from the game and can be proud of the effort they put in. They will bring that into their game this weekend as they return to league action and welcome Pembroke Wanderers down to Enniscorthy this coming Saturday.
Enniscorthy Squad: Graham Hill; Andrew Rothwell; David Simmons; Martyn Vietch; Ivan Rothwell; Daithi Medcalf; Glenn Chapman; Roy Chapman; Liam Jowett; William Durnan; Edmundas Liukimas; Cory Cooke; Jason Rothwell. Coach: Donal Doyle. Manager: Fraser Rothwell.