ARTHUR'S TOP DAY IN STANnAWAY
Arthur Griffith send 'The Cross' packing in comeback classic
It was certainly Arthur's Day in Stanaway Park on Saturday afternoon as not only did we see a shock in this UCFL Challenge Cup first round tie, but possibly one of the best comebacks and dramatic finishes of the season already.
The day definitely belonged to Arthur Griffith Park 2nds after they fought back from 2-0 down at half time, 3-2 down in injury-time, to seal their spot in the second round with a dramatic extra-time winner.
The shock merely comes from the fact that Arthur Griffith are playing in Division 3, albeit top at present, against a Harold's Cross team from Division 2.
But this game had everything and began with the visitors having the better of the early exchanges and they were unfortunate not to be ahead after Cian Clifford struck the crossbar.
The home team were settling into the game after the first 15 minutes though and they almost broke the deadlock after 25 minutes when Park were caught trying to play the ball out from the back and the talented Derek Mills almost took advantage but a combination of 'keeper, Paul Cully, and defender Adam Bailey cleared off the line.
Back up the other end Park were a real threat - with Clifford and Jonathan Spollen both almost scoring.
On 33 minutes Clifford forced Alan Doyle in the Cross goal into a superb low save. From the resultant corner by Eric Wong, Spollen headed over.
And the away side were made to rue those missed chances immediately when from the kick-out, Craig McKeown raced down the right showing pace and desire to cross to Gary Delaney to head home.
Five minutes later it was 2-0. Mills' 30-yard free-kick bounced just in front of the diving Cully and the 'keeper couldn't push it away.
It was harsh on Arthur Griffith been two down at the break but they came out fighting in the second half and but for a good save from Doyle in the home goal, Clifford would have got one back on 55 minutes.
But 9 minutes later it was game on after Clifford this time did find the net - heading home Aaron Clarke's perfect delivery from the left.
And on 72 minutes it was 2-2 when Park won a penalty when Spollen was upended in the area and he picked himself up to slot home and make it 2-2.
The drama was far from over though and just five minutes after been pegged back on level terms, Harold's Cross were back ahead when Dan Keogh slotted home from 12-yards after the home side were awarded a controversial penalty.
In injury time though, Park were level at 3-3 when Clarke's corner created chaos in the home area allowing Clifford to blast home.
And this amazing game had an amzing finish when Arthur Griffith completed the comeback by moving 4-3 ahead through Spollen's free-kick after 113 minutes but even then with almost the last kick of the game, Adam Bailey had to clear off his own line to prevent a shoot-out.
HAROLD'S CROSS FC: Alan Doyle, Shane McDonald, Michael O'Brien, Ros Takuz, Ryan Stringer, Bob Cleary, Gary Delaney (Jay Bell 66), Derek Mills, Joe Digan (Shane McGratton 80), Craig McKeown, Rob Davis (Dan Keogh 51). Not used; Gavin Long.
ARTHUR GRIFFITH PARK: Paul Cully, Aidan Kirwan (Paul Kelly 73), Ross Delaney, Adam Bailey, Aidan King (Robert Smyth 80), Craig Doran (Eric Murtagh 66), Eric Wong, Mark Kearney, Jonathan Spollen, Cian Clifford, Aaron Clarke. Not used; Scott Bennett.
Referee: Joe Bowes.
HEADS UP : Arthur Griffith defender Ross Delaney heads clear the danger from Rob Davis of Harolds Cross during their match in Stanaway Park on Saturday.
Photos by www.isportsphoto.com