Square United booked their place in the second round of the Tully Bookmakers Challenge Cup on Sunday afternoon – but the Ardee side were made to work for it, overcoming BMC United 5-3 after extra-time in Thomastown, despite playing 70 minutes with ten men.
A brace on the day from Darren MacNeill as well as goals from Aaron Kerley and Paudy Clarke helped seal the deal for Square. A late Dermot Caraher cross was touched in by Jamie Rooney for 5-3. Mark Quinn was sent off minutes into the second half after receiving two yellows.
Square were given an ideal opportunity to bounce back from last week’s disappointing defeat to local rivals Carrick Rovers in the NEFL Division 1 as they travelled to Meath to face the Division 4 strugglers. While Square have mostly thrived in league action this season, BMC are winless in six league outings in the fifth tier.
However, in horrible weather conditions, the home side went in front early and pushed Square all the way. Forward MacNeill equalised with a superb strike from outside the area to leave the sides level at the break.
Square were dealt a serious blow to their hopes of cup progress early in the second half when centre half Quinn was dismissed. Quinn picked up his second yellow card for what looked like an accidental handball. The defender was rightfully aggrieved as he left the field of play.
BMC United took the lead with the resultant penalty and would double their lead with another penalty award soon after. The visitors were given a lifeline when striker Kerley bagged his second first team goal of the campaign with then minutes remaining.
In a busy encounter for referee Dowd, there was still time for him to point to the spot once more. In the last minute of the game, MacNeill was fouled and left-back Clarke took the responsibility to fire home and leave the scores at 3-3.
That came after a decision, considered in the Square camp “outrageous”, to rule out substitute Brian Corcoran’s late goal. However, on a pitch that left much to be desired, Square weren’t left to rue that decision as they struck twice in extra time.
A superb pass from another replacement Benny Curtis played in MacNeill for his second of the game to hand Square the lead early on and as the clocked ticked towards 120 minutes, Caraher’s cross was deflected in by a BMC United defender, with Rooney in close attendance.
Ophelia may have been 24 hours away at this point but the swirling wind and driving rain did Square no favours, however their cup progress is confirmed. They will be hoping for a home draw in the second round, to avoid playing on the hill they had to contend with in Dunshaughlin.
SQUARE UNITED: Niall Carrie, Jamie Rooney, Mark Quinn, Martin Duffy, Paudy Clarke, Jordan Brady, Andy Rogers, James Clarke, Josh Martin, Darren MacNeill, Aaron Kerley.
Subs: Benny Curtis, Dermot Caraher, Brian Corcoran.
Thanks to Lisa Conlon from Square United for her additional reporting.