St Oliver Plunketts 3

Tummery Athletic 4

A Ruairi Sludden hat-trick helped Tummery reach the semi-final of Irish Junior Cup for the first time. The Fermanagh and Western side trailed 3-1 early in the second half, but hit back through Emmett McNabb and Sludden to reach the last four.

Manager Gerry Love believed his side were worthy winners on the day. “Overall I think we fully deserved to win,” he said. “There was never a stage in the game when I felt we were completely dead and buried. Even at 3-1 down I felt we would get chances and when we came back to 3-2 I knew we would score again. We could have even added a fourth of fifth.”

The quarter final victory has taken Tummery one step closer to lifting the cup, and the manager is hopeful they can go all the way. “At this stage you have to keep your feet on the ground and be very level headed, but there are four teams left and every one of those four will have aspirations of going the whole way,” he admitted. “It’s a month away and that is a long time in football but we are in a confident mood in this moment in time.”

Tummery were obviously up for the challenge from the opening exchanges, and they made the dream start when they took an early lead. Ruairi Sludden picked up the ball thirty yards from goal, and he raced past two covering defenders before firing a low shot into the bottom corner of the net. The home side came to life after conceding and responded well. In a dramatic first half they hit back with two quick fire strikes, the first coming from a low cross into the penalty area and the second a spectacular drive from long range. Catterson in the Tummery goal was the busier of the two keepers, producing a fine fingertip save before the half time interval to ensure the deficit was only one goal at half time.

It looked as though Tummery may be heading out of the cup when the home team scored a third early in the second half, but despite the setback, the Fermanagh and Western side continued to battle and got their reward. Emmet McNabb pulled one back when his shot was deflected past the Plunkett’s keeper, and Sludden netted the equaliser, picking himself up after being fouled to fire the free kick into the back of the net.

Boosted by the comeback Tummery were on the front foot and looked the more likely to score. It did not take long before Sludden grabbed his hatrick, running onto a through ball and coolly slotting the ball past the keeper to give his team the lead.

There was still a quarter of the match to play, but Tummery defended well and held onto their advantage to take the win and move into the semi-final of the Junior Cup for the first time in the club’s history.