St. Patrick's Athletic U17s advanced to the semi-finals of the Mark Farren Memorial Cup after a thrilling 4-3 win in Cork on Tuesday night.
Pat's were leading 4-1 with four minutes left, but were made to sweat it out as the home side scored late goals in the 87th and 91st minutes to set up a nervy finish.
Neill Byrne gave the Saints a 6th minute lead when he headed a perfect Jason Grouse cross into the corner.
City piled on the pressure thereafter and a Ryan Burke foul presented them with a penalty to equalise midway through the opening 45 minutes.
Pat's however regained the lead four minutes after half-time as Byrne scored again after beating the keeper one on one to finish to the corner.
The Saints' striker grabbed his athird after another clinical counter attack before his cross set up John Martin to make it 4-1.
Cork rallied however and got one back from a corner to make it 4-2 with three minutes remaining before they made it 4-3 in the 92nd minute.
Cork were then awarded a free-kick in the middle of the pitch four minutes into injury time, they played another long ball into the box but Pat's goalkeeper Brian Maher made a brilliant catch which signalled the final whistle.
Pat's manager Jamie Moore spoke to stpatsfc.com after the game and expressed his delight at the side's progress to the Semi-Finals. "I'm really proud of the players. Cork away was the most difficult draw we could have got and we passed the test with flying colours, not just playing our usual passing football, but also show and grit and determination to win the fight before the match."
"It was a really tight first half but we were brilliant in the second period to score three top class goals to go 4-1 up, I don't think this Cork team have been 4-1 down too often as I think Tuesday night was their first defeat of the season."
"We made things difficult for ourselves in the last couple of minutes and I was a nervous man when they lashed that long ball into the box at 4-3 but thankfully we held on for a deserved if not such a comfortable win."
After the superb display from striker Neill Byrne, Moore highlighted his impact on the game and throughout the season to date, as well as praising his side for their attacking play.
"I don't often single out individual players as we are a team but I need to mention Neill Byrne, who has been fantastic up front for us this season, his hat-trick last night really gave us a chance to advance, he promised me before the game that he'd score two and he did even better than that, he's playing with so much confidence and that's key for a striker."
"Three of our four goals came from crosses and our wide attacking play is something we work a lot on, Josh Hogan, Jason Grouse and Cian McMullen are the best players in their position in the country and their pace is a real feature of our positive play."
"The back four and midfield players and Brian in goal were all very solid as we had to deal with a lot of long balls but they defended well for the majority of the game."
That win over a Cork City team who are at the top of the SSE Airtricity League Southern Division, sends the Saints into the last four of the Mark Farren Memorial Cup, where they'll meet either Sligo Rovers, Bohemians or Cobh Ramblers.
"I doesn't matter who we get in the draw to be honest, whoever we get will be a very difficult game at this stage of the competition. Bohs and Sligo are both in our league and we've beaten both of them this season, but they were all tight matches that we had to work very hard to win, while Cobh are flying and beat Rovers on Tuesday night."
"We'll take great confidence from beating UCD, Dundalk and then Cork in this competition so far, the lads are one game away from a final and we are all really looking forward to that semi and also the remainder of our league campaign."
The Saints next fixture is against Northern Division title rivals Bohemians, with the game taking place on Sunday in IT Blanchardstown on Sunday at 2pm.
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