Charlie Heffernan wast the Blues’ U-17 hero with two penalty saves against Dundalk at the RSC on Saturday last.
SSE Airtricity Under 17 National League Quarter-final
WATERFORD FC 1
JACK LARKIN `57
MARK TRAYNOR `17
WATERFORD FC WIN 4-3 ON PENALTIES
Two magnificent penalty saves from Waterford FC goalkeeper Charlie Heffernan helped his side progress into the semi-final of the SSE Airtricity Under 17 National League after the Blues got the better of Dundalk after a dramatic penalty shootout at the RSC on Saturday afternoon last.
After Kallum Broaders missed the second spot-kick for the hosts in the shootout, it was Heffernan that saved the last two penalties with his final stop to somehow tip Kevin Kelly’s effort around the posts a real joy to behold as the Mark Farren cup champions can now look forward to a crack at a league semi-final.
The Blues started the game on the front foot and created the first chance on ten minutes when Oisin Knox got his head on the end of a left-wing delivery from Greg Waters but Dundalk keeper David Odumosu did well to save his effort.
It was Dundalk that struck the front seven minutes later with their first meaningful attack as Luke Byrne sent in a corner kick from the right that found the head of defender Mark Traynor and he powered an unstoppable header to the roof of Heffernan’s net.
With the visitors looking comfortable for long stages of that first-half, Colm Whelan did have a chance to level matter four minutes before the break when he cracked in a free-kick from outside the penalty area but keeper David Odumosu got down well to save.
The Blues could have levelled with 48 minutes on the clock when Jack Larkin floated over a cross from the left which was met by Colm Whelan that saw his header strike the underside of the crossbar before bouncing down on the line but assistant referee Paul Butler judged that the effort didn’t cross the line.
Colm Whelan almost scored the goal of the season five minutes later when the striker went on amazing run from deep inside his own penalty area but despite skipping past five tackles, his left-footed shot on the run was turned out for a corner-kick.
The Blues did get the equalising goal that they deserved on 57 minutes when Lee Costello got space out on the right and when he played the ball into the six yards box Jack Larkin found a little bit of space to side-foot the ball to the net.
Regix Madika and Jack Larkin again went close afterwards and Darragh Power had a glorious chance to win the game 12 minutes from the final whistle but he shot straight at David Odumosu with the goal at his mercy before Adam Conway had an effort deep into the second-half extra-time however his effort was superbly saved.
The shootout saw Waterford go first with Colm Whelan and Adam Kirwan both successful for their respective teams before Kallum Broaders had his spot kick saved and Jamie Browne made no mistake for Dundalk to put the Oriel Park club in the driving seat.
Mike Nzongong and Neil Kerr both found the net with the third kicks for their teams before Adam Conway rattled the net with Waterford’s fourth spot kick and Charlie Heffernan then saved brilliantly from Peter Shields and at this stage it was all level at 3-3.
Jack Larkin hammered home Waterford’s fifth penalty kick so it came down once again to Charlie Heffernan as he brilliantly turned Kevin Kelly’s effort around the posts to bring to an end a remarkable triumph for the Blues and a place in the last four for the National title.
WATERFORD FC: Charlie Heffernan, Kallum Broaders, Lee Costello (Torik Adegoke `80), Adam Conway, Darragh Power, Greg Waters, Jack Larkin, Dean Beresford, Oisin Knox (Mike Nzongong `79), Colm Whelan, Regix Madika (Jack O’Donnell `88)
DUNDALK: David Odumosu, Neil Kerr, Christian Jones, Mark Traynor, James Prendergast, Luke Doherty (Jamie Browne `24), Jamie Wynne, Chris McFadden, Luke Graham (Adam Kirwan `97), Luke Byrne (Peter Shields `60) (Daniel Bogdamous `81), Kevin Kelly.
Referee: Pat O’Connor assisted by Paul Butler and Gavin Keyes.