Hoops hit back to book final place
The journey any team takes to a cup final is full of challenges, pitfalls, setbacks. The objective is to get over them. Cast the negatives aside and concentrate on the positives, match after match, round after round.
Trim Celtic are past masters at doing just that under manager Robbie Horgan. No matter what blow they ship, it seems, they are willing and able to recover. Their bouncebackability, their resilience is right up there.
Take this morning at Tully Park. They hosted Chord Celtic in the Challenge Cup semi-final. A big occasion for any club even for Trim Celtic who have become accustomed to big occasions in recent seasons.
Just three minutes in the home team, who had started brightly, are rocked back on their heels. They then concede a goal, scored from close range by Chord's Aaron Dale from a Jake Devine cross.
It was a setback, a blow no doubt and could have undermined the spirit and belief of a less composed, less motivated side.
It didn't knock the Hoops off their stride. They kept playing football. They stayed patient and were rewarded when they equalised just before the break. Anthony Moran whipped the ball into the box from a corner and there to head home was Ger Murray. Big Ger Murray, the defender turned goal poacher.
It stayed 1-1 at the break - and the Hoops were back in business. Instead of folding the home side were now right on track once more. They didn't become discouraged by the concession of an early goal.
A challenge, a test of the team's character (represented by the poor start) had been overcome. As the whistle sounded to signify the break (Trim Celtic went to their dressingroom, Chord stayed on the pitch) the question was could Trim Celtic push on from there and win the game?
Step forward Aaron Williams, their fast, powerfully-built, prolific striker. He fired home, not one but two goals in an eventful second-half. The first arrived on 59 minutes. Once again Moran whipped over from a corner and there was Williams to head home.
Minutes later the striker did it again. This time he, like all good strikers, sensed an opportunity when a Chord defender dallied just a micro-second or two too long on the ball. Williams honed in like a bee on a pot of honey and blocked the defender's attempted clearance. The ball broke upfield. Williams chased it down and cooly slotted past the advancing Chord 'keeper Dean Martin.
Chord did get a goal back on 72 minutes. The Trim Celtic defence got into a muddle in trying to clear a centre. Under extreme pressure goalkeeper Aaron Ryan sought to clear but instead the ball screwed off his fist and into the net. Did the Hoops panic? They don't do panic.
Instead they hit back to score two more and ended up winning 5-2. A silky Conor Walsh centre was glanced home by Murray and in injury time Luke Mahon finished with conviction from close range.
Trim Celtic defended stoutly when they needed. Unyielding. They created a host of chances with Brian Faulkner going close a number of times. Williams also went agoningsly close to getting a hat-trick.
The Celtic midfield were strong and inventive. Another reason why Trim Celtic overcame the considerable challenge presented by Chord and are now on the course for a Challenge Cup final appearance.
Trim Celtic - Aaron Ryan; Ciaran O'Connell, Eoin O'Connor, Ger Murray, Sean Fitzgerald, Conor Walsh, Wesley Gibbons, Callum Ennis, Aaron Williams, Brian Faulkner, Anthony Moran. Subs - Luke Mahon for Gibbons 82 mins, Oisin Devlin for Faulkner, Scott O'Leary for Moran both 89m, Alan Costello 92m.
Chord Celtic - Dean Martin; Jack Devine, Adam O'Connor, Dean Higgins, Morgan Browne, Neil Donnelly, Sevestian Beslic, Cormac Reid, Conor Parkinson, Brandon Sullivan, Aaron Dale. Subs - Sean Bannon for Dale 64 mins, Dylan Delaney for Beslic 84m.
Referee - Simon Halpenny; assistants - Brian Murphy, Thomas Little (all Louth Branch).
READ MORE ABOUT TRIM CELTIC AND THEIR JOURNEYS IN VARIOUS CUP COMPETITIONS IN THE NEXT ISSUE OF THE MEATH CHRONICLE