A last-gasp Charlie Heffernan penalty save helped the Waterford FC U17s into the semi-final of the Mark Farren Under-17 Cup after a 2-1 win at home to unbeaten Northern Elite Division leaders St Patrick’s Athletic on Wednesday evening.
Colm Whelan scored a brilliant first half double that, coupled with Heffernan’s late penalty save, was good enough to see Waterford FC book their spot in the last four.
St Pat’s started the game on the front foot and won a corner kick out on the left on four minutes that saw Cian Higgins whip a ball to the back post that found the head of Seanie Mahon but his header was into the sidenetting.
Blues keeper Charlie Heffernan was called upon to make a smart save two minutes later when Mahon got free down the right channel to put a ball to the near post for Anto Purdy but he couldn’t get a proper connection on his shot that was saved.
Purdy turned brilliantly inside the penalty area when reacting to a right-wing cross from Padraig Finnerty on 13 minutes but after bringing the ball onto his left-foot, his low shot was well held by keeper Heffernan.
After withstanding the pressure from the visitors, the Blues struck the front on 27 minutes when Jack Larkin put in a brilliant delivery from the right that found the head of Colm Whelan and he powered a header to the net from eight yards past Pats keeper Brian Maher.
The Saints conceded for the second time in the game four minutes before the sound of the half time whistle when Ciarán Brennan was fouled 30-yards from goal and Colm Whelan beat keeper Maher with a stunning effort that flew into the top left-corner of the net.
Waterford had their lead halved on 43 minutes when defender Adam Conway brought down attacker Mark Kelly inside the area and it was Cian Higgins that took the resulting spot kick that only just beat keeper Charlie Heffernan.
St Pats should have levelled the tie with eight minutes played in the second half when the ball fell nicely at the feet of Anto Purdy eight yards from goal but he shot straight at keeper Heffernan when he looked certain to score.
Jack Larkin slipped the ball into the path of Colm Whelan on the left-side of the penalty area minutes later but the centre forward fired over before the same player got his head to a Regix Madika cross from the left on 71 minutes however he headed straight at Brian Maher.
It was Larkin and Whelan that combined superbly well to carve out another great chance ten minutes from time but his effort was deflected out for a corner kick before Charlie Heffernan produced a stunning save to tip an effort from Conor Cowley as the game entered the final minute.
There was deafening silence over the Village Grounds in the third minute of added time when referee Andrew Mullally awarded the Saints their second penalty of the tie when he judged Torik Adegoke to have handled but Charlie Heffernan dived superbly to his right to make a wonderful save to ensure a place in the semi-final.
Waterford FC: Charlie Heffernan, Kallum Broaders (Darryl Walsh 60), Torik Adegoke, Adam Conway, Dean Beresford, Greg Waters, Jack Larkin, Lee Costello (Regix Madika 60), Darragh Power, Colm Whelan, Ciaran Brennan (Mike Nzongong 83)
St Patrick’s Athletic: Brian Maher, Cian Lee, Aaron McGrath, Seanie Maher, Richie O’Farrell, Mark Kelly, Conor Cowley, Anto Purdy, Cian Higgins, Padraig Finnerty, Kevin O’Reilly
Referee: Andrew Mullally, assisted by Adam Tszample and Gary Fitzgerald