Author: Julian Lee

Johnstown Take Spoils In Basement Battle

Thanks to a brace of goals from Arnold Luco and a solitary strike from Adam Ivers, Johnstown saw off the challenge of bottom side Navan Town in their O’Neills Sportswear Division 1 tie at the MDL on a freezing cold Friday night.

The home side’s first came with less than 100 seconds on the clock. Having initially lost the ball, Vinny Murphy regained possession with a determined tackle on half way and fed Lee Fahy. Fahy showed excellent vision and with a precise through ball released Arnold Luco, who streaked away from the defenders and coolly picked his spot across the keeper, opening the scoring.

Murphy almost doubled Johnstown’s lead just 2 minutes later. Great work on the right between Andre Sirb and Luco, saw the latter cross to the back post where the awaiting Murphy volleyed just wide.

It was not all one way traffic, and for the next 15 minutes, Navan Town looked more likely to equalise than Johnstown were to increase their lead. However, they never really troubled the Johnstown net.

With 26 minutes gone, the flash point which effectively decided the game arrived. After a clash on the half way line, Jamie Connolly and his opposite number went toe to toe and exchanged some verbals. All harmless and would have resulted in nothing more than a yellow apiece until have run 30 yards to get involved, a Navan Town front man blindsided Connolly with a shoulder in the back running at pace. The interloper saw red, literally and figuratively.

When the football resumed, Johnstown controlled what remained of the half with both Murphy and Halligan unlucky not to double their lead.

Navan Town did have a chance late on to make their hosts rue those missed opportunities. Having beaten the Johnstown back line, and faced with a 1-on-1 chance the front man pulled his effort wide and Johnstown survived to half time with a 1 goal lead.

10 minutes after the restart, Dan Halligan and Josh Gaffney combined well on the left resulting in a cross into the area where the awaiting Luco could only volley over from close range.

As the game entered its final quarter, Johnstown’s numerical advantage began to show. First a passage of play where numerous Johnstown players were lined up waiting to score, but none could dispatch their shot as Navan Town threw their bodies on the line, until Halligan, free on the left side of the area, hit his shot only to see it career back off the post.

Finally, the visitors’ resistance was broken with 19 minutes to go. Darren McQuillan began the move carrying the ball out from the back. Dan Halligan found Adam Ivers on the right. Facing down the keeper, Ivers’ first effort hit the post but luckily came straight back to him. He made no mistake the second time and put Johnstown 2 to the good.

2 minutes later, Johnstown were 3 up. A Bryan Gibney corner was thumped into the net by the head of Luco, a finish rarer than an honest politician.

On a bitterly cold night, the only one seemingly unaffected by the conditions was the referee who insisted on playing 7 minutes injury time despite the promised warmth of indoors. Eventually he blew the final whistle giving Johnstown their first win since September.

Johnstown FC Team: D. Shields, D. Bollard, J. Gaffney, D. McQuillan (c), J. Forde, J. Connolly, L. Fahy, V. Murphy, A. Sirb, D. Halligan, A. Luco
Subs: B. Gibney for Sirb, A. Ivers for Murphy, J. McDonnell for Gaffney, P. Dempsey for Halligan, W. Cahill for Bollard.

Johnstown Make it 4 from 4 in September

In form Johnstown made it 4 wins on the bounce with a hard fought win over Carrick Rovers by the odd goal in five in their O’Neill’s Sportswear Division 1 encounter at the MDL on Friday night.

The opening quarter was littered missed opportunities from both sides as they each tried to take control of the game.

Just after the half hour mark, Johnstown hit the front. Having been up field for a corner, Darren McQuillan found himself in possession in the Carrick area. His quick feet and nimble turn bamboozled the visiting defender who clumsily brought Johnstown’s captain down, leading the referee to point to the spot.

After a brief conversation between Murphy and Luco, the latter eventually dispatched the spot kick low to the keeper’s right giving his side the lead.

5 minutes later, Johnstown were 2 up. Vinny Murphy was tripped in the area. A second spot kick was awarded and having won the penalty, there was no need for any consultation on the taker. Murphy strode up and converted with ease.

Being 2 down at the interval, Carrick Rovers come out for the second half and increased their work rate. Within 5 minutes, they had pulled one back. A cross from out on their left eluded the Johnstown defence and found their man unmarked at the back post. Although Dan Shields saved marvellously from the first effort, with no one following in, the Monaghan man tapped in the rebound.

Within a minute, Johnstown almost restored their 2 goal cushion. An insightful through ball from Jason Colton freed Pierce Challenger. Under pressure from a couple of defenders, Challenger’s shot was saved by the visiting keeper.

Soon after, Johnstown were left rueing this missed effort as Carrick equalised. Again causing trouble on the Johnstown right, Carrick hit a low driven cross into the 6 yard area to the back post where, in his efforts to clear, Josh Gaffney could only find the back of his own net.

In fact, the score line could have gotten worse had Dan Shields not been on hand to steer a dipping shot from 20 yards, over the bar.

With the game entering its’ final quarter, the home side regained their lead. Making amends for his earlier mishap, Josh Gaffney drove powerfully forward before releasing Murphy on the left. Murphy beat a couple of defenders before pulling the ball back to the awaiting Luco. Without hesitation, Luco threw a long leg out and directed the ball into the net, securing the points for his side.

Johnstown FC Team: D. Shields, J. Colton, D. Grumley, D. McQuillan (c), J. Gaffney, P. Challenger, S. Challenger, B. Gibney, V. Murphy, K. Zeberek, A. Luco
Subs: L. Fahy for Gibney, J. Connolly for Grumley, D. Bollard for P. Challenger, J. Forde for Colton, D. Halligan for Murphy.

Johnstown Too Strong For Fort Rangers

Johnstown welcomed Kilkenny side Fort Rangers to the MDL for their LFA junior Cup 1st Round tie on Sunday afternoon.

Despite creating a number of chances, the home side’s solitary first half strike from Arnold Luco was cancelled out by the visitors leaving the game evenly poised at 1 apiece at the interval.

The second half saw Johnstown’s inability to convert chances continue as first, Sean Challenger, twice denied by the keeper, and then Kacper Zeberek, his headed effort cleared off the line, failed to restore the hosts’ lead.

Midway through the half, Johnstown were almost left to rue their profligacy. A quick break down their left, followed by a cross to the back post produced a shot that needed a fine save from Dan Shields.

Shortly after, the chance of the match fell to Fort Rangers. Another attack on the left finished with the winger pulling the ball back to an unmarked onrushing midfielder. With the goal at his mercy, the Kilkenny man could only steer his effort on to the upright, leaving Johnstown unable to believe their luck.

2 minutes later, substitute Adam Foy, with his first touch restored Johnstown’s lead, tapping in a Luco cross at the back post.

As the game wore on, and with the visiting team beginning to fade, Johnstown could have scored their third as chances went a begging.

With 6 minutes left, their third did arrive putting the game to bed. Zeberek jumped with the keeper in an effort to get something on Sean Challenger’s corner. This left Zeberek on the ground but the ball fell nicely for him to volley over his head into the net.

Johnstown could have added a fourth when Foy’s quick feet released Zeberek. Unfortunately on this occasion the keeper got a strong to his shot, making sure the score line remained 3-1.

Johnstown FC Team: D. Shields, J. Colton, D. Grumley, D. McQuillan (c), J. Gaffney, S. Challenger, B. Gibney, V. Murphy, P. Challenger, K. Zeberek, A. Luco
Subs: D. Halligan for Murphy, A. Foy for Gibney.

Johnstown Take Derby Spoils

Johnstown made it 2 wins in 10 days with an emphatic 4-0 derby victory over local rivals Navan Town at the MDL on Sunday.
Right from the off, Johnstown dominated possession but could have been 2 down in opening quarter of an hour as Navan hit out on the break.

One of these chances needed Dan Shields to be at his most alert. A deep free kick was played into the area where it was steered goalward only for Shields to dive to his right and keep it out.

Johnstown’s dominance was rewarded when Arnold Luco opened the scoring with 19 minutes played. A strong run by the front man beat 2 Navan Town players. He passed to Dylan Bollard, who returned the ball for Luco to finish inside the area.

5 minutes later, Johnstown were 2 to the good. Kacper Zeberek unleashed an unstoppable shot from 20 yards that flew in at the keeper’s near post.

It could have been worse for Navan Town had first Luco, whose shot was cleared off the line, and then Bollard, denied by the strong hand of the keeper, converted chances late in the half, however it remained 2-0 at the break.

Soon after the restart Shields was called on again. A quick break up field by Navan Town required the intervention of the Johnstown custodian with a low save to preserve Johnstown’s clean sheet.

As the half wore on, Johnstown’s superiority was evident if not illustrated by the score line as the in-form Navan keeper thwarted efforts from Luco, Zeberek and Sean Challenger.

Reward for their commanding display came on 70 minutes. A neat combination between Challenger & Luco led to a corner which was swung into a packed 6 yard box. The keeper failed to claim the cross which dropped to Jonathan Forde to finish first time at the back post.

2 minutes later, it was 4-0 to Johnstown. Kacper Zeberek set off on a solo run beating a number of defenders before finishing comfortably, his second of the day.

Although Navan Town still posed a threat on the break, the superb display by the defence as a unit ensured a very pleasing first clean sheet of the season as they look forward to next week’s LFA junior cup tie at home to Fort Rangers.

Johnstown FC Team: D. Shields, J. Colton, J. Connolly, J. Forde, J. Gaffney, D. McQuillan (c), S. Challenger, D. Bollard, V. Murphy, K. Zeberek, A. Luco
Subs: P. Challenger for Murphy, D. Grumley for S. Challenger.

Murphy’s Strike Ends Johnstown’s Barren Run

A dramatic injury time winner from Vinny Murphy clinched all 3 points for Johnstown as they finally opened their account this season, with a 5 goal thriller at the MDL on Thursday night.

The night began in familiar fashion. A loose ball in midfield was pounced on by the visitors. A couple of quick passes later, their front man was released and bearing down on goal. With Dan Shields backpedalling frantically, the Trim man’s effort came back off the crossbar. An early scare for Johnstown.

Soon after though, Trim Town hit the front. A quick break, followed by an unstoppable shot from just inside the area left Shields unable to keep it out at his near post with barely a quarter of an hour played.

As the clock ticked onto 30 minutes, a rather unsavoury incident on half way lead to the visitors being reduced to 10 men for striking out at Jason Colton on the ground.

Colton was involved in a more positive aspect of the game just before the interval. Following his strong run down the right, he fed Justin Flynn whose shot did not trouble the keeper.

With the numerical advantage, Johnstown started the 2nd half strongly. A Peter Dempsey lay off to Vinny Murphy led to the latter’s shot being deflected wide for a corner. The corner eventually broke to Sean Challenger on the edge of the area where he attempted to place his shot inside the left hand corner of the goal. However, on this occasion he could not impart enough bend on his effort and it went narrowly wide.

10 minutes into the half, Johnstown were level. A rapier-like break out from the back saw Wayne Cahill release Murphy down the left. His driven low cross found Dempsey at the back post. Illustrating an unselfish steak, the veteran teed up the onrushing Brian Gibney who finished off the move drawing his side level.

Just after the hour mark, Johnstown conceded a soft free kick about 25 yards from goal. The shot was spilled and with no Johnstown players following in, Trim Town were left with a simple tap in to restore their lead.

Johnstown’s second equaliser came on 74 minutes thanks to 2 second half substitutes. Arnold Luco, returning from injury, beat a couple of defenders down the right before picking out Dave Grumley, free in the area. With time to settle, Grumley blasted the ball home making 2-2.

For the rest of the match, Johnstown pressed and probed but could not find a finishing touch, all the while Trim Town were dangerous on the break, until the final moments of the game.

With 4 minutes of injury time elapsed, a Jamie Connolly cross to the back post, was met by Dave Grumley with the goal gaping. Showing the intelligence and experience garnered from many a year playing at his level, Grumley, rather than going for goal with defenders and keeper closing the available target, picked out Vinny Murphy with his header back across goal. Murphy, not needing a 2nd invitation, drilled home the winner, cueing celebrations among players, staff and supporters on the touchline, born as much from relief as from joy.

Johnstown FC Team: D. Shields, J. Colton, J. Connolly, D. McQuillan (c), J. Gaffney, J. Flynn, S. Challenger, B. Gibney, P. Dempsey, V. Murphy, W. Cahill
Subs: A. Luco for Flynn, D. Grumley for Dempsey, J. Forde for Gaffney .

Johnstown Fall to Local Rivals

Another Thursday night of misery for all involved with Johnstown as their winless streak continued. This week’s visitors, leaving with all 3 points after a competitive local derby were Kentstown Rovers.

The home side were largely in control from the off. Despite their possession, Johnstown just could not break down the well organised Kentstown defence until midway through the first half when Wayne Cahill latched onto a decisive pass from captain Sean Challenger. Unfortunately for his side, Cahill just could not keep his shot down to trouble Darren Lynch in the visitors’ net.

The only goal of the game came with 8 minutes of the half remaining. A free kick on halfway was launched high into the Johnstown area. Keeper Dan Shields came out to clear however a Kentstown head beat him to it. The ball broke to Stephen Cummins who volleyed home into an unguarded net.

Early in the second half, a short corner routine led to Dylan Bollard’s driven shot destined for the top corner until intervention of the Kentstown keeper, clawing the ball wide for a corner.

Half time substitute Peter Dempsey had 2 good efforts around the hour mark. His first followed a good strong run on the ball. Sadly, he did not connect as he’d have liked and his shot was rather tame and straight at the keeper. His 2nd chance in this spell, with the aid of a deflection, momentarily troubled the keeper but he recovered and saved comfortably.

As the game wore on, Johnstown threw more and more bodies forward in search of the equaliser but still could not find the breakthrough. Kentstown, dangerous on the counter attack, almost doubled their lead in the final moments.

An intercepted pass in their defensive third lead to them racing the length of the field. As the visiting player entered the Johnstown area, he pulled his shot wide. This miss was not to prove costly however, as the final whistle went moments later condemning the hosts to their 5 defeat in a row.

Johnstown FC Team: D. Shields, J. Colton, J. Connolly, J. Gaffney, D. Bollard, J. McLoughlin, S. Challenger (c), B. Gibney, D. Halligan, V. Murphy, W. Cahill
Subs: P. Dempsey for McLoughlin, L. Kelly for Halligan, D. Grumley for Murphy, S. Brazil for Gaffney.

Emphatic Enfield Take Points

A defeat is only a loss if you fail to learn from it, and so far this season Johnstown have had ample lessons to learn.

It was another disappointing outing for Johnstown this week, succumbing to a second successive heavy defeat at home in their O’Neill’s Sportswear Division 1 clash on Thursday night with Enfield the victors, winning out 5 goals to 2.

A promising start by the home side saw Justin Flynn shoot narrowly wide from distance as the visiting keeper scrambled to cover his net with just 2 minutes passed.

Shortly after, the visiting side began to take control and but for a superb sliding block/tackle by Dylan Bollard on 8 minutes, they could have taken the lead. A dangerous cross from their right eluded everyone in the box except for the lurking attacker on the back post. His instant control and shot required Bollard to be at his most alert to block the shot before it could reach Dan Shields in the home side’s goal.

As another few minutes elapsed, Enfield again found themselves free in the area. Living up to his name, Shields stood tall and batted away the shot to his right, keeping the game scoreless.

However, the pressure from Enfield was soon to pay off as midway through the first half they took the lead. A missed clearance in the back line was pounced upon. The visiting striker took full advantage of the error and comfortably took his chance.

Just before the half hour mark, Johnstown won a corner on the right. As the cross entered the 6 yard box, and under no pressure from the home side, an Enfield defender lucklessly steered into his own net bringing the hosts level.

Within 10 minutes, Enfield restored their lead. A free awarded just inside their half was launched long and high into the Johnstown area where it was met by an unmarked visiting head. Enfield were quickest to react to the flick on and one easy turn saw them 1-on-1 with Shields who could do little as the ball was hammered past him from close range.

It was to get worse for Johnstown just before the break as another individual error , this time a missed header, freed up the Enfield man wide on the right. His low ground cross found their man who managed to finish off the move with a rather clumsy finish despite McQuillan’s best efforts to exert pressure on him.

The second was to see more of the same. Individual and team errors punished ruthlessly by an efficient Enfield side.

The first of these came 3 minutes after the restart. A long throw was hurled into the Johnstown area and was met by the head of an unmarked man who flicked it straight into the net.

A carbon copy goal followed 10 minutes later as Enfield made it 5-1. Another throw in launched into the area, lax marking and no challenge as the ball was met by a free header. Shields could only watch before picking the ball out of his net for the 5th time of the night.

There was small consolation to come when Kacper Zeberek was felled in the area. He quickly dusted himself off before firing the penalty he had won into the net making it 5-2 with 9 minutes left.

Any hopes of a comeback were short lived however as Johnstown could not get any momentum or continuous flow to their game as Enfield remained in control for the remainder of the game.

Johnstown FC Team: D. Shields, J. Colton, D. McQuillan (c), J. Forde, J. Gaffney, D. Bollard, J. Flynn, S. Challenger, B. Gibney, K. Zeberek, D. Halligan
Subs: D. Grumley for McQuillan, W, Cahill for Flynn, A. Mooney for Halligan, L. Kelly for Gaffney.

Johnstown Treading Water as Kells Take Spoils

Johnstown’s poor start to the 2017/18 season continued as they slumped to their 3rd consecutive defeat in all competitions since action resumed, when newly promoted Kells/Blackwater ran out 4-1 winners at the MDL on Thursday night.

The opening skirmishes saw little in the way of goalmouth action with both sides looking comfortable in possession as they sought to get the measure of one another.

The visitors soon concentrated much of their attacking play down their right and it from this avenue they opened the scoring with barely 10 minutes on the clock. A cross from their right was inadequately defended and allowed to reach their man at the back post. No sooner had he taken the ball under control, the shot was released and required a fine save by Daniel Shields in the home net. However, his intervention was in vain as the ball rebounded to another attacker who had a simple task of slipping the ball home.

Mid-way through the half, Johnstown were level. Right back Jason Colton swung a super cross into the area where it was met by an excellent diving header from Kacper Zeberek which left the keeper with little chance.

Parity did not last long however and Kells/Blackwater were back in front within 4 minutes. A tussle on the left side of Johnstown’s box resulted in the visitors being awarded a free kick which many watching felt could have gone the other way. Another cross, another goal as the delivery was met by the firm head of Zeberek, putting into his own net cancelling out his earlier effort.

It was to get worse for the Johnstown keeper and his side just after the half hour mark when the visitors were awarded their first penalty of the evening. A well timed run from a Kells forward saw him meet a through ball. As Shields advanced, the attacker touched the ball past the Johnstown keeper. Although contact seemed minimal, the attacker went down and the referee pointed to the spot. The well struck penalty went in off the post, making it 3-1 as it was to remain at the interval.

Putting a disappointing 1st half behind them, Johnstown knew they had to come out in search of an early goal but despite their efforts their first opportunity to pull one back did not arrive until just shy of the hour.

A free kick out wide on the left was played into the area. This time, it was Kells/Blackwater whose defending was unconvincing and allowed Colton to fire a shot across goal. Standing 6 yards out, Zeberek threw a hopeful foot out as Colton’s shot flew past him but he could not redirect it on target.

Soon after, the visitors almost made it 4-1. A corner from their right was met in the area but all could only watch as it thundered back off the underside of the bar.

Their fourth came in the last few minutes of the match. A quick break down their left, saw Kells enter the home side’s area where their man was felled by an inviting leg. Again the referee showed little hesitation and awarded the second spot kick of the night which was duly converted, leaving the game to run out 4-1 to the visitors.

A disappointing night all round for Johnstown but little time to dwell as they will be firmly focussed on their next outing against Enfield next Thursday night.

Johnstown FC Team: D. Shields, J. Colton, D. McQuillan (c), J. Connolly, J. Gaffney, L. Kelly, P. Challenger, S. Challenger, W. Cahill, K. Zeberek, A. Luco
Subs: A. Mooney for Luco, D. Bollard for Kelly, B. Gibney for P. Challenger, M. Butler for Cahill, J. Forde for McQuillan.

Johnstown Fall To Cosmos Stars

On Friday night, Johnstown’s season came to a close with a heart breaking 2-1 defeat to Premier side Navan Cosmos in the Tully Challenge Cup semi final at the MDL.

This local derby began with the Premier side in full control and they could have been a goal up inside 3 minutes as they wasted a free header from 6 yards out. It was but a portent of things to come as Cosmos soon hit the front.

Just 9 minutes had elapsed when they attacked down the opposite flank. As they entered the area, they pulled the ball back where the finishing touch was applied, going in across goal. It was the reward their early dominance deserved.

Shortly afterwards, Johnstown nearly got on level terms. Sean Challenger, who has been immense in midfield all season, played Kacper Zeberek in on goal. His shot was well saved by the legs of the Cosmos custodian when he was through one on one.

Despite their dominance and ease of possession, Cosmos could not break through a well drilled Johnstown rearguard and chances were at a premium. Indeed, a very harshly awarded penalty on the half hour was Cosmos’ next opportunity to stretch their lead.

Just inside the area, a Cosmos player went down after the slightest touch from Aaron Mooney. The referee immediately pointed to the spot. Up stepped a very confident Cosmos player. However, his Panenka style penalty did not fool Dylan Byrne as he comfortable tipped the ball over.

A famous quote from basketball legend Michael Jordan says “It takes effort to win a game, but it takes courage to change the game”. Having been second best in all areas during the first half, Johnstown showed tremendous courage after the interval and changed the flow of the game entirely.

Very early on, some great play by Dylan Bollard and Aaron Mooney on Johnstown’s right saw Arnold Luco fire over but showed the intent that Johnstown were not lying down. Luco had another chance soon after. This time Zeberek’s strong run released Luco but his powerful shot was comfortably saved.

Cosmos rallied quickly and almost punished Johnstown for their 2 missed opportunities as they flooded forward. But for a last ditch tackle from the solid Jake McDermott, Cosmos could have been 2 clear.

On the hour, substitute Vinny Murphy was felled outside the box, on the right hand corner. Having only come on the pitch, his free kick cracked off the underside of the bar and away, with the keeper well beaten. Murphy showed he had the appetite to drag Johnstown back into the game.
Despite being quiet for much of the game, Dylan Byrne was called on twice in very short period of time as the game entered its last 15 minutes. First, he needed to be alert having seen a header late from a corner. Then in almost a carbon copy of their previous effort, Byrne flung himself across the face of his goal to claw away a thumping header from close range.

Those 2 saves gave Johnstown belief that it may be their night after all and continued to push forward.

Alas, with 8 minutes left, Cosmos broke quickly and released their front man who timed his run to perfection and left Johnstown offside line in tatters before slotting home despite Byrne’s best efforts to keep it out, doubling his side’s lead.

As the match entered injury time, hope was restored. A quick free kick from a position similar his earlier effort saw Murphy’s low driven shot be diverted into the net as another substitute, Josh Gaffney, apply the finishing touch to make it 2-1.

Sadly, the equaliser for the underdogs just would not come and Navan Cosmos held on to reach their third successive Tully Challenge Cup final, in which all at Johnstown would like to wish them the very best of luck.

And to our own team, hard luck but very well done on a hard season, with some highs, fewer lows, but many many great performances of which to be proud. Take the summer’s rest, come back stronger and ready for the push for promotion to the Premier Division next season.

Johnstown FC Team: D. Byrne, D. Bollard, J. Colton, J. Connolly, J. McDermott, D. McQuillan (c), W. Cahill, S. Challenger, A. Mooney, K. Zeberek, A. Luco.
Subs: V. Murphy for Mooney, D. Halligan for Cahill, A. Ivers for Bollard, J.Gaffney for McDermott.

Seniors First Team 15-16

Johnstown Dent Ardee Title Challenge

Following Tuesday night’s disappointing 4-2 reverse to Athboy, Johnstown welcomed title-chasers Ardee Celtic to the MDL on Friday night.

Determined to have some say in this season title race, Johnstown were much improved from their last outing and matched the visitors in all aspects in the early exchanges.

A quick corner routine between Sean Challenger, captain in the absence through injury of Darren McQuillan, and Arnold Luco led to the former seeing his fierce shot whistle narrowly wide with a quarter of an hour played.

10 minutes later, Johnstown opened the scoring. An Ardee Celtic corner produced a chance which Dylan Byrne gathered comfortably before his quick clearance found Challenger in midfield. His chipped pass, weighted perfectly over the retreating backline as Johnstown broke at speed, fell perfectly for top scorer Luco who blasted the ball past the keeper giving the home side the lead.

Shortly after, Luco should have doubled his tally for the evening. Vinny Murphy, tricky as ever crossed along the ground to Luco at the back post. Unfortunately, he could not keep his shot under the bar.

Ardee’s best chance of the half came just shy of the interval as they beat Johnstown’s offside line. Bearing down on Byrne in the Johnstown net, all in attendance could only watch as the attacker drilled his shot well wide.

The second half was played out in an increasingly tense fashion with few chances falling to either side until the mid way point. A long ball out by Ardee led to both home centre backs slipping, freeing the way forward for the Louth men. Only a last ditch tackle by Jake McDermott prevented the visitors getting their shot away.

Ardee continued to exert pressure as the second half wore on and on 72 minutes would have equalised but for Jay Colton’s goal-line clearance.

Unfortunately for Johnstown, that equaliser did arrive just 6 minutes later. A long free kick from Ardee was allowed to bounce in the area, before the visiting forward tucked the ball passed Byrne, drawing his side level.

With eyes firmly on the upcoming semi final against Navan Cosmos, Johnstown will be pleased with the improved level of performance and hope to have a fully fit side back in time for their cup tie.

Johnstown FC Team: D. Byrne, D. Bollard, J. Colton, J. Connolly, J. McDermott, D. Grumley, S. Challenger (c), V. Murphy, C. O’Sullivan, A. Ivers, A. Luco