Masks on the bus up, a 25-minute injury delay, facing a top Dublin club away… how defiant Douglas Hall upset the odds
DOUGLAS HALL manager Michael Nason hailed the “immense spirit” of his side after they booked their spot in the FAI Youth Challenge Cup semi-final with a 4-2 win over Crumlin United at Pearse Park on Sunday.
Having claimed the scalp of Letterkenny Rovers in the previous round, the Leesiders pulled off another massive result to advance into the final four. The early signs were ominous when a Ryan Gannon penalty gave Crumlin the lead, but Douglas proceeded to take a firm stranglehold on the contest.
“The lads came up from Cork. Travelled up with masks in a bus, which isn’t easy.
“Coming up against a very good Dublin team. 1-0 down and we come back to win the game 4-2 with a couple of injuries. Immense spirit,” Nason acknowledged after the game.
“Our last game was away to Letterkenny. Seven hours journey up and seven hours down. That’s difficult. I’m thrilled, I’m absolutely thrilled. They just respect each other so well and it’s a fantastic result.”
With just over an hour gone, Douglas received a massive setback when David Debuf suffered a suspected broken ankle. When action resumed after 25 minutes, it was Brian O’Neill who took his place.
The striker’s own injury woes had looked set to rule him out of contention, but he repaid the Douglas management with a crucial second-half goal.
“We weren’t going to play him, but he said he was up for it. Said he had about 10 minutes. He felt he could impact the game and went on and did it,” Nason explained.
“Every one of them, when they were asked to go in, moved things around and they did a great job.”
After waiting more than four months for this quarter-final encounter, Douglas will have momentum at their disposal as they push forward into the penultimate phase of the competition. The full weight of the Moneygourney club has been behind the team in recent weeks and Nason feels Sunday’s victory wouldn’t have been possible without their support.
“Everyone has been affected by Covid, but we got back to work about six, seven weeks ago. The club has been brilliant. The senior team, junior team, U17s who are in the National Cup next week, all helped us with preparation. Our captain is actually not available to us, Anton [Frank].
“He would make a massive difference. They’ll now be in a semi-final. It’s all to play for.
“You go to Letterkenny and win, you go to Dublin and win, but they’re level headed. No complacency.
“Let’s enjoy today. I’m exhausted! It has been a tough couple of weeks just to get them back in shape,” Nason added.