00:00 Saturday 06 March 2010 

Plenty drama in cup ties

THERE was drama aplenty in the four Beamish Cup quarter-final ties that were played last Sunday with Skibbereen, Bunratty United, Drinagh Rangers and Molaga clinching their places in the last four of the prestigious cup competition after a feast of soccer.

Skibbereen prevailed following a dramatic encounter played in Rathravane last Sunday afternoon. In a game that started at a pedestrian pace and ended at a break-neck speed, this game produced a cup classic but ultimately ended in heartbreak for Ballydehob when Alan Sheehy struck the decisive winning goal in the last minute of extra-time. This game ebbed and flowed from end to end with both keepers Damien Long and James McCarthy being called into action on a regular basis whilst both teams hit the post as well to ensure extra-time was required to separate these two evenly matched sides who always provide compelling viewing when they meet.

The pace of the game continued unabated in extra-time with both teams crafting chances. Skibbereen were presented with a glorious chance to take the lead in the fifth minute of extra-time when Andy Hodnett was felled in the penalty area but Hob custodian Long produced a terrific penalty save to deny James Reen. With the game seemingly destined for the dreaded penalty shoot out, Hob will feel particulary aggrieved about the controversional nature of the winning goal as the ball appeared to touch a Skibbereen player's hand in the build up to Sheehy's winning goal, who did very well to turn in a J.P Reen cross.

Alan Sheehy was in particular very impressive throughout and led the line well for a very strong Skibbereen team who are bidding to clinch the Beamish Cup for the first time in their history. Ballydehob will have to content themselves with attempting to salvage their season with a sustained challenge for premier league success but their season appears in grave danger of petering out as injuries and suspensions mount up to an already threadbare squad. However the performances of young stars Sonny O'Regan and Stephen O'Mahony offer great encouragement for their future.

Bunratty United cruised to a comfortable 3-0 home win against Clonakilty AFC to lay strong claims of mounting a sustained bid for cup glory. Colm Cleary opened the scoring in the 49th minute with a powerful header from a pinpoint David O'Farrell cross. Clonakilty pressed hard for an equaliser but were repelled by the heroics of home keeper Darren O'Mahony who produced impressive saves to deny Eoghan Greene and Tim McDermott respetively. With Clonakilty committed to all-out attacking, they were stretched defensively which Bunratty exploited to perfection. Right back John O'Farrell struck a fantastic long range strike in the 76th minute before Colm Cleary struck his second goal of the game in the 85th minute to seal a deserved triumph for Bunratty.

Drinagh Rangers cruised to a 3-0 home win over second division outfit Castlelack to maintain their very realistic hopes of annexing a dream league and cup double. Adrian O'Driscoll, Eamonn Connolly and Tomás Connolly netted to secure a routine win for the premier league leaders. Molaga Celtic needed penalties to overcome a stern challenge posed by Casteltown Celtic to clinch their passage to the semi-finals. The division one league leaders triumphened 4-2 on penalties after the game ended scoreless after 120 minutes. Whilst Molaga, due to their first division status, remain outsiders for Beamish Cup glory they have enjoyed a dream season thus far and will relish the opportunity to turn over premier league opposition in the semi-final stages.

The scene is nicely poised for two semi-final ties which should provide compelling entertaining with all four teams left in the tournament quietly dreaming of cup success.

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