LYRE ROVERS 2
DRINAGH RANGERS 2
GER McCARTHY REPORTS
DRINAGH Rangers became 2018 PremierHiSpecCars.com West Cork League Premier Division champions following a pulsating 2-2 draw in front of a bumper crowd at Lyre Rovers.
The hosts, without injured duo Aidan Collins and Ian Falvey, kicked off last Sunday’s encounter knowing nothing but a victory would suffice in their attempts to take the WCL Premier Division title-race to a play-off.
For Drinagh, avoiding defeat would deliver another Premier Division trophy and the visitors began with the same starting 11 that overcame Skibbereen in the Beamish Cup semi-finals the previous weekend.
The game was eight minutes old when Drinagh came within a whisker of breaking the deadlock. Don O’Driscoll connected with a deep cross but his downward header was saved by goalkeeper Brian Walsh. O’Driscoll blazed the rebound wide and Rangers went even closer a minute later when a goalmouth scramble saw the ball twice cleared off the line and loud Drinagh protests that a Lyre defender’s hand was used to keep the score at 0-0.
Rovers struggled to get into their usual rhythm as Don O’Driscoll and Robert O’Regan controlled midfield and prompted successive attacks that Lyre’s back four did well to withstand. Barry O’Driscoll (H) was a constant threat whenever in possession but the home side saw out a difficult opening period before Johnny Leahy brought the best out of Robert Oldham from a free-kick.
A goal is all an entertaining game was missing until Lyre Rovers finally made the breakthrough after 32 minutes. Good approach work from Ricky O’Flynn ended with Thomas Clancy rising to head home and edge the hosts 1-0 in front.
Lyre’s failure to build on their lead was punished when Drinagh regrouped and equalised seven minutes after falling behind. Robbing possession deep in their half, Rangers worked the ball to the edge of the Lyre penalty box and Robert O’Regan found the bottom corner after Barry O’Driscoll’s initial effort was blocked. That strike brought an end to an engaging first 45 minutes with little to choose between the sides.
The Canon Crowley Park club restarted brightly with successive set-pieces requiring Lyre’s back four to clear their lines. Rovers responded with a Gearoid Barry free-kick that necessitated a Rob Oldham stop prior to Brian Walsh diving full-length to tip away a goal bound Tomás Connolly effort.
A tight encounter’s major turning point occurred shortly after when Drinagh’s Tomás Connolly was brought down and a penalty awarded. Barry O’Driscoll (H) took responsibility for the kick but Brian Walsh produced a ave to keep his team’s title aspirations alive.
That missed opportunity preceded a period in which both sides pushed hard for a second goal, Lyre from a series of corners and Drinagh on the counter-attack. Rovers has no choice but to commit additional players forward in the closing minutes but failure to conjure up a lead goal was punished when Drinagh broke clear to clinch the title in the final minute.
A flowing Rangers move ended with substitute Adrian O’Driscoll firing into an empty net and sparking wild celebrations. There was still time for one more twist to a dramatic game when Kevin Cormican volleyed in to make it 2-2 but Lyre Rovers had run out of time as the final whistle shrilled to confirm Drinagh Rangers champions of the West Cork League.
Lyre Rovers: Brian Walsh, Mike Keohane (captain), Cian O’Donovan, Ethan Draper, John Clancy, Gearoid Barry, Ricky O’Flynn, Thomas Clancy, Shane O’Donovan, Jonathan Leahy,Kieran Fitzpatrick.
Subs: Kevin Cormican, Alan O’Sullivan, Aidan Collins, Jack Cowhig, Mark Shorten, Darren Santry Sean O’Donovan, Paul Foley.
Drinagh Rangers: Robert Oldham, Daniel McCarthy, JJ Collins, Barry O’Driscoll (T), Don O’Driscoll, Robert O’Regan, Gavin Beamish, Tomás Connolly, Keith Jagoe, Paul Hickey, Barry O’Driscoll (captain).
Subs: JJ Hurley, Gearoid White, Jamie Walsh, Adrian O’Driscoll, Ian Jennings, Shane Connolly.
Referee: Patrick Hurley.