Sport

Drinagh’s latest win sends defending champs ten points clear

March 12th, 2023 2:00 PM

By Ger McCarthy

The Drinagh Rangers team that defeated Skibbereen 2-0 in the Premier Division at the Baltimore Road last Sunday.

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SKIBBEREEN 0

DRINAGH RANGERS 2

GER McCARTHY REPORTS

REIGNING champions Drinagh Rangers have moved closer to defending their PremierHiSpecCars.com Premier Division title.

Goals from Barry O’Driscoll (H) and Eoin Hurley separated Drinagh and Skibbereen in their Premier Division clash at Baltimore Road on Sunday.

Ten points clear of the chasing pack and with four of their five remaining league games on home soil, this season’s Premier Division title is Drinagh’s to lose.

‘We are in control of our own destiny but you cannot count out the teams around us or Dunmanway Town either as they have games in hand,’ Drinagh co-manager Don Hurley said.

‘If Dunmanway win all their games in hand then they are only three points off us. We knew it would be tough today as Skibbereen have improved dramatically as the season has gone on. Their results have shown that.

‘We have four home league games left and can only take things game by game. There’s a big Beamish Cup tie with Dunmanway Town this weekend. We will go from there and see where it takes us.’

Both clubs kicked off in need of a win but for different reasons. Skibb began the day fourth from bottom and eager to move clear of Lyre Rovers, Castletown Celtic and Kilgoban Celtic. As for Drinagh, Bunratty United’s 1-0 win away to Clonakilty Soccer Club moved the Schull side into joint-second place and within seven points of the leaders prior to kick-off.

The Skibbereen team that lost 2-0 to Drinagh Rangers in the Premier Division at the Baltimore Road last Sunday.

 

A lively first quarter failed to produce a goal despite spells of enterprising approach work from both sides. Drinagh’s Gearoid White, Eoin Hurley and Sean Calnan were involved in an eighth-minute move that ended with Calnan volleying wide. Hurley burst through only to twice be denied by Skibbereen goalkeeper Donal Hurley 60 seconds later.

The hosts threatened sporadically. Carl McPherson, Kevin O’Driscoll, Cian Coughlan and Aidan Pearce’s industry kept Rangers back four on their toes until Skibb’s best opportunity on the half hour. Cian Coughlan turned a defender inside the penalty area and watched his goal-bound effort blocked by an alert Donal O’Donovan.

Tom McQueen and Barry O’Driscoll (H) tested Skibbereen’s resolve but the visitor's most creative outlet was Robbie McQueen. The Drinagh winger’s accurate left-wing crosses forced a series of hurried clearances heading towards the break.

It finished scoreless after 45 minutes, a fair reflection of an even first half.

Skibbereen enjoyed their best spell with Kevin O’Driscoll and Aidan Pearce launching numerous attacks. The hosts were unable to convert their hard work into clear-cut chances however, and breathed a sigh of relief when Barry O’Driscoll (H) headed inches over the crossbar.

The opening goal was always going to prove crucial and arrived after 68 minutes. Substitute Harry Carey’s burst into the Skibbereen penalty area saw the winger dragged back by a defender. Barry O’Driscoll (H) made no mistake from the ensuing penalty.

Robbie McQueen released Carey via a sublime pass shortly after but Donal Hurley was off his line to prevent Skibb from falling further behind.

Admirably, Skibbereen emptied their bench and forced the visitors on the back foot in search of a late equaliser. Rangers saw out another difficult spell and utilised Eoin Hurley’s pace in an attempt to double their lead.

It was Hurley who made sure of the points with Drinagh’s second and decisive strike three minutes into injury-time. Irrespective of the final score, it is going to take something special to stop Rangers from claiming another Premier Division title.

Skibbereen: Donal Hurley, Barry Collins, Conor Hourihane, James Reen, Jason O’Donovan, Kevin O’Regan, Aidan Pearce, Kevin O’Driscoll, Carl McPherson (captain), John Paul Reen, Cian Coughlan. Subs: Cian O’Brien, Denis O’Regan, Eoin O’Donovan, Ronan McCarthy, Jamie Hourihane, John Allan.

Drinagh Rangers: Jack Payne-Murphy, Gearoid White (captain), JJ Collins, Donal O’Donovan, Barry O’Driscoll (T), Robbie McQueen, Keith Jagoe, Tom McQueen, Sean Calnan, Barry O’Driscoll (H), Eoin Hurley. Subs: Harry Carey, Rob Oldham, Owen Tobin, Daniel McCarthy.

Referee: Anthony McDermott.

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