Crookstown battle back to clinch Division 1 Cup
THEY left it late but Crookstown deservedly took home the West Cork League McCarthy Sports Division 1 Cup trophy at the expense of Baltimore at a blustery Lyre last Sunday week.
Down 1-0 to a Kieran Lynch opener, Crookstown used all their experience to drag themselves back into contention before netting an equaliser early in the second period. The prospect of extra-time loomed large until Michael Kelleher forced the ball home following a frantic goalmouth scramble five minutes from the end to win the trophy for a delighted Crookstown manager Tim Irwin.
‘It is hugely important that Crookstown won this trophy as we are trying and bring in younger players all the time but more importantly just to keep the club going,’ Irwin commented.
‘I just hope this cup success helps attract more players to the club and that’s what it is all about really.’
Strangely, Baltimore decided to kick off with only ten outfield players as they awaited the arrival of Stephen Leonard. Despite their numerical disadvantage, the Crabs got off to the best possible start by breaking the deadlock after five minutes.
Dan MacEoin lined up a free-kick 15 yards outside the Crookstown penalty box and his effort brought the best out of Dean Knight. The Crookstown goalkeeper’s parry was seized upon by Kieran Lynch however and the Baltimore striker fired home from close range.
James Kelleher and Darren Shine pressed forward in search of an equaliser but Crookstown’s cause wasn’t helped by the loss of midfielder Colm Crowley to injury shortly after falling behind.
Utilising Kieran Lynch and Paddy Minihane’s combined abilities, the Crabs enjoyed a productive spell which included another Dan MacEoin free-kick that struck the side-netting.
Stephen Leonard’s introduction had an immediate impact with James Kelleher and Charles Kenneally having to deflect away consecutive goal-bound attempts by the Baltimore striker. Despite diligent approach work, Crookstown’s struggles continued and they were fortunate not to fall further behind when Brian Leonard’s cross-come-shot flicked off the crossbar nine minutes before the interval.
Crookstown were much improved in the second period, Andrew Kenneally forcing Christy Hodnett into a save and James Kelleher fizzing a cross into the six-yard box that required a hasty clearance three minutes after the restart.
The Crabs swift-footed attack remained a constant threat throughout the second half and Noel Collins appeared to have made it 2-0 following a breakaway only to have his effort ruled out for a handball infringement.
Undeterred, Crookstown’s attacks increased and they drew level with a superbly crafted equaliser after 54 minutes. James Kelleher drifted infield and released John O’Mullane. The Crookstown striker still had plenty to do but struck a well-placed shot beyond Christy Hodnett to bring parity to the score. Crookstown looked more likely to score and twice came within inches of making it 2-1 when Michael Kelleher’s shot was deflected away for a corner and Donal Corkery headed the resulting set-piece inches over.
Baltimore had chances too, Kieran Lynch forcing Dean Knight into a full-length stop but the score remained 1-1 with ten minutes to go. Christy Hodnett produced a superb one-handed save to prevent a James Kelleher free-kick from hitting the net but Baltimore’s defence failed to heed that warning and were punished shortly after.
An in-swinging Donal Corkery corner resulted in a goalmouth scramble but Michael Kelleher somehow forced the ball over the line to edge Crookstown ahead for the first time with five minutes remaining.
Baltimore had one final chance to take the tie to extra-time but Kieran Lynch’s free-kick struck the butt of an upright and was hacked to safety.
Baltimore: Christy Hodnett, Brian Leonard, Aidan Murphy, Dave Ryan, Sean B O’Donovan (captain), Paddy Minihane, Conor Harrington, Noel Collins, Stephen Leonard, Dan MacEoin and Kieran Lynch.
Subs: Diarmuid Collins, Brian Minihane, Shane O’Donovan, Gary O’Donovan, Kieran O’Driscoll.
Crookstown: Dean Knight, Michael Kelleher, Liam Wall, Charles Kenneally (captain), Michael Deasy, James Kelleher, Colm Crowley, Andrew Kenneally, Michael Quinlavin, John O’Mullane, Darren Shine.
Subs: Tim Irwin, Donal Corkery, Diarmuid Scannell.
Referee: Tim McDermott.