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Kelly fires Dunmanway Town to Beamish Cup final glory

July 26th, 2021 2:01 PM

By Ger McCarthy

Tim O'Donovan, left, chairman of the West Cork League, and John Buckley, secretary, present the man-of-the-match trophy to Dunmanway Town's Rhys Coakley.

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Dunmanway Town 2

Clonakilty Soccer Club 1

DUNMANWAY Town’s Johnny Kelly made history by scoring the winner in the recent 2021 West Cork League Beamish Cup final at Turner’s Cross.

Kelly lifted the most prestigious WCL trophy one year after helping Dunmanway defeat Clonakilty at the same venue and two years since representing Togher Celtic in their cup final win over Drinagh Rangers.

This year the Dunmanway captain netted a late winner to cap off a terrific second-half comeback.

Clonakilty were the better side in the opening half and grabbed a 52nd-minute lead through Jonathan Leahy. Town were much improved after the interval with Aidan O’Donovan heading in a deserved equaliser. Dunmanway pressed hard for a winner and Johnny Kelly obliged with two minutes to go.

It was hard luck on a Clonakilty team that began the week by claiming the Gareth O’Driscoll Premier Division Cup. Yet last year’s runners-up couldn’t build on their second-half lead and, naturally, were crestfallen at losing a second Beamish Cup final in as many years.

‘We had a hard-fought win away to Drinagh, travelled to Bunratty and came from behind to win 2-1, were 1-0 down to Togher and won 4-2 so we knew what it was like to fall behind in the Beamish Cup!’ Dunmanway Town manager Andrew Healy told The Southern Star.

‘This team just never gives up. For Johnny Kelly, as captain, to get the winner and secure back-to-back Beamish Cups is absolutely fantastic. It has been such an unusual year so to win two Beamish Cups in a row is very special for Dunmanway Town.’

The Dunmanway Town team celebrates after defeating Clonakilty in the Beamish Cup final at Turner's Cross.

 

A repeat of the 2020 Beamish Cup decider began at a cracking pace despite the sweltering conditions. Dunmanway produced their first chance by working the ball into the penalty area for Alan Crowley to force Eoin Ryan into an early stop. Clonakilty had penalty appeals waved off when Alan Ward was knocked over in the box.

The chances kept coming as Alan Ward and Gearoid Calnan combined to release Johnathan Leahy inside the Dunmanway penalty area only for Town’s defence to avert the danger. The cup holders had to play second fiddle to Clonakilty for a time as John Leahy’s side passed the ball confidently through the channels and probed for an opening.

Cathal Daly, Rhys Coakley and Johnny Kelly helped settle Dunmanway nerves but the 2020 Beamish Cup winners struggled to find a way past Iain O’Driscoll and Reuben Henry in the heart of Clon’s back four.

Another chance fell to Clonakilty after 23 minutes. Jonathan Leahy’s corner curled into a crowded penalty box where Gearoid Calnan headed inches over and on to the roof of the net.

A scrappy ending to an otherwise engaging opening half saw Jonathan Leahy turn and volley narrowly wide from 20 yards. That effort kick-started a frenetic period in which Town’s Cathal Daly danced around two defenders and dragged his shot wide. Right at the death, Dunmanway were glad to see a Leahy thunderbolt rebound off the crossbar and away to safety at the conclusion of an entertaining 45 minutes.

Relieved at surviving that scare, Dunmanway pressed higher up the pitch at the beginning of the second period. Ray Jennings evaded a couple of challenges and fired over before Clon’s Paul Daly and Conor McKahey began to make headway on the left flank.

The Beamish Cup final’s opening goal arrived after 52 minutes. Alan Ward delivered an inch-perfect pass into Jonathan Leahy’s path. The in-rushing Clonakilty striker managed to evade two defenders and walloped an unstoppable shot into the net.

Rhys Coakley led the Dunmanway comeback as the Beamish Cup holders pressed for an equaliser, but Clon’s defence stood firm with Iain O’Driscoll, Reuben Henry and Paul Daly producing a string of important clearances.

Dunmanway Town's Cathal Daly is challenged by Clonakilty's Reuben Henry during the Beamish Cup final at Turner's Cross.

 

Town restarted the final 20 minutes in whirlwind fashion as Cullen Barry brought the best out of Eoin Ryan and Dunmanway failed to capitalise on the rebound, earning a corner when a goal was on. An unmarked Cullen Barry headed over with 15 minutes to go but Town were rewarded for their efforts with an equaliser shortly after. Stephen O’Donovan’s free-kick was launched towards the Clonakilty penalty area where Aidan O’Donovan rose highest to head home.

In control, Dunmanway peppered their opponent’s penalty area during the closing stages but appeared unable to find a winner. Dominating possession, Town kept the pressure on an overworked Clonakilty defence and got their reward.

Enter Johnny Kelly who collected a long pass, held off a defender and found the bottom corner from the edge of the box with two minutes to go.

It was a superb finish and, despite a late Jonathan Leahy free-kick that flew over the crossbar, Dunmanway Town’s second half comeback delivered a second Beamish Cup triumph in a row.

Clonakilty Soccer Club: Eoin Ryan (co-captain), Paul Daly, Iain O’Driscoll, Reuben Henry, James Horan, Gearoid Calnan, Chris Collins, Alan Murphy, Conor McKahey, Johnathan Leahy, Alan Ward. Subs: Aidan Pendlebury, Cian O’Donovan, Danny Lane, John Hayes, Jack Archbold, Fiachra O’Connell.

Dunmanway Town: Stephen Daly, Cian Collins, Stephen O’Donovan, Aidan O’Donovan, Ray Jennings, Cullen Barry, Rhys Coakley, Johnny Kelly (captain), Barry O’Donovan, Alan Crowley, Cathal Daly. Subs: Aaron O’Donovan, Barry O’Sullivan, Cian Kelleher, Darragh Collins, Douglas Marron, Mike Kelly, Mark Buckley.

Referee: Richie Collins.

 

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