Mizen head to Premier Division thanks to late John Cullinane winner

February 28th, 2020 2:00 PM

By Ger McCarthy

The Mizen AFC team that beat Baltimore to secure promotion to the WCL Premier Division for next season.

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JOHN Cullinane’s late winner fired Mizen AFC back into the West Cork League Premier Division at the Baltimore Road last Sunday morning.

Mizen travelled to Skibbereen for a crucial Championship clash with Baltimore knowing victory would secure promotion to the West Cork League’s top tier.

It proved a frustrating match for the visitors who wasted numerous chances before netting their all-important winner three minutes from the end.

In contrast to his teammates, 48-year-old John Cullinane was coolness personified as he slotted home the winning goal to earn victory for a delighted Mizen.

‘I was just thinking “get it on target” when the chance fell to me,’ Cullinane told The Southern Star.

‘We had missed (at least) four or five chances and I actually thought it wasn’t going to be our day. When Padraig Reidy put me through, I just kept the head down and got it on target. I was probably lucky in one sense but we will take it and look forward to the Premier Division.

‘I haven’t played many games this year, in fairness. Dan (O’Callaghan) asked me back at certain times during the season when the team was short. I am back playing football, so my fitness levels are back up a bit. I was delighted to give them a hand today and to get the goal was sweet.’

Unsurprisingly, Mizen pressed high up the pitch from the start and dominated possession. A series of corners and crosses failed to yield a goal however, allowing Baltimore time to settle.

Dan MacEoin fired narrowly wide from distance before Mizen enjoyed a period of sustained pressure thanks to John Cullinane, Ger O’Callaghan and Sean Sheehan’s intricate approach work. O’Callaghan brought the best out of Ronan Collins prior to Dan MacEoin heading off his goal-line and Michael O’Reilly watching another attempt brilliantly gathered by the Baltimore goalkeeper.

Ger O’Callaghan then cut in from the right wing only for Ronan Collins to produce another stop and Daniel O’Driscoll failed to convert the rebound.

Mizen’s wastefulness in front of goal continued and should have been punished when Baltimore’s Kieran Lynch burst into the penalty box after 32 minutes. Ronan Kennedy was quickly off his line and equal to Lynch’s left-footed shot, much to Mizen’s relief. An entertaining half concluded with chances at either end, the best falling to the visitors’ Darren O’Donovan who shot inches past an upright.

The pattern of the second period mimicked that of the first with Mizen AFC wasting multiple chances and Baltimore defending diligently to keep the score at 0-0.

Baltimore had a goal correctly ruled out before Mizen wasted a glorious opportunity in their next attack. Ronan Collins spilled a free-kick into David O’Leary’s path but the defender somehow pushed his shot wide of an empty net.

Ger O’Callaghan was the best player on display yet equally guilty of poor finishing. The Mizen midfielder raced clear only to miss the target with Ronan Collins to beat.

The visitors woes continued right up until the final whistle with four consecutive counter-attacks floundering in the Baltimore penalty box. The hosts threatened sporadically and could have snatched victory when Dan MacEoin’s close-range effort deflected wide for a corner.

It didn’t look like being Mizen’s day until John Cullinane gathered possession on the edge of the box and calmly slotted the ball into the net. It proved the winning goal in a tight encounter and enough to send Mizen AFC into next season’s Premier Division.

Baltimore: Ronan Collins, Alan Davis, Brian Leonard (captain), Brian Minihane, Sean P O’Donovan, Kieran Lynch, Jack McCarron, Michael McCarthy, Dan MacEoin, Jason Minihane, Shane Hourihane.

Subs: Denis McCarthy, Emmet Hourihane, Brendan Doherty, Donnacha Whooley.

Mizen AFC: Ronan Kennedy, Daniel O’Callaghan, David O’Leary, Daniel O’Driscoll, Darren O’Donovan, Patrick Scully (captain), Michael O’Reilly, John Cullinane, Ger O’Callaghan, Shane Sullivan, Sean Sheehan.

Subs: Peter Sheehan, Padraig Reidy, Patrick Sheehan, Jimmy O’Regan, Christopher Kennedy.

Referee: Richie Collins.

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