Lyre Rovers 1
GER McCARTHY REPORTS
SHANE O’Donovan’s converted penalty ensured Lyre Rovers maintained their lead atop the West Cork League PremierHiSpecCars.com Premier Division at the expense of Ballydehob.
Rovers needed O’Donovan’s solitary goal to see off a dogged Ballydehob and keep their Premier Division title-hopes alive following an evenly-fought match-up in Lyre.
Gearoid Barry and Thomas Clancy’s work-rate ensured the home team enjoyed the majority of possession during the opening quarter yet it was Ballydehob who looked the more threatening and created the better chances. Donal O’Sullivan and Tim Regan each tested Aidan Collins prior to Mark Cronin springing Lyre’s offside trap and shooting inches wide.
The league leaders’ inability to properly test visiting goalkeeper Joel Davis saw Ballydehob grow in confidence with Kalum Geary, Sacha Walden and Donal O’Sullivan regularly stretching their opposing back four.
Lyre’s Johnny Leahy and Shane O’Donovan proved willing runners up front but made little headway against Ballydehob’s excellent central defensive pairing of Steven Duggan and Michael Helen.
Chances were hard to come by until the closing minutes of the opening period when Thomas Clancy sent a header wide before Mark Cronin and Sacha Walden forced Aidan Collins into two saves in quick succession at the opposite end. Lyre also had a penalty appeal waved away at the conclusion of an engaging yet scoreless first half.
The visitors created a tight game’s best opening when Mark Cronin burst through immediately after the restart. Aidan Collins used his feet to deny the striker a certain goal but Ballydehob would rue that and their other missed opportunities when Lyre finally broke the deadlock after 53 minutes.
Shane O’Donovan was brought down in the 18-yard box and dispatched the resulting penalty beyond Joel Davis to edge Rovers 1-0 ahead. O’Donovan turned provider two minutes later, setting up Thomas Clancy to scorch an effort inches over the crossbar as Rovers looked to capitalise on their lead. Ballydehob saw out a difficult spell but struggled to find a way past a Lyre Rovers rearguard well protected by Gearoid Barry and Johnny Leahy. A Mark Cronin long-range attempt brought the best out of Aidan Collins yet apart from that effort, Lyre remained comfortable leaders with ten minutes to go.
Ballydehob pressed high up the pitch in search of a late equaliser, forcing a succession of corners and free-kicks that Rovers did well to clear. A hectic finale saw play become stretched and tempers frayed before Ballydehob were presented with one final opportunity. A free-kick on the edge of Rovers’ penalty area saw Mark Cronin’s deflected shot clip an upright and Lyre Rovers saw out the remaining minutes to strengthen their position at the summit of the Premier Division.
Lyre Rovers: Aidan Collins, Cian O’Donovan, Jack Cowhig, Michael Keohane, John Clancy, Gearoid Barry, Thomas Clancy, Brian Walsh, Mark Shorten, Johnny Leahy, Shane O’Donovan.
Subs: Kieran Fitzpatrick, Alan O’Sullivan, Ricky O’Flynn, Damien Bennett, Ethan Draper.
Ballydehob: Joel Davis, Damien Roycroft, Steven Duggan, Donal O’Sullivan, Sacha Walden, Tim Regan, Mark Cronin, Kalum Geary, Ryan O’Neill, Michael Helen, Aidan Coughlan.
Subs: Brian Regan, Denis Cotter, Barry O’Brien, Tristan O’Sullivan.
Referee: Paul McDermott.