GER McCARTHY REPORTS
A BRACE of second-half goals were enough to earn Skibbereen a Beamish Cup first round victory over local rivals Baltimore.
Two West Cork League clubs that share the same Baltimore Road ground saw Division 1 side Skibbereen overcome Division 2 outfit Baltimore courtesy of Kevin O’Regan and Shane Crowley efforts.
There was little to choose between the teams throughout a hard-fought 90 minutes until Skibbereen’s late strikes sealed victory and a home tie in the second round against Aultagh Celtic.
Baltimore won a couple of corners during the early exchanges but it was JP Reen who had the first shot on target, forcing Christy Hodnett into a routine stop after five minutes.
Few clear-cut chances saw Skibbereen spread their full-backs and wingers to use the width of the pitch during a tight opening quarter.
The loss of experienced player Noel Collins to injury represented a blow to Skibb’s hopes after 14 minutes in a cup tie that finally began to open up heading towards the interval.
Dan MacEoin released Eamonn Collins clear on goal but the Baltimore player missed the target with only Lee Miles to beat. Skibbereen’s response was instant, Hugh O’Neill firing across the six-yard box and forcing Sean P O’Donovan into a hurried clearance. MacEoin represented Baltimore’s most potent attacking threat and walloped a long range free kick inches over the crossbar after 33 minutes. Lee Miles has to go full length to tip away another effort from the same player shortly after as the Crabs intensified their search for an opening goal.
Skibbereen had chances too and Baltimore net-minder Christy Hodnett was called into action either side of the break, a period in which both teams had penalty claims waved away by the referee.
An opening goal continued to prove elusive despite Skibb enjoying their best spell during the third quarter. One flowing move ended with JP Reen directing a first-time effort against the crossbar on 57 minutes but Baltimore’s defence remained steadfast and saw out a difficult period.
Both sides began to tire during the closing stages and the prospect of extra-time appeared likely until Skibbereen broke the deadlock courtesy of a wonderful strike.
Left-back Gavin O’Neill tried his luck from distance but missed the target prior to racing up the wing and passing inside to Kevin O’Regan. The Skibbereen midfielder instantly turned a defender and scorched a magnificent 20-yard effort into the bottom corner of the net.
Baltimore has less than 10 minutes to conjure up an equaliser and another Dan MacEoin free-kick saw Lee Miles use his feet to prevent the effort from crossing the line. MacEoin glanced a header wide as the Crabs grew desperate in their search for a leveller but it was a more clinical Skibbereen that scored the all-important next goal with three minutes left on the clock.
Shane Crowley had a terrific game at centre-back for Skibb and met an in-swinging corner with a powerful downward header to make it 2-0 and cement his club’s place in the second round of the Beamish Cup.
Skibbereen: Lee Miles, Jason O’Donovan, Rob Hegarty, Shane Crowley, Gavin O’Neill, Kevin O’Regan, JP Reen, Hugh O’Neill, Cian Coughlan, Noel Collins, Richie Fitzgerald.
Subs: Eoghan O’Donoghue, Denis O’Regan, Chubo O’Mahony, John Allen, Paul McCaugheny, John O’Donovan.
Baltimore: Christy Hodnett, Sean P O’Donovan, Brian Leonard, Brian Minihane, Aidan Murphy, Conor Harrington, Kieran O’Driscoll, Jamie O’Driscoll, Eamonn Collins, Kieran Lynch, Dan MacEoin.
Subs: Dave Ryan, Seanie O’Donovan, Diarmuid Collins, Jack Breen, Shane Evans.
Referee: Martin Coakley.