Togher triumph ends 22-year drought for cup

April 21st, 2019 4:00 PM

By Ger McCarthy

Togher Celtic's Donnacha Collins celebrates after scoring the only goal of the game in the West Cork League Beamish Cup final at Skibbereen. (Photo: Paddy Feen)

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Drinagh Rangers 0

Togher Celtic  1 

TOGHER Celtic ended a 22-year wait for West Cork League Beamish Cup glory following a dramatic victory over Drinagh Rangers in the Baltimore Road.

Donnacha Collins’ third-minute goal proved the difference between the sides as Drinagh Rangers failed to conjure up a leveller despite striking the crossbar on three occasions. 

This was a victory for defensive solidity and sheer bloody mindedness as Togher got their hands on a trophy that eluded their grasp since 1997.

Drinagh’s dreams of winning a third Beamish Cup in a row faltered because of their failure to hit the net. Magnanimous in defeat, Rangers were the first to congratulate their neighbours on an historic victory for Togher Celtic who will celebrate this famous win for some time to come.

‘The last 20 minutes were unbelievable but it felt like an eternity after we had scored so early,’ Togher manager Johnny Collins admitted.

‘I have no more words. I’m panned out really! It is brilliant for the club and absolutely magnificent from the players today. Our goalkeeper (Ciarán Murray) kept us in the game. It is all down to the lads though, they put in some effort during the year. It is fitting to win the Beamish Cup for the first time in 22 years after our last game of the season.’

Togher got the Beamish Cup final off to a dramatic start by breaking the deadlock inside three minutes. A threat from set-pieces throughout the season, Celtic took advantage of their opponent’s inability to clear a corner and Donnacha Collins pounced to slam the ball home inside a crowded penalty area. 

Unsurprisingly, Rangers’ response was swift and a succession of free-kicks saw Keith Jagoe direct a header narrowly wide. But Togher’s ability to close Drinagh down in midfield meant the underdogs enjoyed a decent spell, forcing goalkeeper Rob Oldham into action at the conclusion of a frenetic first quarter of an hour. 

A strong wind blowing across the Baltimore Road surface favoured Celtic during the opening half but it was Drinagh who began to exert additional pressure and twice came within inches of equalising. Loud penalty appeals were waved away prior to Ciarán Murray denying Barry O’Driscoll (H) and Tomas Connolly rattling the crossbar with a header. 

For their part, Togher threatened sporadically with JJ Collins and Barry O’Driscoll (T) having to keep a tight rein on scoring threat Johnny Kelly. At the other end, Daniel Hickey’s set-piece deliveries kept Rangers on the front foot but an engaging decider’s score remained unchanged after 30 minutes. 

Adrian Hurley shot wide and Johnny Kelly was denied an effort on goal by an offside flag as Togher finished the first half on the attack. Barry O’Driscoll (H) fired an effort across Togher’s six-yard box in reply but a 1-0 score line was a fair reflection of an eventful first half. 

Amid deteriorating weather conditions, Drinagh enjoyed the benefit of a strengthening wind at the beginning of the second period and pressed higher up the pitch. The Canon Crowley Park club should have levelled matters on the hour mark but Ciarán Murray brilliantly denied Barry O’Driscoll (H) and Keith Jagoe hammered a close-range attempt off the crossbar from the resulting corner. 

Peppering their opponent’s goalmouth with a succession of crosses, Rangers looked the more likely to score next. It was during this difficult spell that Togher were indebted to Ian Crowley and Kevin Cotter for some no-nonsense defending that helped to keep their team’s lead intact. 

Relentless in their pursuit of a goal, Drinagh hit the crossbar for a third time when Tomás Connolly saw another header flick off the woodwork after 68 minutes. Celtic saw out a difficult spell however and Robbie Lucey’s introduction added some much-needed pace heading into the closing stages. As for Drinagh, the cup holders were left with little choice but to alter their formation to a more attacking shape and brought on Gavin Beamish as part of a three-man attack. 

The tension was unbearable for Togher Celtic’s supporters during the final minutes. But the underdogs held out thanks to Ciarán Murray’s bravery and claimed their first Beamish Cup trophy since 1997.

Drinagh Rangers: Robert Oldham, JJ Hurley, Daniel McCarthy, Barry O’Driscoll (T), JJ Collins, Gearoid White, Derek Crowley, Keith Jagoe, Darren Beamish, Barry O’Driscoll (H) (captain), Tomás Connolly. Subs: Paul Hickey, Adrian O’Driscoll, Robert O’Regan, Gavin Beamish, Shane Connolly, Jamie Walsh, Killian Murray, Robbie McQueen, Cillian Fitzpatrick, Mark Grace. 

Togher Celtic: Ciarán Murray, Ian Crowley (captain), Jamie Lucey, Kevin Cotter, Adrian Hurley, Johnny Kelly, Donnacha Collins, John Hurley, Darren Kelly, Sean Crowley, Niall Hurley. Subs: David Mawe, Mark Shanahan, David O’Brien, Bill Murphy, Robbie Lucey, Seamus Crowley, Shane Crowley, Aidan Hurley, Cian O’Neill, Dan McSweeney, Robbie Ahern, Mick O’Callaghan, Garreth Crowley, Fintan Collins. 

Referee: Patrick Hurley.

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