The following is a match report covering the 2017 West Cork League Division 1 Cup final between Crookstown and Baltimore. Published in the Southern Star in March 2017. Enjoy – Ger McCarthy
CROOKSTOWN WIN THE CUP
Ger McCarthy reports
They left it late but Crookstown deservedly took home the West Cork League McCarthy Sports Division 1 Cup trophy at the expense of Baltimore at a blustery Lyre.
Down 1-0 to a Kieran Lynch opener, Crookstown used all their experience to drag themselves back into contention before netting an equaliser early in the second period. The prospect of extra-time loomed large until Michael Kelleher forced the ball home following a frantic goalmouth scramble 5 minutes from the end to win the trophy for a delighted Crookstown manager Tim Irwin.
‘It is hugely important that Crookstown won this trophy as we are trying and bring in younger players all the time but more importantly just to keep the club going,’ Irwin commented.
‘We finished our league programme very early this year and apart from the semi-final we hadn’t played a competitive game in over a month. I thought we started very slowly because of that and also the fact we were missing key players.’
‘I just hope this cup success helps attract more players to the club and that’s what it is all about really.’
Strangely, Baltimore decided to kick off with only ten outfield players as they awaited the arrival of Stephen Leonard. Despite their numerical disadvantage, the Crabs got off to the best possible start by breaking the deadlock after 5 minutes.
Dan McEoin lined up a free-kick 15 yards outside the Crookstown penalty box and his stinging effort brought the best out of Dean Knight. The Crookstown goalkeeper’s parry was seized upon by Kieran Lynch however and the Baltimore striker fired home from close range.
James Kelleher and Darren Shine pressed forward in search of an equaliser but Crookstown’s cause wasn’t helped by the loss of midfielder Colm Crowley to injury shortly after falling behind.
Buoyed by their early breakthrough, Baltimore defended in numbers and counter-attacked whenever an opportunity arose. Utilising Kieran Lynch and Paddy Minihane’s combined abilities, the Crabs enjoyed a productive spell which included another Dan MacEoin free-kick that struck the side-netting.
Their opponents threatened sporadically but an inability to find a way past a solid Baltimore back four (with Brian Leonard in imperious form) meant the score remained unchanged at the half hour mark.
Stephen Leonard’s introduction had an immediate impact with James Kelleher and Charles Kenneally having to deflect away consecutive goal-bound attempts by the Baltimore striker. Despite diligent approach work, Crookstown’s struggles continued and they were fortunate not to fall further behind when Brian Leonard’s cross-come-shot flicked off the crossbar 9 minutes before the interval.
Crookstown were much improved in the second period, Andrew Kenneally forcing Christy Hodnett into a save and James Kelleher fizzing a cross into the six-yard box that required a hasty clearance 3 minutes after the restart.
The Crabs swift-footed attack remained a constant threat throughout the second half and Noel Collins appeared to have made it 2-0 following a breakaway only to have his effort ruled out for a handball infringement.
Undeterred, Crookstown’s attacks increased and they drew level with a superbly crafted equaliser after 54 minutes. James Kelleher drifted infield and released John O’Mullane. The Crookstown striker still had plenty to do but struck a well-placed shot beyond Christy Hodnett to bring parity to the score.
O’Mullane fired another effort inches over as a frustrated Baltimore struggled to match the intensity of their first half display. The Crabs made little headway against an increasingly confident Crookstown defence and were restricted to long-range attempts in an effort to retake the lead.
Crookstown looked the more likely to score and twice came within inches of making it 2-1when Michael Kelleher’s shot was deflected away for a corner and Donal Corkery headed the resulting set-piece inches over.
Baltimore had chances too, Kieran Lynch forcing Dean Knight into a full-length stop but the score remained 1-1 with 10 minutes to go. Christy Hodnett produced a superb one-handed save to prevent a James Kelleher free-kick from hitting the net but Baltimore’s defence failed to heed that warning and were punished shortly after.
An in-swinging Donal Corkery corner resulted in a goalmouth scramble but Michael Kelleher somehow forced the ball over the line to edge Crookstown ahead for the first time with 5 minutes remaining.
Baltimore had one final chance to take the decider to extra-time but Kieran Lynch’s free-kick struck the butt of an upright and was hacked to safety. Crookstown comfortably maintained their lead following that late scare and ran out deserving 2-1 winners.
Donal Corkery of Crookstown
A first half substitute for the injured Colm Crowley, Donal Corkery made his presence felt with an all-action display in the centre of the pitch. Corkery’s performance helped Crookstown turn a 1-0 deficit into a 2-1 victory.
Baltimore: Christy Hodnett, Brian Leonard, Aidan Murphy, Dave Ryan, Sean B O’Donovan (captain), Paddy Minihane, Conor Harrington, Noel Collins, Stephen Leonard, Dan MacEoin and Kieran Lynch.
Substitutes: Diarmuid Collins, Brian Minihane, Shane O’Donovan, Gary O’Donovan and Kieran O’Driscoll.
Crookstown: Dean Knight, Michael Kelleher, Liam Wall, Charles Kenneally (captain), Michael Deasy, James Kelleher, Colm Crowley, Andrew Kenneally, Michael Quinlavin, John O’Mullane and Darren Shine.
Substitutes: Tim Irwin, Donal Corkery and Diarmuid Scannell.
Referee: Tim McDermott
Assistant Referees: Anthony McDermott and Patrick Hurley