Su­per Sk­ibb

Sk­ib­bereen start with a win over Bantry United in U15 cup.

Irish Examiner - County - - Front page - Ger McCarthy

SK­IB­BEREEN got their 2017-18’ sea­son off to the best pos­si­ble start with vic­tory over lo­cal ri­vals Bun­ratty United in the Skech­ers SFAI U15 Na­tional Cup at the Bal­ti­more Road last Sat­ur­day.

Two teams hop­ing for pos­i­tive cam­paigns in this year’s Su­perValu West Cork School­boys U15 Premier League served up an en­ter­tain­ing open­ing round tie in Sk­ib­bereen.

Con­di­tions were ideal at kick-off, a per­fect play­ing sur­face and lit­tle or no wind per­mit­ting the hosts to dom­i­nate much of the open­ing quar­ter.

Bun­ratty shot wide in their first at­tack but it was Sk­ibb who came clos­est to break­ing the dead­lock with Isaac Harte twice miss­ing the tar­get from dis­tance be­fore the award of a free­kick af­ter 10 min­utes. James O’Neill’s de­liv­ery was met by a Dy­lan McCarthy header but the Sk­ib­bereen striker is could only look on as his at­tempt looped inches over the cross­bar.

That ef­fort pre­ceded a ter­rific pe­riod in which a flurry of chances was cre­ated at both ends of the ground.

Bun­ratty’s Adam John­son was de­nied a goal by a per­fectly timed James O’Neill chal­lenge prior to Jamie O’Brien tip­ping away a Dy­lan McCarthy shot at the op­po­site end. Op­por­tu­ni­ties kept com­ing with United’s O’Brien the busier of the two goal­keep­ers, re­pelling Fi­achra Collins and Isaac Harte in con­sec­u­tive at­tacks as Sk­ib­bereen set­tled into the tie.

In de­fen­sive mode for the ma­jor­ity of the open­ing half, Bun­ratty made three (rolling) sub­sti­tu­tions be­fore half time in an at­tempt to break Sk­ib­bereen’s dom­i­nance. Al­though dan­ger­ous on the counter-at­tack, the Schull club were made to work hard by Sk­ib­bereen’s neat ap­proach work. Isaac Harte, Dy­lan McCarthy and James O’Neill re­peat­edly stretched United’s four but a com­bi­na­tion of com­pe­tent de­fend­ing and goal­keeper Jamie O’Brien’s ex­cel­lence en­sured the sides changed ends tied 0-0.

Bun­ratty con­tin­ued to soak up plenty of pres­sure dur­ing the early stages of the sec­ond half but re­minded their op­po­nents of their at­tack­ing threat with a break­away that ended with Adam John­son nar­rowly miss­ing the tar­get af­ter 43 min­utes.

Micheál Sheehy had to be quick off his line to pre­vent John­son from find­ing the net once again two min­utes later as an en­ter­tain­ing game re­mained del­i­cately poised head­ing into the clos­ing quar­ter.

Sk­ib­bereen con­tin­ued to dom­i­nate but an in­abil­ity to breach Bun­ratty’s de­fence meant the home team were restricted to long-dis­tance at­tempts, in­clud­ing a Dy­lan McCarthy daisy­cut­ter that de­flected inches wide. McCarthy was Sk­ib­bereen’s most po­tent at­tack­ing threat and only a point- blank Jamie O’Brien stop pre­vented the striker from open­ing the scor­ing af­ter 50 min­utes.

The Bal­ti­more Road side in­creased the pres­sure dur­ing the clos­ing stages where two goal-line clear­ances and an­other O’Brien save pre­ceded Sk­ib­bereen fi­nally mak­ing the break­through. A hand­ball of­fence on the edge of the penalty area pre­sented Sk­ibb with a free-kick from which James O’Neill’s at­tempt was blocked. Dy­lan McCarthy re­acted quick­est and smashed the ball into the net from close range.

Not con­tent to sit on their one-goal ad­van­tage, only waste­ful fin­ish­ing and Jamie O’Brien’s hero­ics pre­vented Sk­ibb from mak­ing it 2-0 be­fore the home team were pun­ished in the fi­nal minute of the game. With noth­ing to lose, United poured for­ward and forced a cor­ner from which John Leahy pounced to smash the ball into the roof of the net to take the tie to ex­tra-time. The boost of scor­ing a late equaliser in­back jected Bun­ratty with some much­needed con­fi­dence, Dar­ragh O’Driscoll and Luke Wat­son’s com­bined ef­forts keep­ing the vis­i­tors on the front foot. Yet, Sk­ib­bereen saw out a dif­fi­cult spell and re­took the lead dur­ing the sec­ond pe­riod of ad­di­tional time when Jack O’Brien re­leased Jamie O’Driscoll and the striker made no mis­take.

It proved the win­ning goal of a thor­oughly en­ter­tain­ing Na­tional Cup game.

Dy­lan McCarthy and Jamie O’Driscoll who each found the net in Sk­ib­bereen’s 2-1 vic­tory over Bun­ratty United in the open­ing round of the 2017 Skech­ers SFAI U15 Na­tional Cup at the Bal­ti­more Road last Sat­ur­day.

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