St Vincent's DFC 1 – 2 Donnycarney
On a previous visit to Cabra in a league encounter last month, the Donnycarney youths impressed but could not convert their chunk of possession into goals as they went down to a 3-0 defeat. However on this occasion, the visitors not only progressed onto the 2nd round of the Unidare Cup at our expense, they humbled us with a fine display of football with their #10 scoring two fantastic long range goals which fittingly complimented their dominance of the game from start to finish.
The tedious cliché states “the midfield battle is where the game is won or lost” and this rang true last Saturday afternoon when unfortunately for us, we were surpassed by the work-rate and creativity of the four midfielders donning the maroon colours of the Donnycarney kit whose performances ultimately shaped the outcome of this game.
Continuing to be sidelined with an achilles injury, player/manager Stuart Foy would have been pleased to see us race into a one nil lead after a well worked set piece that deceived both their wall and their keeper saw Jason Maguire claim his 3rd goal of the season. However Donnycarney rallied back strongly, putting us on the back foot. Their defensive linchpin in #5, was pivotal to their game plan when in possession, always seemingly available to receive the ball when his midfield were put under pressure. He may not have appeared to be the most athletic of defenders, but much to his credit he had great awareness and a great range of passes. So often his instigating long cross field passes found his man, testing our defensive shape as we hurriedly shift from one side to the other. Given that that his performance during Donnycarney's previous visit had not escaped our radar, we should not have afforded him as much space and time on the ball that he had enjoyed.
Having found ourselves on the ropes, our attacks were deployed in the form of counter attacks with John Smith and Jason Maguire using their speed to launch crosses into their box. However after a quick throw, we got caught out in possession and the ball was quickly seized upon by their midfield who instantly fed their waiting striker. The hitman wandered unchallenged from just inside our half, before cutting in and letting fly from 25 yards. Goalkeeper Donal Lowry, who was deputising for the absent Roy Keating, could do nothing as he watched the ball scream into the top corner.
With smoke coming out of his ears, Stuart Foy's half time talk was brutally honest, trampling on egos as he demanded far much more than had been given. Outraged at the timidity of our performance, he sent the boys back onto the pitch with strict orders to roll up their sleeves and battle for every breaking ball that the visitors had won with ease in the 1st half. The second half saw a very encouraging start and we really should have found ourselves in front for the second time in the match after a terrific run by John Smith who sent in a glorious low cross into his brother, Justin, but with only the keeper to beat the little brother could only balloon his effort over the crossbar. It was a missed opportunity which we would desperately rue as Donnycarney responded by taking the game by the scruff of the neck once again as they looked threatening going forward. Although we repelled the constant waves of attack with defensive grit and good saves from Donal, we looked toothless going forward. It was irrelevant that their keeper was actually an outfield player drafted to play in goals, for we never really tested him.
With the defence being overworked, fatigue was quickly creeping in. It perhaps played a factor in Donnycarney's second goal when once again their #10 received the ball and the sharpshooter quickly turned unchallenged and from 25 yards out blasted the ball into the top corner past a hapless Donal Lowry. Clearly the striker had brought his shooting boots with him to Cabra but questions were asked why he was again afforded a shot without pressure.
With time running out, Joey Watson switched positions with Damien McMahon and the Waterford native came close to dragging St Vincent's back into the game, receiving the ball deep in his half before beating several players en-route to the opposing goal-frame. Having cut in from an acute angle, he found the keeper the only obstacle left to beat but his strike could only crash against the crossbar as the ball bounced away to the safety of their full back. This was as good as it got as an underwhelming St Vincent's struggled to make their superior position in the league table show and the referee blew the final whistle not long afterwards.
Although the taste of defeat was bitter, the general view was we conceded that our performance on the day was second best to Donnycarney's and so it is with humility and grace that we wish them the very best of luck in the next round of the Unidare cup.
First XI: Donal Lowry, Conor Dunne, Shane Edgeworth, Joey Watson, Ciarán Moloney, John Smyth (c), Kevin Dudley, Keenan Byrne, Jason Maguire, Damien McMahon and Justin Smith.
Subs: Stephen Gannon (C. Moloney), Liam Moloney (K. Byrne)
MOTM: Joey Watson.
"He worked very hard. A lot of the players should have matched his work-rate last Saturday" - Stuart Foy
Report by Ciarán Moloney