FAI Intermediate Cup
By Jonny Stapleton
IT was more a battle than a game. An enthralling encounter that had everything bar a goal and as a result the champions of Leinster and Ulster will have to do it all again.
Crumlin United and Cockhill Celtic didn’t just meet in Armagh Road on Sunday they collided, but neither side could find the back of the net meaning LSL champs Crumlin will have to travel to Charlie O’Donnell Sports Grounds Sunday week.
Considering Martin Loughran’s men had the games two best chances United will be a bit disappointed, but former Derry City and PFA Player of the Year, Dub, Donal O’Brien’s charges had more territory and possession in a tight, tense and somewhat bruising encounter, meaning no one could argue a draw was a fair result.
The hosts, who beat the same side 3-1 in the same competition two years ago to end a two year unbeaten streak, started well against a side, whose last reverse came in the Knockalla Caravans Cup back in April, but only had an Alan McGreal free kick, long range Martin Cramer shot and speculative Lee Roach drive to boast about in the opening 10 minutes.
The visitors eventually found their feet and once they began to disrupt Crumlin’s passing game they started to have a more positive impact on proceedings. The block like Mark Moran won everything pumped his way and his physical approach meant Ross Craig and Ciaran Kenna had to forget about being on their toes and instead dig their heels in or risk being bowled over.
Just like their hosts, however, half chances were all that Cockhill were able to create. A Gerry Gill free from the corner of the 18 yard box narrowly missed Crumlin keeper David Meehan’s right hand post and Malachy McDermott long range effort was routinely saved.
Half time arrived without a goal or even a clear cut chance, but there was certainly nothing bore draw about this stalemate.
Cockhill had a chance to ensure it didn’t finish deadlocked just two minutes after the break when Johnny Havlin controlled a Gill corner and pulled it back to Malachy McDermott 10 yards out but the defender lifted the ball over the bar Croke Park style.
The visitors looked more likely at that stage, they were not completely dominant, but they were frustrating a Crumlin outfit, who usually have things their own way. Not to mention the game was fast descending into a dog fight and it seemed if the game was going to be won the scrappy and the not the sublime was going to settle proceedings and it seemed the Donegal side were more capable of producing such an effort.
However, it was Crumlin who had the best chances to secure a win that would ensure a place in the FAI Cup and the last 16 of the Intermediate knock out competition. Firstly some brilliant wing play saw the ball end up on the head of Lee Roach 10 yards out, but the striker, who is keeping Daniel McGuinness out of the team, headed over the bar.
James Lee, who scored two headers in a recent win over Leixlip United, managed to keep his headed shot under the crossbar, but sent it wide of the post minutes later. Under more pressure than Roach the midfielder failed to convert a Ciaran O’Reilly cross.
Neither side managed to create any chances of note after that and net minding proved relatively routine. Indeed in was clashes and not chances that dominated the final quarter. It wasn’t quite the big hits served up along with Turkey by American Football teams on Thanksgiving, but there was a physical element as the game drew to a close.
Nether side could muster or muscle a goal, however and they pair meet up north in just over a weeks time.
Crumlin United: David Meehan, Ciaran O’Reilly, Carl Redmond, Ross Carrig, Ciaran Kenna, Martin Cramer, Daniel Loughran, James Lee, Lee Roach, Ger Row, Alan McGreal. Subs: Daniel McGuiness, Barry Slattery.
Cockhill Celtic: Gavin Cullen, Kieran McLaughlin, Peter Doherty, Johnny Havlin, Oisin McColgan, Jimmy Bradley, Liam O’Donnell, Malachy McDermott, Gerry Gill, Mark Moran & Garbhan Friel, Subs: Aiden O’Donnell, Derek Doherty, William O’Connor, Gerard McLaughlin, Paul McKinney, Conor Keddy