LSL Senior Sunday
St Patricks CY-2
It might have been the first day of the season, but it felt like the last.
St Patrick’s CY versus Bluebell had a cup final air further emphasising the importance of points in what looks like it could be one of the most competitive LSL Senior Sunday top flight seasons to date- and that’s saying something considering last season only a single goal separated the top two.
This intense and exciting curtain raiser had goals, red cards, great individual battles and to further prove Senior Sunday is the Premier League of Irish amateur football it had an underdog win.
CY proved once again that any side can beat another in the Leinster Intermediate top flight as they battled their way to victory over one of four joint favourites to win the league.
The Ringsend side got their noses in front as early as five minutes and soon after found themselves with a two goal and a man advantage as Bluebell were reduced to 10.
However, it was anything but plain sailing from there on in as the title hopefuls reduced the arrears and pushed for an equaliser after the break albeit to no avail as the hosts got Alan Murphy’s reign off to an impressive winning start.
Bluebell just about shaded possession early on with the visitors looking to play through Keith Quinn in midfield, but the home side did have an impressive bite about them and looked a danger when they broke.
One of those breaks paid off as early as minute five. Daniel Kelly picked the ball up wide left cut inside and pinged cross field to Jason Doyle, Doyle broke to the byline and cut back toward the 18 yard line. Kelly in his first game since returning from Crumlin hadn’t sat back to admire his pass and met the pass brilliantly to whip past Andy McNulty in the away goal.
Bluebell didn’t panic and although Doyle and Kelly’s pace always kept them honest they did see more of the ball over the next few minutes. Gary Seery looked dangerous down the right and Shane Stritch was full of combative menace, yet Bell couldn’t find any real rhythm.
Stricth, Tony Keeler and Tony Griffiths did have effort but they were more toward than on goal as Bluebell failed to hit the target.
CY were then given a massive boost as they went two goals and a man up. When Andy Doolin first punted clear he cursed himself for not trying to retain possession, but giant front man Kevin Dunne ensured McNulty couldn’t collect and when the ball fell to Doyle in the area he was felled as he was about to pull the trigger.
The referee pointed to the spot before pulling out his red card to send Keeler to the showers.
Doolin had to wait for McNulty to receive attention before being able to place the ball on the spot, but made no mistake after the delay and fired in off the left hand post.
With a two goal deficit Bluebell elected against bringing on defender and switched to three at the back and it was at that stage that CY could have put to game to bed.
United were struggling in terms of adapting and with a bit more self belief and some more composure the home side could have taken advantage before Andy Noonan got a chance to reorganise properly at half time.
It wasn’t as if Bluebell were not battling they certainly were and there were flashes of tempers throughout the remainder of the half, but if Pats CY had a little less respect for their opponents they quite possibly could have went for the jugular.
Doyle did come close after another break away, but hit the side netting after Kelly, who a constant danger, had crossed to the back post.
Bluebell did manage to pull one back by the break and while there was surprise among the CY line as to how it was conceded their was no surprise that Stritch had found the net.
The hard working front man collected a first time cross from Karl Russell after he received his throw back to feet, took a touch that looked a bit heavy, but still managed to beat everyone in the crowded area to the ball and fired home brilliantly to leave the visitors within one at the turn.
Bluebell did regroup further during the 15 minute recess. Glen Walsh was introduced and ensured a better balance to the back three and provided a genuine challenge for Dunne come route one time.
The intensity levels increased as Bluebell just set about testing their hosts nerves. They had most of the ball and were rather direct upping the anti in the process.
At times CY looked like they knew what they had to loose and seemed somewhat nervy, but you have to say they defended well considering they didn’t ship a shot on target. Sean Coofey’s command of his area certainly helped in that regard.
CY were then reduced to 10 as Graham Hannigan was sent off for a second bookable offence and at that stage it looked like Bluebell could well get something out of the game.
However, as the half wore on and ‘Bell became that bit more desperate the homeside began to dangerous again. Kelly should have put the result beyond doubt when Healy played in toward Dunne, the striker produced a clever dummy leaving Cassidy with the ball 18 yards out, the former League of Ireland player rolled out to the tricky wide man, but he swept over.
The tricky winger then created two chances of his own and his honesty robbed himself of a penalty as the pattern of Bluebell having more of the ball but CY having the better chances continued. McNulty also had to be smart off his line to deny Dean Kelly during that period.
Bluebell pushed hard late on but a Dean Ebbe effort on the stretch which was saved at the near post was all the had to show by way of chances and St Patricks CY claimed a morale boosting opening day win.