LSL Major Sunday
Skerries Town FC – 4
Hyde Park FC – 2
Fingal derbies don’t get much bigger than Skerries versus Balbriggan, and it was The Goats who came out on top this time round with an exciting victory over Balbriggan outfit Hyde Park.
The match, played in drizzly conditions at Park Lane, began at a high tempo and it was the home side who drew first blood after only five minutes when a long throw-in from Skerries captain Keith O’Callaghan was cleverly flicked into the net by Sean Lynch.
The early goal did not see the Hyde Park heads drop and the Balbriggan side thought they had an equaliser almost immediately from the restart. A free kick sent into the box was met by the head of Stephen Caraher, but the effort was chalked off for offside.
Skerries almost had a freak second just minutes after when a Richie Glynn free kick from the half-way line bounced awkwardly in front of ‘keeper William Crosby and was fumbled goalwards, however the stopper was able to scramble backwards and claim the lose ball before it trickled in.
Skerries began to take control as the half progressed and midfield engine Darren Lynch had an expertly executed volley blocked. From the resultant corner, Langan saw his deep curling delivery almost creep in at the far post only for it to be clawed out by Crosby. Lynch followed in on the loose ball but could not fire home with the Hyde Park defence putting their bodies on the line and getting the ball clear.
The Hoops continued to create chances with Sean Lynch drilling a powerful shot straight at Crosby that was well-held. Tricky winger Ross Hopkins then met a half-cleared corner on the volley only to see his well-placed shot blocked on the line by the man on the post.
On the half hour mark a clever Lynch lay-off dropped to Glynn who tried to place a shot in the top corner only for it to float narrowly wide, and in the following attack Langan has a shot from an acute angle well-saved by the Hyde Park ‘keeper.
Ryan McMahon then had an opportunity to draw the Balbriggan side level when he charged down a Skerries clearance and raced through on goal, only for Colm McGearty to save the striker’s low effort. Caraher got on the end of the following corner, but his volley was well blocked by a green wall of Skerries defenders.
Shocked into action after the scare, Skerries began to press and attack with more vigour, and Irish ameateur international Rory O’Connor has a glorious opportunity when he collected a misplaced back-pass in the Hyde Park box. The former Mochta’s and Tolka striker delayed his shot, seemingly waiting for the keeper to go to ground, but Crosby stood firm and took the ball off O’Connor’s toe.
Skerries though wouldn’t have to wait long to double their lead, and made it two five minutes before the break when Shane Langan found himself in space out on the right and raced through one-on-one. Crosby got a strong hand on the classy winger’s shot but the ball bounced slowly into the goal despite the desperate attempts of the retreating Hyde defence.
The second half began much like the first, only it was Hyde Park who had the upper hand. Almost straight from the restart McMahon drew a top-class save from McGearty with a low volley that was headed right for the corner only for the Skerries stopper to intervene.
Jonathan Marry was beginning to stamp his authority in the middle of the park for the Balbriggan side and his midfield partner Danny Baxter saw his dangerous curling free-kick from deep smartly palmed away by McGearty.
Around the hour mark Skerries began to reassert themselves and substitute striker raced through on goal after bamboozling two Hyde Park defenders (see photo), but the former underage international’s low shot was saved by the feet of Crosby.
O’Connor had another opportunity to get on the scoresheet minutes later after being released by a defence-splitting disguised pass from Sean Lynch, however Crosby again came to Hyde Park’s rescue, saving the striker’s side-footed effort. From the corner O’Connor rose highest but his powerful header flashed wide.
Hyde Park kept battling throughout, and the introduction of the giant David Healy up front caused Skerries some problems. ‘Dotty’ had a low shot saved by McGearty before releasing substitute strike-partner Jack Healy with a smart flick, only for Paul O’Carroll to come out of nowhere with a last-ditch saving tackle.
The final ten minutes saw the stretched match explode with four goals and non-stop end-to-end action.
First Sean Lynch spun Marry in the Hyde Park box and was subsequently hauled down by the Balbriggan enforcer. The big striker dusted himself off to take the spot-kick and guided the ball high and left into the net, despite a touch from the diving Crosby.
Just a minute later however Marry got amongst the goals himself, getting on the end of a deep Baxter free-kick to stab the ball home from close range.
3-1 down, Hyde Park began to throw caution to the wind and attacked in numbers, leaving themselves open at the back. A quick Skerries counter took advantage of this and Lynch lofted a dangerous through-ball into no-man’s land and Ross Hopkins managed to get to the bouncing ball before Crosby and nudge a shot home.
Both teams would go close in the closing stages with Crosby denying Darren Lynch twice and Walsh fizzing a diving header wide for Skerries, while an inviting dinked cross from Ger Sweetman almost crept in for the Balbriggan side.
The best however was saved till last with Hyde Park defender Gary Baxter scoring a 30 yard wonder-goal out of nowhere that cannoned off the underside of the bar and had McGearty rooted to the spot. It was a goal worthy of winning any game, but was not enough for Hyde Park who slumped to a third consecutive league defeat.
The win sees promotion-chasers Skerries solidify their fifth-placed position from where they will look to chase down the division’s front-runners – all of whom they hold games in hand over.
Skerries Town FC: Colm McGearty, Niall Bolger, Keith O’Callaghan, Paul O’Carroll, Alex Doyle, Darren Lynch, Richie Glynn, Shane Langan, Ross Hopkins, Rory O’Connor, Sean Lynch.
Hyde Park FC: William Crosby, Robert Halligan, Stephen Caraher, Ryan Richardson, Gary Bazter, Danny Baxter, Jonathan Marry, Darren Sweetman, Ger Sweetman, Ryan McMahon, David Geary.