A brace from Joe Doyle and a late third from Dean Casey earned Cabinteely a convincing win over Cobh Ramblers at a rain soaked St Colman’s Park on Saturday night and, in turn, handed Waterford FC the 2017 First Division title.
The game began as a very tight, and hard fought contest with Cobh perhaps edging the first half hour in terms of possession, but when it came to chances it was the visitors who created the better ones.
Cobh’s Cian Leonard got on the end of Charlie Fleming’s cross after just six minutes but the ball looped harmlessly upwards and was cleared without further fuss. Ian Mylod then worked space for a shot which was always too high to trouble Michael Kelly in the visitor’s goal.
At the other end Joe Doyle might have done better than shoot straight at Paul Hunt when Cabinteely’s first chance arrived on nine minutes and midfielder Aaron Robinson’s powerful header was just inches over the Cobh bar two minutes later.
Dean Casey was then denied form close range by Hunt’s outstretched foot while Jack Watson did get the ball into the Cobh net just after the half hour only to be flagged off-side.
The breakthrough came after 33 minutes when a throw in from Cabinteely’s full back Karl Byrne found the run of Joe Doyle whose powerful shot could only be parried up and into the roof of the net by Hunt.
After that opening goal Cobh lost their cool somewhat leaving veteran midfielder Karl Caulfield to try and force some discipline back into the home play, and Kevin Taylor almost equalised two minutes from the break with an opportunistic 30 yarder that whistled inches wide with Cabo keeper Kelly in no man’s land.
Cabinteely continued to look the more dangerous side after the interval and just twelve minutes after the restart they added a second. Joe Doyle received a diagonal ball on the right and, taking advantage of Kevin Taylor’s slip he stepped on towards goal and drove low past Hunt and inside the near post.
Now needing three goals to deny Waterford the Division title, Cobh manager Stephen Henderson sent on David Hurley and Stephen Christopher to try and revitalise a midfield that had run out of ideas.
And the pair of substitutes almost pulled one back for Cobh on 70 minutes when Christopher’s looping cross from the right found Hurley at the far post but his header was deflected wide of the target for a corner that came to nothing.
The final nail in Cobh’s coffin was nudged into place five minutes from time when Casey was allowed the freedom of the park to ghost in at the back post and steer Conor Earley’s swinging cross past Hunt for Cabinteely’s third.
John Kavanagh came close to scoring in the final minute but his shot was well saved by Kelly, and then, in added time, Cian Kinston’s header forced Kelly into another save. But the night was emphatically Cabinteely’s and, by extension Waterford’s, with the Blues now assured of a place in next season’s Premier Division.
Cobh Ramblers: Paul Hunt; John Kavanagh, Cian Kingston, James McSweeney; Charlie Fleming (Stephen Christopher 68), Karl Caulfield (Scott McCarthy 81), Ben O’Riordan (David Hurley 56), Darren Murphy, Kevin Taylor; Cian Leonard, Ian Mylod.
Subs Not Used: Michael Sadys (gk), Chris McCarthy, Kyle McNamara, Gordon Walker.
Booked: Kavanagh (84), (Kingston (90).
Cabinteely: Michael Kelly; Karl Byrne, Conor Keeley, Kevin Knight, Eoin Stokes; Conor Earley, Jack Watson, Aaron Robinson; Joe Doyle (Michael Scott 90+1), Kieran Marty Waters (Evan Galvin 87), Dean Casey (Cory Galvin 87).
Subs Not Used: Jack Menton (gk), Daire Doyle, Sean Fitzpatrick, Anthony Dolan.
Booked: Stokes (16).
Referee: Andrew Mullally.
Man of the Match: Joe Doyle (Cabinteely FC)