In an inaugural season, everything is a ‘first’ and everything is labelled ‘historic’. Cabinteely F.C. welcoming Shamrock Rovers for the first time however can rightfully be labelled as an historic night for the club. These are the cup ties that a new club at this level dream of.
Shamrock Rovers boast both Stephen McPhail and Keith Fahey in their ranks. The former, an ex Irish International who led Cardiff City out for the FA Cup Final just seven years ago, the latter, a player with 58 Premier League appearances to his name. Can these players do it on a cold Tuesday night in Stoke? Yes. And they have. The only question that remained was could they do it on a Monday night in Stradbrook?
This second round EA Sports Cup tie got off to a slow start in front of a packed Stradbrook crowd. The Cabinteely defence were solid from the off allowing Shamrock Rovers no clear cut chances. This back four has consistently impressed regardless of opposition and it was no different last night as they quelled the Premier Division side in the first half.
Victor Ekanem picked up a yellow card just six minutes into the game when he put in a strong tackle on Luke Byrne. While the centre back was cautioned, it showed Shamrock Rovers that this would be no walk in the park and that they were in for a battle.
Cabo’s first chance came when Kevin Knight headed over from a corner on the 16 minute mark. Knight found himself unmarked at the set piece and can perhaps be disappointed that he didn’t test Barry Murphy in the Shamrock Rovers goal with his effort.
As the game progressed and Cabo continued to quell any Shamrock Rovers attack, you could see the team grow in confidence. A neutral would have been hard pressed to decipher which team was the newest member of the League of Ireland and which team was a front runner for the Premier Division title.
Eddie Gormley’s side got in at half time at nil all and would have been flying with confidence and belief after the first half. There was a growing sense in the terraces of Stradbrook that there was a possibility of an upset if Cabo could keep up the energy and endeavour that they had shown in the first 45 minutes.
Cabo came right out the blocks in the second half pressing high and causing problems for the Shamrock Rover’s defence. Ger Pender going close when he controlled the ball on his chest and shot on the swivel, had it not have been for a great block from Tim Clancy, Cabo could have had the lead.
Soon after Pender’s chance the break through came, albeit at the other end. A long ball by Rovers was latched onto by O’Connor who looped his header over the advancing Evan Whelan to put Rovers 1 nil up. Whelan may be disappointed that he was not out quicker to claim the loose ball.
This lead was quickly doubled, a Rover’s corner was only cleared to the edge of the box where an unmarked Miele raced onto it before thundering a strike past Whelan leaving him with no chance. This six minute salvo of two goals would have knocked many other teams and the floodgates would have opened but Cabo showed great spirit and stayed within touching distance throughout.
Gormley brought on Foley and Mazono to add to their attacking threat as they chased goals. It very nearly paid off when Foley found himself at the backpost, a nice touch creating space for the shot but it was dragged just wide.
Cabo continued to fight till the end and there were a few nervous moments for the Rovers defence but they held out to claim their 2 nil victory.
With Cabo starting the game as 16/1 outsiders for the win, many had written them off before the game had begun due to the strength of opposition that they were facing, Cabo put in a brilliant display and can look back on the game and think what could have been had it not been for a few errors that resulted in goals for Rovers. Cabinteely can take a lot from this display and if they can replicate this kind of performance every week, then the strong results to date look set to continue.
Cabinteely: Whelan, Campbell (Cairns 74), Ekanem, Maloney, McGlynn, O’Neill (Mazono 77), Finnegan, McKeown, Knight, Pender, Buckley (Foley 68)
Subs not used: Brilly, Broderick, Fahy, Hyland
Shamrock Rovers: Murphy, Clancy, Cornwall, Blanchard, Byrne, Brennan, McPhail, McCabe, Miele, McCaffrey (Waters 62), O’Connor (Kavanagh 78)
Sub not used: Hyland, O’Connor, Brennan, Kavanagh, Drennan
Man of the Match: Rob Maloney. The captain was fantastic throughout. When he is not leading by example in defence, he can be heard directing the team and encouraging throughout. He has been invaluable to Cabo so far and has rightfully become a fan favourite.
Next Match: Cabo are at home again this Friday night against UCD in a local Derby, the last time the sides met was in the first round of the EA Sports Cup when Cabo won 1 nil. Tickets for the match this Friday are now available online here.