League Leaders edge close encounter!
Before the season had begun, very few people would have predicted the start Cabinteely have made to their first season at this level. It is a testament to the progress Eddie Gormley’s side has made that they can reflect on their first encounter with Shelbourne, favourites to win the First Division, and feel somewhat hard done by that they were on the wrong side of a one nil scoreline.
Cabinteely came into this game after a bright start to their campaign, winning two of their opening three games. Shelbourne likewise came into this game on good form, on the back of a win and a draw in the league, having not conceded a goal in either game.
Gormley made two changes to the team that started against Finn Harps, an injury to Jamie McGlynn causing a reshuffle at the back. Daniel Campbell came in at centre back for his debut, while Maloney moved out to left back. Lloyd Cairns came in at right back for his second start of the season, the 17 year old impressed against UCD in his other appearance. Victor Ekanem retained his place at the heart of defence to complete the new look back four.
Shelbourne started the game on the front foot and nearly went ahead through a Craig Walsh header, Evan Whelan did well to save on the line, despite protests from the Shelbourne players and fans that the ball had crossed the line, referee Michael O’Connor waved play on.
This early scare kicked Cabo’, and the home crowd, into life. Cabo were now playing with real belief and an intensity that was problematic for Shelbourne. Cabo were nearly rewarded when neat play at the edge of the box from Knight played Pender through, Greg Murray saved well with his feet, Shelbourne failed to clear the danger which resulted in another shot on goal, this time the ball being volleyed over the bar from outside the box.
The chances kept coming and soon O’Neill nearly got on the scoresheet for Cabo, Buckley drilled a dangerous ball across the corridor which just evaded the onrushing O’Neill at the back post.
Cabo were made to rue these missed chances when Shelbourne were awarded a penalty at the other end. Shels midfielder Walsh once again involved. He drew a foul and went down in the box, the ref deeming it worthy of a penalty, much to this dismay of the Cabo players and fans who felt that Walsh went down softly.
Philly Hughes stepped up to convert the penalty neatly into the bottom left corner for his 132nd goal in League of Ireland football. Whelan came close to repeating his heroics against UCD, diving into the same corner and almost getting a hand to the ball. The away fans, who travelled in great numbers, were now in full voice.
Cabo’ went in at the half one nil down but with plenty of reason to be hopeful having created some great chances and openings against the league leaders.
The second half started and the frantic pace of the game was soon resumed. O’Neill latched onto a long ball and took it down, he opted to try catch Murray off guard in the Shelbourne goal from 30 yards out rather than take the ball closer. His shot skewed wide and there were incquisitions in the Shelbourne defence as to how the chance had come about so easily.
The chance of the game for Cabo’ fell to Ger Pender late on, he was played through and found himself one on one with Murray. Murray did well to stay big and not go to ground and saved well with his feet as Pender tried finish to the far post.
Cabo can look back at this and rue their missed chances. While Shelbourne sit joint top of the table and still have not conceded a goal, it was not for the want of trying from the Cabinteely front line.
Cabinteely FC: Evan Whelan; Lloyd Cairns (Conor Foley, 86), Victor Ekanem, Daniel Campbell, Robert Maloney; Aaron Brilly (John McKeown, 73), Jordan Buckley, Evan Finnegan, Kevin Knight; Shane O’Neill, Ger Pender.
Subs not used: Shane Fagan, Eoin O’Sullivan, Gavin Fahy, Tyrone McNelis, Bobby Mazono.
Shelbourne: Greg Murray; Daire Doyle, Ryan Robinson, Sean Heaney, Evan Osam; Alan O’Sullivan, Colm Crowe, Craig Walsh, Jake Donnelly, Alan Kehoe (Conor Earley, 79); Philly Hughes (Mark Sandford, 61).
Subs not used: David Ryan, Darragh Gannon, Gareth Coughlan, Jordan Keegan, Manuel Rodriguez.
Referee: Michael O’Connor.
Cabinteely Man of the Match: Victor Ekanem. He was immense at the heart of the Cabinteely defence. He won every ball in the air and commanded the Cabinteely back line. He is quickly becoming a fan favourite and with performances like this it is clear to see why.
Next Match: We are at home again next Friday 27th March against Waterford United. Kick off is 19:45. Tickets are available here.