Early Finn Harps goal halts Cabo’ run!

Since the announcement that Cabinteely had been accepted into the League of Ireland, a mere six weeks ago, it has been all go off the pitch. Club members, directors and volunteers all working around the clock to get everthing in place. While a lot of work was being done behind the scenes in the previous weeks, it was now the players turn. With their third game in a week, it was now very much a case of it being all go for the players as well.

After impressive wins at home to Wexford Youths and away to UCD in the league and EA Sports Cup respectively, Cabinteely made the long journey to Ballybofey to play Finn Harps. The journey to Donegal very much at the other end of the spectrum in terms of distance travelled compared to their previous away game of UCD, a short 5 minute drive from the club.

Finn Park welcomed Finn Harps for the first time of the 2015 season, and a large attendance made this a difficult atmosphere for newboys Cabinteely to come to. Cabo’ manager Eddie Gormley named the same starting 11 as the game against Wexford Youths, welcoming O’Neill, Pender and Buckley back into the starting team after a rest midweek against UCD. The Harp’s fans were in full voice before the game, and it wasn’t long before they had reason to cheer. After four minutes a ball spun clear in the Cabinteely box, the bounce, or lack thereof, deceiving the Cabinteely defence. Ruairi Keating pounced and finished neatly under Whelan to take the early lead. Appeals of offside from the Cabinteely defence fell on deaf ears. A tough away day was now looking a lot tougher.

Many new, youthful teams would have collapsed given the circumstances but Cabo’ showed great spirit and resolve to stay in the game. Cabinteely quickly began to settle and enjoyed spells of possession in the first half which was just what was needed given the frantic start to the match. This possession was rewarded on the 14th minute when Cabo had what would be their best chance of the game. The Finn Harps keeper was in no-mans-land on a Cabinteely corner and the ball dropped at the edge of the box to Shane O’Neill who struck a sweet volley that beat the keeper but was cleared off the line. O’Neill coming close to his second in two games after his late winner against UCD.

While Cabo’ did concede last night, it was easy to see why they had earned two clean sheets in their first two games. Maloney and Ekanem once again put in stand out performances at the centre of defence to deal with the physical Tagbo, and Whelan showed his shot stopping abilities from point blank range proving that his first two performances were no fluke.

Cabo’ went in at the half 1 nil down and they could have no real complaints about the scoreline.

The second half started brightly for Cabinteely with Knight being played through down the left-hand side, he opted to unselfishly cross when perhaps he could have had a strike on goal. Early signs that Gormley’s team talk had worked had the Cabo’ travelling fans in high spirits of seeing their side get another result.

The Finn Harps second goal came in the 70th minute when an uncharacteristic error, from the otherwise excellent Whelan, gifted Finn Harps and Keating his second of the night. Whelan misjudged the flight of a cross, he stood back to let it go out of play as he appeared to think it was dropping over the bar, however it dropped at the back post and Keating found himself unmarked to tap it into the empty net. In truth, it was no less than Finn Harps deserved but Cabinteely can feel aggrieved that it came at a time when they had been playing well.

The introduction of Foley for McGlynn led to a tactical change as Cabo chased the game. Gormley opting to go 4-3-3 as he chased a goal, a very positive move when many others would perhaps have shut up shop and tryed keep the score down. Finn Harps did well to see out the rest of the game though, with Cabo’s only real chances coming from shots from range which did not trouble Gallagher in the Finn Harps goal.

Two wins from three games in their first week at this level is a very respectable return for Eddie Gormley’s side and they will now go into the game against Shelbourne looking forward to playing in front of the crowd at Stradbrook after two away games on the trot. Looking back on the week that has been, plaudits have been earned for the team on the pitch and the work that has gone on at Cabinteely off the pitch, a lot has been learned that will stand to the players and the club going forward.

Cabinteely Man of the Match: Robert Maloney, he was impressive throughout marshalling the Cabinteely defence, leading by example. He made a crucial block late on to prevent a third Finn Harps goal. The Cabinteely captain has impressed in each of the first three games so far, playing every minute of each match.

Finn Harps: C. Gallagher, D, McNulty, T. McGonagle, P. Malley, K. Cowan, W. Tagbo (K. McHugh 58′), G. Harkin, M. Funston (T. McNamee 78′), R. Foy, C. Coll, R. Keating (G. Friel 74′)

Cabinteely : E. Whelan, A. Brilly (T. McNelis 80′), V. Ekanem, R. Maloney, J. McGlynn (C. Foley 69′), K. Knight, J. Buckley, J. McKeown, E. Finnegan, S. O’Neill, G. Pender

Next Match: 20/03/2015 Cabinteely -v- Shelbourne at Stradbrook. Kickoff 19:45. Tickets available here