Cork City 0
(after extra time)
EOIN MURPHY and Dean Leahy were the Rockmount heroes as the Whitechurch claimed side a first Munster Senior Cup final victory at Turner’s Cross last night.
Having lost four previous finals, the most recent in 2016 when they lost to Cobh Ramblers, Rockmount denied Cork City a fourth straight title in extra time. First, impressive left-winger Murphy weaved his way into a shooting position in extra time and slotted his shot past Liam Bossin.
While City pressed in the second period of extra time, they were unsuccessful just as they had been in normal time. A shot by sub Seán Kennedy which was deflected out for a corner was the closest Neale Fenn’s side came.
Instead, the night belonged to Billy Cronin and his charges and the win was wrapped up at the death as sub Dean Leahy scored from inside his own half, with Bossin stranded.
City had a completely changed team from the side which began Sunday’s league defeat to Bohemians, with the two subs introduced – Dáire O’Connor and Cory Galvin – the creative hubs while Ronan Hurley captained the team. Goalkeeper Bossin made his first appearance since suffering a concussion in City’s only win so far this season, against Finn Harps in February. Rockmount had one change from their semi-final win over Carrigaline, with Daniel Duggan replacing Joe Meaney.
Rockmount, with veteran Ken Hoey operating as a sweeper, set up in a 5-4-1 designed to make themselves difficult to break down and their defending was disciplined throughout the first half. City struggled to break them down and too often were forced to play in front of them, tough there were occasional moments of individual inspiration that almost created opportunities.
Early on, lively midfielder Eddie McCarthy was allowed to carry the ball a long way but his low shot was wide, while when Dáire O’Connor looked to find Ricardo Dinanga in the area Hoey got in a strong block.
Rockmount centre-forward Kevin O’Connell was left isolated for long periods, though Murphy almost conjured something in the 14th minute as he came in from the left but his low shot was straightforward for Bossin to save.
Too often, City were reduced to having to try speculative deliveries from deep, with centre-back Jake O’Brien unable to find Issa Kargbo – brother of Uniss, who made his league debut on Sunday – with one such attempt while Hurley and Ricardo Dinanga had shots blocked by Hoey and Cian O’Driscoll respectively.
Seven minutes before half-time, a good Dinanga cross looked to set up Kargbo, who couldn’t get enough on the ball with Murphy blocking. As City kept the ball alive, McCarthy’s delivery was perfect for Cian Bargary but he couldn’t find the target.
With Danny Aherne showing up well in midfield, Rockmount’s workrate remained strong and three minutes before half-time they were almost rewarded. Murphy’s cross from the left was inviting and afforded Niall Hanley a free header but he couldn’t direct it either side of Bossin, who saved easily.
On the resumption, the game followed a similar pattern and the second half was less than a minute old when McCarthy had a daisy-cutter saved by Brendan O’Connell in the Rockmount goal. By and large, chances were rare, though, and with Rockmount continuing to soak up the pressure, City’s defenders were having to bring the ball forward. Centre-back Rob Slevin – named as the FAI’s university player of the year earlier in the day – shot over after one of these instances.
With 20 minutes left, Kevin O’Connell had a good Rockmount opportunity but Bossin saved well and kept out Jason Sexton’s follow-up, too. After City’s Bargary and sub Seán Kennedy had efforts repelled by Brendan O’Connell, Mount had a great chance with seven minutes left as Eoin Murphy was almost through but sub Charlie Fleming denied him with a great challenge.
Otherwise, City looked to be finishing normal time stronger, but it was Rockmount’s Murphy who had the decisive say.
CORK CITY: Bossin; I Kargbo, O’Brien, Slevin (Fleming 60), Hurley; Desmond, Galvin (McGrath 60), McCarthy (Holland 60); O’Connor (Kennedy 73), Dinanga, Bargary.
ROCKMOUNT: B O’Connell; Carson, O’Driscoll, Hoey, Sexton, J O’Connell (Leahy 90); Hanley, Aherne, Duggan (Meaney 77), Murphy (Murray 106); K O’Connell.
Referee: K O’Sullivan.