Ringmahon Rangers 2 Avondale United 0
RINGMAHON RANGERS were crowned Donie Forde Cup champions on Wednesday night when they defeated local rivals Avondale United 2-0 at Turner’s Cross.
It was a terrific result for the club and it was extra special that Max Higgins, whose brother Zac is currently recovering from an accident, had the honour of being the mascot for the occasion. Their father Paul is the treasurer of Ringmahon and their uncle Alan featured at centre-back here.
Two first-half goals set Rangers on their way to victory and despite an Avondale revival in the second period, Aidan Foley’s men kept them at bay with some fine defending from Anthony O’Donnell, in particular, and Alan Higgins at the heart of their defence.
The game took a while to get going with both sides taking a cautious approach. Neither keeper was troubled early on until Ringmahon’s James Kirby saw action after 20 minutes.
Avondale forward Cathal O’Neill stole possession from Ringmahon defender Alan Higgins near the left touchline and, taking a couple of strides forward, he made space for the shot which lacked enough power to trouble Kirby who stooped easily to save.
The game sprung to life though, four minutes later when Patrick O’Brien played a crossfield pass from the left which Avondale defender Greg Kelly failed to deal with.
Roy Kenny, busy throughout to half, was on hand to pounce and raced forward, keeping his cool as drilled the ball low past keeper Sean Barron.
Ringmahon had their backs up now and began to take control the game. Anthony McAlevey and Kenny stood out in midfield while Dean Swords was a willing outlet up front for the Mahon side.
Just after the half-hour mark McAlevey had a long-range free that Barron dealt with easily, but three minutes later Ringmahon doubled their advantage.
Swords did well to play a nice ball through to middle, inviting McAlevey to run on to. Barron hesitated slightly, before leaving his line and the Ringmahon man bravely stretched to poke the ball home from inside the penalty area.
Avondale were up against it now, but Ringmahon had a scare with 10 minutes remaining in the half when Higgins headed the ball back towards his keeper, but it went past Kirby and wide before Avondale could capitalise.
Ringmahon finished the half strongly and they might have been further ahead at the break.
Kenny did well again on the right sending Jack Carins through on goal, but Kelly got back to make an excellent saving tackle just inside the penalty area as the Ringmahon man was about to pull the trigger.
Two minutes later Ringmahon went close again when O’Brien’s delivery from the left was met by Roy Long whose glancing header was blocked at the far post and the ball went out for a corner.
Avondale boss Ken Bruton, in a bid to shake things up, made three changes at the break – Mark Horgan, Mark O’Sullivan, and Ryan Hogan coming in for Declan Cahill, O’Neill and Kelly.
An Avondale resurgence was to be expected in the second half and, to their credit, they delivered on that front, if not on the goals front.
Danny O’Connell would be Ringmahon’s chief tormentor in the second period and 10 minutes into the half O’Donnell had to put in a terrific challenge on the Avondale man as he burst into the penalty area with intent.
Five minutes later, O’Connell was on the attack again, this time skipping past three Ringmahon defenders before pulling the ball back from the endline towards Karl Caulfield, but Long was on hand to make an important clearance.
Avondale were doing all the pressing now and good work by Mark O’Sullivan in the penalty area on the left saw him dig out a cross which Lougheed got a touch on, but Kirby managed to force it over the crossbar.
Ringmahon were forced to play deep at this point, Cairns a little isolated up front as their midfield were forced into defensive duties.
Man of the match McAlavey wasn’t found wanting on that front and, indeed a terrific turnover on the right led to his cross which just evaded the in-rushing Cairns and Swords.
Avondale continued to try and find a way back into the game and on 73 minutes David O’Leary headed narrowly over after a cross from the left.
Shortly afterwards Ryan Hogan went inches wide with a free kick from 20 yards which had Kirby beaten.
With eight minutes remaining, Avondale looked certain to grab a lifeline back into this game when O’Connell got on the end of a cushioned header inside the box, but he pushed his effort wide from close range.
With that miss went Avondale’s last chance of getting back into the game and Ringmahon closed out the game with some solid defending to claim bragging rights and the trophy.
AVONDALE UNITED: Sean Barron, Greg Kelly, David Kiely, Eoghan Lougheed, Declan Cahill, David O’Leary, Hughie O’Donovan, Cathal O’Neill, Danny O’Connell, Karl Caulfield
Subs: Mark Hogan for Cahill, Mark O’Sullivan for O’Neill, Ryan Hogan for Kelly (all half-time) Brian Murphy for Hogan (80 inj), Vinnie O’Brien for Brosnan (86).
RINGMAHON RANGERS: James Kirby, Philip Keane, Anthony O’Donnell, Paul Deasy, Alan Higgins, Anthony McAlavey, Roy Kenny, Roy Long, Jack Cairns, Deans Swords, Patrick O’Brien.
Subs: Chris Fox for Deasy (half-time inj), Mady Cisse for Swords (80), Derek O’Sullivan and Jason Dunphy, for McAlavey and O’Brien (inj time), John Delaney for Cairns (inj time).
Referee: Shane O’Flynn, assistants: C Braganza, T Kelleher.