TWO Emmett Cotter goals helped Midleton to open their Keane Group 2 schedule with a hard-fought 2-1 win over Cobh Wanderers at Knockgriffin on Friday.
In the proverbial game of two halves, Cobh had the better of the first period; cancelling out an early opener from the home side to leave it 1-1 at the break, while Midleton lifted their game in the second 45, though Cobh will rue a couple of good goalscoring chances late on to claim a point.
Midleton jumped in front in the ninth minute when Alex Smith played a nice pass over the top for Cotter, who stayed onside, to run on to, and the striker lifted the ball over the advancing keeper Shane Hallahan to score.
It was the perfect start for John Ryan's men, who came close again a minute later when a Hallahan clearance was blocked down by Christian Daly. The Midleton man retrieved the loose ball near the endline and made space for a shot which was saved by Hallahan at the near post.
Cobh grew into the game after that with Ross McCarthy and Jason Abbott impressing in midfield and two minutes after conceding they went close to a leveller when McCarthy released Alan O'Flynn on the right and his teasing cross just missed out Nathan Manson-Browne and George Keating in the penalty area.
Five minutes later Manson-Brown had a shot on the turn in the box go wide after a McCarthy header from a cross fell to the striker.
Cobh were posing most of the questions at this point and O'Flynn was in with a chance on 18 minutes before Jamie Collins put in a timely interception for a corner.
From McCarthy's corner, Abbott's header was headed out for another corner and from that flag-kick Keating had a header hit the bar before the ball was put out for a goal kick.
Cobh were well on top now, solid in defence, while Keating and O'Flynn were proving good outlets on the flank.
Just before the half-hour mark their dominance paid off with a superb team goal. Left full-back Peter Nolan started the move in his own half, playing the ball down the line before it was worked into Abbott; he released O'Flynn on the right and his cross found Manson Browne who tucked the ball past Andy O'Donoghue in the Midleton goal.
Seven minutes later Cobh were almost in again when McCarthy did well to win and keep possession while under pressure and thread a measured pass through the middle for Manson-Browne to race on to.
The striker had a defender between himself and goal and elected to pass to his right and the move broke down.
Cobh may well feel they should have had more for their efforts in the first half; Midleton knew an improvement was needed in the second and they certainly delivered.
Three minutes in full-back Fintan Coady had a shot saved and spilled before the loose ball was put out for a corner.
Three minutes later Midleton went close again, Daly cut in from the left touchline and got a right-footed shot off from 25 yards which went inches wide of Hallahan's left post.
Midleton were now the team asking the questions of their opponents Cotter came close to doubling his tally with a header that went wide after a cross from the left.
Cobh weren't without their chances, though, and midway through the half Manson-Browne sent in a fine cross from the right which Keating got a touch to on the near post, but couldn't direct the ball on target.
Five minutes later Midleton took the lead again, with Cotter again providing the finish after Loic Nguefans pulled the ball back from the endline.
Midleton's lead was justified at the point, but Cobh found another gear in the final 10 minutes and began applying the pressure.
Abbott put Midleton under pressure with a couple of corners and a couple of free-kicks into the box with five minutes remaining another free from the midfielder, on the left, found Cal Sheehy in the six-yard box.
The sub striker rose to meet the delivery, got a head to it, but not enough contact to steer the ball home.
It was a good chance that went abegging and in injury-time they missed an even better opportunity. Sheehy sent in a fine cross, Manson-Browne missed a close in-header and the ball fell to Mikey Foley unmarked at the back post, but his tame effort fell invitingly into O'Donoghue's hands.
It was a chance that Cobh would have felt, in overall play, that they deserved.
Also on Friday evening, Kanturk started life as a Munster Senior League club with a 3-0 Group 6 win over Buttevant. Martin O'Riordan put the visitors ahead midway through the first half and two second-half goals from Lael Tambwe sealed the win for the newcomers.
It was 3-0 also in Youghal where visitors Carrigtwohill United won their Group 7 clash. Patrick Keys scored twice for the visitors and James Furlong was also on target.
In the other Group 7 game, a Keith McCarthy hat-trick helped Pearse Celtic to a 3-2 win at home to Passage.
In Group four, Leeside and Everton shared the points and four goals. Nathan Gumbo and Brendan Horgan scored for the Little Island outfit, while Alan Greaney and Kelvin Connolly were on target for Everton.