Clon Soccer Club 1 Togher Celtic 1 (Clon won 10-9 on penalties)
ALL through the game Clon manager John Leahy encouraged his team with shouts of 'unlucky' when they went close to goaling but in the end, they were the lucky ones as they snatched an extra time equaliser just as the last whistle was about to be blown.
Although they were by far the better team, they left it so very late before forcing a penalty shootout. Here 13 ‘spotters’ by each team were taken and again unlucky was lucky as Alan Ward converted the last one to bring the Gareth O’Driscoll Cup back to the town from where the former fondly remembered stalwart came.
Although Togher were out of this mid-week Premier Cup final for long periods, when Alan Brickley touched home a Donncha Collins delivery in the 107th minute they looked almost certain to record an unlikely win.
However Clon had time to muster up one more burst and in their final attack, a Jonathan Leahy header was fired home by Iain O’Driscoll to force the shootout. There was more drama to come as keepers saved, crossbars were tested, and a few efforts flew into space.
That was until Alan Ward, who had scored the first time around, stepped up to give Clon a hard-earned victory they richly deserved. Driving them on from a solid defence where Reuben Henry excelled the winners took the game to the losers from the start and with midfielders Conny McKahey and Paul Daly finding top gear early on Clon kept the Togher defence busy.
None more so than Kevin Cotter who was superb, aided and abetted by his youthful central defensive partner Jamie Lucey. Throw in their flankers Mark Shanahan and Seán Crowley to form a teak-tough Togher rearguard who were pushed to the limit at times.
Particularly when Iain O’Driscoll, who replaced the injured James Horan after 14 minutes, advanced to add more power to the Clon attack. Ciarán Murray, who later saved two ‘spotters’ in the penalty shootout, was the busier of the two keepers and he did his job well only to be beaten coming up to the interval.
However, an angled Jonathan Leahy shot flew across the goal only to bounce to safety off the upright and later Jamie Lucey cleared off his line another of the winners' better scoring opportunities in an opening half where Togher relied on the long ball to try and break Clon down.
Soon after the half-time break, Ciarán Murray tipped a free by Jonathan Leahy onto the crossbar and out for a fruitless corner as Clon resumed apace. Jamie Lucey had to make a second goal-line clearance before Eóin Ryan dealt capably with the threat of Donncha Collins as Togher got more involved at a time Conny McKahey went tumbling at the other end, but no penalty was awarded.
And so the play continued to and fro, with Togher doing much better helped by the introduction of a few substitutions A timely Fiachra O’Connell interception nipped a dangerous Togher attack in a scoreless first period of extra time and in a frenetic second period Alan Brickley’s goal, (set up by a quickly taken short free-kick from Jamie Lucey to Donncha Collins) seemed certain to enable Togher lift the cup until Iain O’Driscoll's Houdini act saved Clon at the death.
Then came more excitement, tension and drama that ended with Alan Ward emerging as the Clon hero.
On the last day of the West Cork League summer season, two important Cup finals were decided in Turner’s Cross.
In the curtain raiser a Seán Evans goal was enough to assist Bunratty lift the Championship Cup and in the Beamish Cup Dunmanway Town captain Johnny Kelly scored a late winner to enable the defending champions to retain their title.