Shelbourne 2 Cobh Ramblers 2
FOR the second game in succession, namesakes Danny and Nathan O’Connell found the net as Cobh Ramblers secured a magnificent 2-2 draw with runaway SSE Airtricity League First Division leaders Shelbourne at Tolka Park last night.
On target in last Sunday’s extra-time triumph over Liffey Wanderers in the FAI Cup, the recent recruits to St Colman’s Park cancelled out Shels' strikes from Michael O’Connor and Dayle Rooney to earn their side a share of the spoils.
In their first league game under interim boss Darren Murphy, Ramblers were facing a Shels side that were seeking to extend their unbeaten run in the second-tier to 17 games. They may have lost out to UCD in the Cup seven days earlier, but this only made them more determined to lay down a marker.
Cobh had looked lively during the opening exchanges, with Nathan O’Connell getting himself in a good position before dragging a shot past the right-hand post.
Space was the one thing the visitors couldn’t afford to give their much-fancied opponents, but that is precisely what Michael O’Connor had at his disposal for a 10th-minute opener. Picking up possession 25 yards from goal, the Dundalk native unleashed an unstoppable strike to the top right-hand corner of Sean Barron’s net.
This was an early setback for Ramblers and their travelling supporters breathed a sigh of relief when Rooney headed narrowly over the crossbar three minutes later. The Leesiders were struggling to make an attacking impact until, in the blink of an eye, they found themselves back on level terms.
Ian Turner was released down the right-flank just shy of the half-hour mark and after Shels netminder Brendan Clarke failed to gather his subsequent cross, Danny O’Connell was on hand to fire the rebound into an empty net.
This was O’Connell’s first league goal for the club and the confidence within the Ramblers ranks visibly grew as a result of this landmark scoring contribution. Yet Shels eventually settled after the shock concession of this equaliser and Rooney’s superb finish on the turn in stoppage-time gave the hosts a 2-1 interval cushion.
Ian Morris’ charges were expected to push forward on the resumption and former Cork City footballer Kevin O’Connor fired agonisingly off-target from a left-hand angle on 49 minutes. Georgie Poynton saw a later opportunity rebounding off the post as Shels continued to turn the screw.
However, Cobh remained defiant in the face of mounting pressure and forced their way back into the reckoning once again on 62 minutes. Danny O’Connell was a lively presence up front throughout the contest and his mazy run placed the Shels defence on the back-foot.
The mid-season arrival from Avondale United was ultimately turned over, but his namesake Nathan was ideally positioned to latch onto the loose ball. He expertly eyed up the target and proceeded to curl a superb effort beyond the reach of the helpless Clarke.
Although Shels were largely on top of possession, Cobh’s ruthless efficiency in attack meant it was anyone’s game for the taking inside the final quarter. As it transpired, Ramblers held firm in a tension-filled finale and, with Cabinteely suffered a comprehensive defeat to Bray Wanderers, moved up to seventh in the First Division standings.