Mallow Town 2 Mallow United 2 (United win 3-1 on penalties)
MALLOW UNITED were celebrating at Turner’s Cross on Wednesday evening at the expense of their arch-rivals Mallow Town as they won the U14 Skechers Local Cup following an enthralling cup final.
A Cormac Cooney brace looked to have won it for Town until United’s John Downey scored a last gasp equaliser deep into injury time.
The sides remained locked at 2-2 at the end of extra time so a shoot-out was needed and there Diarmuid O’Riordan was the hero as the man of the match saved twice to help United lift the silverware with a 3-1 triumph on penalties.
Mallow Town started the game on the front foot and they went close to scoring inside the opening minutes but after turning past his man inside the penalty area, Jamie McAuliffe fired over the crossbar and into the empty Shed End.
Midfielder John Downey cleverly skipped away from his marker in the 13th minute but his low drive was easily saved by goalkeeper Diarmuid O’Riordan.
Town threatened from a set-piece at the other side of the quarter of an hour mark but after captain Eoin Howell’s dangerous free-kick from the left-wing caused problems inside the box, both Daniel Maloney and Stephen O’Donovan failed to bundle the ball home.
Mallow United’s first genuine chance at goal, they took the lead following a superb attacking move.
Aaron Murphy sent Cormac Cooney through on goal with a precise defence-splitting pass and from there the striker was perhaps a little fortunate to see his strike deflect off the defender before dropping into the back of the net.
Town made the most of the water break that immediately followed them falling behind and they almost levelled terms shortly after the restart but Howell’s powerful hit from the edge of the box was saved by the feet of O’Riordan, who did well to readjust to the ball coming through a crowd in front of him.
But there was nothing the shot-stopper could do moments later as Town finally made it 1-1 when Jamie McAuliffe timed his run well and calmly slotted the ball home from a few yards out.
United always looked a threat going forward at the other end though given the sheer pace a number of their attackers possessed and Town needed Gallilo Erhabor, whose namesake Abraham scored twice for the club’s under 12 side in their final win earlier that same evening, to produce a well-timed last-ditch tackle to stop Aaron Murphy from scoring before half time.
But the reprieve was all too brief as United restored their lead with virtually the final kick of the first half and it was that man Cormac Cooney that claimed it.
Cormac Fitzgerald’s excellent inswinging free-kick was brilliantly controlled by Cooney and the number nine calmly tucked the ball past the keeper with the outside of his right boot and across the line despite the best efforts of the defenders.
They started the second period the better team and they twice went close to making it 3-1 moments after the restart.
Nathan Bowler must have thought his effort was destined for the back of the net as he took the ball past the onrushing keeper and fired towards the gaping goal from an incredibly tight angle but Town’s Aaron O’Flynn did well to read the situation and acrobatically hack it off the line.
Jack Quill soon drilled the ball towards the far bottom left corner but his shot was stopped by Town’s netminder Jason Doody, who did brilliantly to stretch to make the save.
United battled until the end and they thought they had done enough to see out the game but Town’s John Downey would break their hearts in injury time when he rifled the ball into the corner after a long throw-in broke kindly to him to send the game to extra time.
The rivals still couldn’t be separated in the additional period so penalties were required and Diarmuid O’Riordan’s two saves helped United claim the cup.