Maynooth University Town 3 Cobh Ramblers 2
JACKSON Ryan’s 81st-minute goal was the difference at John Hyland Park on Saturday as 10-man Cobh Ramblers crashed out of the FAI Cup with a second-round defeat to Maynooth University Town.
Having already accounted for Leinster Senior League opposition Liffey Wanderers in the opening phase of the competition, Ramblers were looking to do the same at the home ground of Dublin club St Francis.
However, their north Kildare counterparts were hell-bent on defying the odds with an own goal from John Kavanagh (who was later dismissed in the second half) and a Jack O’Connor strike twice propelling them into the lead. Conor Drinan and Jason Abbott cancelled out both of these efforts, but it was Ryan who ensured that Maynooth will now progress to the quarter-final of the competition.
Cobh were getting some joy in the wide areas during the early exchanges, with Ian Turner and Conor Drinan providing ample support to lone striker Ciaran Griffin. Nonetheless, Maynooth didn’t have any fear of their League of Ireland rivals and subsequently took the lead in the 18th-minute.
Sven Biansumba was attempting to pick out one of his teammates from a byline cross but, instead, Ramblers skipper Kavanagh inadvertently steered the ball into his own net. Although there was a massive element of fortune about this deadlock-breaker, it had the Maynooth faithful dreaming of a spot in the last-eight.
There was still plenty of time for Ramblers to work their way back into contention and Kavanagh was one man who didn’t shy away from the challenge at hand. His precise pass released Drinan down the right-wing on 25 minutes, but the lively attacker’s resulting strike drifted past the far post.
Maynooth suffered a blow just the half-hour when winger Cillian Duffy was withdrawn through injury and with the underdogs losing one of their more dynamic performers, Cobh looked to build up their own confidence levels.
Naythan Coleman climbed highest to meet a set-piece delivery in the 38th-minute and it took an outstanding stop from opposition netminder Shane Fagan to deny the centre-half.
Ramblers significantly increased the pressure on the Maynooth goal as the interval approached and got their just rewards deep into first-half stoppage-time. Kavanagh floated a telling cross into the box and Drinan directed a precise header into the bottom right-hand corner of the net.
This left the teams on level terms at the break and with the tie very much up for grabs on the restart. Even though some of the sting had gone out of Maynooth’s play, the interval seemingly did them the world of good.
After enjoying a sustained spell of possession, Patrick O’Sullivan had a powerful shot superbly tipped over the bar by Sean Barron. Cobh were struggling to find their feet in the early moments of the second period, but it was hoped that the introduction of Darren Murphy and Danny O’Connell could go some way to fixing this.
Maynooth were determined to leave their mark on the proceedings, however, and restored their one-goal advantage inside the final quarter. After cutting inside from the left-flank, substitute O’Connor fired emphatically beyond the reach of Barron.
The 75th-minute dismissal of Kavanagh for violent conduct was a further blow for Ramblers, but they received a lifeline just four minutes later. Displaying nerves of steel, midfielder Abbott dispatched a coolly-struck spot-kick to the back of the Maynooth net.
The prospect of extra-time was beginning to rear its head once again, only for the Leinster men to take the game in a different direction. Just nine minutes from the end of normal time, Ryan smashed home at a tight-angle to leave the non-league outfit within sight of a famous victory.
Despite their numerical deficiency, Cobh piled on the pressure during six tension-filled minutes of injury-time. However, a third equaliser eluded them and they join Cork City in exiting the FAI Cup at the last-16 stage.
Shane Fagan; Darragh Gannon, Conor Dunne, Jake Corrigan, Alex Fitzgibbon (Sean Traynor 75); Alex Kelly, Conor Foley (Conor Delahunty 87); Jackson Ryan, Patrick O’Sullivan (Dylan Pierce 75), Cillian Duffy (Eoin O’Neill 34); Sven Biansumba (Jack O’Connor 61).
Sean Barron; John Kavanagh, Ben O’Riordan, Naythan Coleman (Darren Murphy 56), Lee Devitt; Killian Cooper, Jason Abbott, Nathan O’Connell; Ian Turner, Ciaran Griffin (Danny O’Connell 56), Conor Drinan (Stephen O’Leary 85).