Blarney United 2
TOP met bottom in this Pop Keller first-round clash in O’Shea Park where First Division leaders Blarney United lost to lowly Kinsale after extra-time.
The visitors led twice in normal time before an injury-time equaliser, after a period of relentless Blarney pressure, forced the game into extra-time where, you would have felt, Blarney would complete the turnaround.
However, the visitors hadn’t read that script.
Kinsale lost 2-0 at home when these two met in the league early in the season and Blarney would have been favourites again here, despite manager Brian Murray leaving a number of regulars out of the starting 11.
Kinsale had quite a few youngsters in their line-up, but it was one of their experienced players, Sean Lyons, who gave them the lead in the 10th minute when he scored from the penalty spot after being fouled by home keeper Stephen Gahan.
Blarney responded well and Cian Connolly, who had a fine game on the right for Blarney, found Michael Cronin, and his first-time shot forced Blarney keeper Stephen O’Neill into a save.
Lyons was in again shortly afterward, stealing possession and making space for a shot from 25 yards which Gahan held comfortably.
At the other end, Greg Barrett had a shot blocked in the box after a bursting run and Dave Desmond’s rebound attempt was easily saved.
Midway through the half, Blarney drew level when, following a Kinsale clearance, the ball was headed back into the danger area by Conor Stokes; Kinsale didn’t deal with it, and the ball fell for Thomas Carroll inside the penalty area and he drilled it low past O’Neill.
Blarney had the momentum now and 10 minutes later, another good delivery from Connolly on the right found Barrett, but his header in the six-yard box flew over.
Five minutes later Barrett tried his luck from a 30 yards free-kick that forced O’Neill to get down and save at his near post.
Blarney continued to press towards the break and Carroll had a header go wide at the near post after good work by Corey Murphy on the left.
Blarney had finished the half in the ascendency, but it was Kinsale who started the second period on the front foot.
Inside the first minute, Lyons got a touch on the end of a cross from the right into the penalty area, but not enough to guide it on target and the ball went wide.
Two minutes later, though, Kinsale had restored their lead when some sloppy defending allowed Conor Power in and he made no mistake inside the penalty area.
Shortly afterward Murray sprung some of his big guns from the bench, Ray O’Leary, Martin O’Sullivan, and Aaron O’Raw coming into the action and almost immediately the tempo of the game changed.
O’Sullivan came close with a fine effort from outside of his right foot on the hour mark, while Murphy forced a save from O’Neill after O’Sullivan set him up on the left side of the penalty area.
On 69 minutes O’Leary sent in a free from distance that struck to post and was cleared and three minutes later a Connolly cross from the right forced O’Neill to tip the ball over for a corner.
Murphy brought another save out of O’Neill, and O’Sullivan had a header saved by the keeper as Blarney piled on the pressure.
Chances continued to fall Blarney’s way; Carroll hit the side netting after O’Neill’s clearance under pressure fell to him while O’Sullivan hit the post and then had an overhead kick saved by the Kinsale keeper.
Time was running out for Blarney, but they finally got the equaliser when O’Sullivan scored in injury-time after a scramble in the penalty area.
The momentum should have been with Blarney in extra-time after Kinsale had to play a rearguard action for most of the second half.
However, they re-grouped and found another gear, and had a good chance in the first period but John O’Brien’s header was easily saved by Gahan.
Blarney couldn’t drum up the intensity that had brought their equaliser and they found themselves behind again with two minutes remaining.
Donnacha O’Mahony’s shot from the edge of the box was blocked by Gahan, but it broke nicely for Ben Shanahan on the angle of the box and he drilled the ball low into the far corner.
Blarney had to go to the well again, but this time they had no more and Kinsale saw out the game to book a home date with Leeds in the second round.
BLARNEY UNITED: Stephen Gahan, Conor Cronin, David Murray, Michael Cronin, Eric Baxter, Conor Stokes, Cian Connolly, Dave Desmond, Corey Murphy, Thomas Carroll, Greg Barrett.
Subs: Aaron O’Raw, Martin O’Sullivan, and Ray O’Leary for Murray, Cronin, and Barrett (all 57), Kieran Murray and Paul Mullins for Stokes and Desmond (both 71).
KINSALE: Stephen O’Neill, Ben Shanahan, Florence Lynch, Shane O’Connell, Brian Crowley, Daniel Searls, Daniel Williams, Cian Cunningham, Sean Lyons, Jian Earle, Conor Power.
Subs: John O’Brien for Lynch (ht), Gerard O’Callaghan and Harry Sheehan for Crowley and Earle (both 57), Donnacha O’Mahony and Alex Nodwell for Power and Cunningham (both 75).
Referee: Anthonoy Buttimer.