CORK went into the final of the prestigious Kennedy Cup on the weekend hoping to become just the fourth CSL side to win the trophy in its over four decades of existence but a single goal from South Belfast ultimately ended their hopes of doing so.
After topping their group, Cork went on to beat Limerick District in a tight 1-0 away victory in the quarter-finals. Zoran Teodorovic’s side then travelled to the RSC Sports Complex in Waterford in the semi-finals.
On the day, the Leesiders deservedly earned the all-important victory in a confidence-boosting 2-1 win at the expense of hosts Waterford. In the other semi-final, South Belfast sprung a surprise on the competition when they defeated current holders the DDSL to earn their place in the final and a highly anticipated final subsequently took place in Limerick on the weekend.
A tight contest between two well-organised sides ensued. The strong winds and bad weather would play a big role in the game and as a result, Cork found it difficult to play the fluid style that they had become accustomed to throughout the tournament.
Instead, the team were forced into a battle against a team who opted for direct attacks and a lot of long balls over the Cork back three culminated in Kian Lane racing from his goal-line to clear the danger.
Teodorovic opted to bring on Mallow Town’s Alex Uwumarogie midway through the first half and the youngster’s long throw-ins caused a number of problems for the South Belfast rear-guard.
Indeed, one throw-in on the 25-minute mark culminated in a frantic goalmouth scramble deep in the South Belfast box and the woodwork intervened to keep the score at 0-0. As the game progressed, Cork realised a more direct route was required if they were to find the net and a number of accurate balls into the Belfast box almost created an opening but the game remained scoreless at the break nonetheless.
Lane was on hand to make an important save before half time but the Mayfield United shot-stopper had to gather the ball from the back of his net five minutes into the second half when an in-swinging South Belfast corner flew beyond everyone and into the goal via the back post.
Evan Cummins of Springfield Ramblers led by example in midfield thereafter and Mallow Town’s Gallilo Erhabor excelled in defence. Cork threw everything at their opponents throughout the remainder of the game and despite a number of openings, South Belfast held out for the all-important win.
Cork reached the final for the first time in 14 years and Teodorovic was proud of his players.
“It will take a while for these players to realise that they achieved so much this year despite not winning the tournament and I am very proud of the team.”
Kian Lane (Mayfield United), Mike Malisa (Passage), James O’Flaherty ( College Corinthians), Gallilo Erhabor (Mallow Town), James Coyne (Youghal United), James O’Brien (College Corinthians), Zach Forde (Leeds), Robert O’Leary (Douglas Hall), Keelan Kavanagh (Douglas Hall), Colm Harte, (Carrigtwohill United), Eoin Howell (Mallow Town), Evan Cummins (Springfield Ramblers), Kyle Moroney, (Carrigaline United), Johnathon McLaughlin (Douglas Hall), Dylan McCarthy (Douglas Hall), Dylan Lyons, (Midleton), Jack Barry (Passage), Alex Uwumarogie (Mallow Town), Adam O’Mahony (Lakewood Athletic), Billy Higgins (College Corinthians), Jack Morley (Riverstown), Rollie Durango (Carrigtwohill United), Aaron Murphy (Mallow United), Dylan O’Rourke (Leeds), David Ebo (Midleton).
Zoran Teodorovic (Manager), Mark Turner (Coach), Paul O’Brien (Coach), Noel Cantwell (Goalkeeping Coach), Stewart Dollery (Physio).