Cork United 1 West Cork 0
CORK United secured another important victory in the U12 SFAI Inter League as they narrowly defeated their rivals from West Cork 1-0 on the Ballea Park astro-turf on a wet and windy Easter Sunday morning.
It took a moment of real quality to earn Cork United the three points and Alex Maloney produced it in the second half when he drilled a sensational free-kick into the far corner to ensure his side recovered from their opening game loss to Limerick District A with back to back triumphs in their group.
United were impressive 4-1 victors in their last outing against Kerry B two weeks previous and using that confidence, they started brightly here.
They threatened to take the lead inside just five minutes when midfielder Bryan Wiecek teed up James Kenefick but the striker couldn’t get the ball out from under his feet properly so he had to improvise and his clever backheel was well saved.
The number nine also went close to firing his side in front midway through the first half but after cutting the ball past his marker and onto his left foot, he rolled the ball just wide of the bottom right corner.
West Cork soon grew into the game and they almost snatched the lead moments later but after brilliant work in the build-up by Ethan O’Donovan and then a clever combination with Rory Ecklof, the talented forward’s powerful hit was stopped by keeper Caleb Murray.
The home side retook control of proceedings as half time approached but they couldn’t grab the crucial opening goal of the game before the break as Rocky O’Callaghan - the son of Cork City’s legendary attacker George - saw a fierce strike denied by Charlie Curtin, who also got down to turn Wiecek’s low shot wide of his bottom right corner.
The boys from the Cork Schoolboys League started the second period on the front foot and O’Callaghan almost broke the deadlock with a sensational individual effort.
The playmaker skipped past his man before producing an incredible Zidane-esque turn past his next opponent - something his father did on many occasions at Turner’s Cross - before unleashing a thunderous shot that the keeper somehow saved at his near post.
But the goal that Cork United deserved finally came with just 17 minutes remaining and it was a goal worthy of winning any match.
Alex Maloney placed the ball down on the edge of the box before drilling an unstoppable strike around the wall and into the far bottom left corner of the net.
They almost doubled their advantage which would have surely sealed the victory and helped avoid a nervous finale but Kenefick was desperately unlucky to see his attempt crash against the outside of the back upright.
But in the end, there was no late tension as Cork United kept their composure and possession of the ball to make sure they made it two wins on the bounce.