RATHCOOLE Rovers lifted the St Michael’s Cup after defeating holders Blackpool Celtic 3-1 in extra time at Turner’s Cross over the weekend.
And getting the nod for the man of the match was Rathcoole’s Aidan Downey who not alone got a spectacular second goal, but also provided the assist for Jack Daly to slam home his side’s third in extra time.
The first 45 minutes was competitive and exciting, but the second half lost its rhythm as extra time then produced the decisive moments in the end.
But, in the final analysis, it was Rathcoole’s day as captain Brian O’Keeffe rejoiced in front of their ecstatic spectators after the presentation.
Rathcoole started brightly and a neat ball from Anthony Dennehy would have reached the lurking Hanover if Blackpool’s keeper Willie Matthews had not been sharp enough to intervene.
Then, after Brian O’Keeffe dragged his effort across goal, Rathcoole grabbed hold of the early advantage when Jack Murphy’s cross reached the available Jack Hanover who rose to power his header past Matthews for the opener after five minutes.
Minutes later; Evan Murphy picked out Hanover on the right as the striker fired straight at Matthews from an acute angle.
Blackpool started to settle a bit after that and a chance came their way when Dave Twomey’s cross fell into the direction of Alex O’Sullivan, but the winger failed to get his shot away with conviction.
A delightful ball from Blackpool’s Shane Herlihy picked out Timothy Twomey, but as the striker advanced towards goal, he failed to get his shot away - enough to trouble Kieran O’Connor in goal for Rathcoole.
What a chance fell for Blackpool after that when Craig Horgan played in Alex O’Sullivan who gained a yard on his marker, but his final effort was wide of the target.
At the other end, Evan Murphy picked Anthony Dennehy out in a very favourable position, but a super tackle from Blackpool’s Dylan Cruise O’Shea meant that Willie Matthews was allowed pick comfortably.
Soon after, Anthony Dennehy found a way through once again, but Billy Murphy and Matthews joined forces to abort the threat in the end.
Play shifted to the other end and this time, it was a chance for Blackpool when Kevan Chandley set Alex O’Sullivan up with a neat pass, but the winger was denied by a fine save from Kieran O’Connor.
Then, with seconds to the interval, Anthony Dennehy collected from Brian O’Keeffe before seeing his low effort pass agonisingly beyond the far post.
With just minutes into the second period, Kevin O’Sullivan played a sumptuous ball forward for Dave Twomey, but Jamie Carroll performed his defensive duties and tidied up effectively.
The game itself drifted into a fairly mundane affair as the pace reduced considerably, but around the hour mark, a sweeping Blackpool move developed with Kevin O’Sullivan playing it on for Alex O’Sullivan who combined with O’Callaghan before crossing low into the box – only to see Timothy Twomey failing to get a vital touch near goal.
Blackpool then forced a corner on the right, but from the delivery, Dave Twomey failed to keep his header down.
Then, Rathcoole’s Anthony Dennehy nearly found a way through, but Christopher O’Callaghan got a vital interception to foil the opportunity.
But parity was restored with eight minutes left on the clock and it came about when failure by the Rathcoole defence to clear from a corner, allowed Stephen Walsh an opportunity to stab home to send the game into extra time.
Rathcoole’s second arrived when Aidan Downey found space around 25 yards out before unleashing an unstoppable effort into the top corner on 96 minutes.
And it was game set and match for Rathcoole when a cross from Aidan Downy found Jack Daly to slot home into the bottom corner – 3-1 to Rathcoole Rovers.
Willie Matthews, Billy Murphy, Shane Herlihy, Dylan Cruise O’Shea, Jason Hawthorne, Craig Horgan, Dave Twomey, Kevan Chandley, Timothy Twomey, Christopher O’Callaghan, Alex O’Sullivan.
Kevin O’Sullivan for Kevin Chandley (62), Stephen Walsh for Jason Hawthorne (71), Osman Saybak for Dave Twomey (83), Adrian O’Flaherty for Christopher O’Callaghan (104).
Kieran O’Connor, Simon Murphy, Jamie Carroll, Jimmy Herlihy, Shane Carroll, Aidan Downey, Anthony Dennehy, Brian O’Keeffe, Jack Hanover, Evan Murphy, Jack Murphy.
Jack Daly for Jack Hanover (70), Mark Dennehy for Anthony Donnelly (81), Michael Murphy for Jamie Carroll (85),
Stephine Madine, Richard O’Gorman and Alan Kelly.