St. Ita’s won the Division 2 League Cup for the second time in three seasons when an extra-time goal by centre-half Niall O’Brien secured a hard-earned 1-0 victory against Glin Rovers B on Saturday evening in Clounreask.
O’Brien’s winner came in the third minute of the first period of extra-time when he got the finishing touch to Sean Curtin’s corner to the far post and assistant referee Pat King deemed that the ball had crossed the line before being cleared by Bernard Dalton.
That turned out to be the decisive moment in the game but the contest could just as easily have been decided in the final 30 seconds of normal time when Sean Horan’s penetrating pass put Glin B skipper Barclay Costello through on goal with just the keeper to beat. The Glin supporters sensed a glorious winner from the player whose two semi-final goals against Rathkeale B had got them to the final but, uncharacteristically, Costello fired wide of the left-hand post.
Despite finishing on the losing side, Glin B centre-half Aidan Mulvihill won the Match of the Match award, a testimony to his superb marking job in the second-half and in extra-time on Damien Breen. Glin manager Mike Stack recognised that Breen was St. Ita’s most dangerous player in the first-half and put Mulvihill on him just before half-time.
Others to do well for St. Ita’s in a scrappy first-half were attacking right-back Liam Roche, midfielders Martin Mullane and Sean Curtin and number 10 Neil Casey. It was Roche who came closest to scoring for St. Ita’s in the first-half, forcing a one-handed save from Joe Downey with what may well have been intended as a low cross.
Cian Culhane, operating at outside-left, was Glin’s best attacking player in the first-half, his pace and penetration ensuring a battle royale with Roche. In the last minute of the half, Culhane’s low cross was heading for the unmarked Michael Sheehy until intercepted by goalkeeper Niall McEnery.
Chances were equally scarce in the second-half. Glin B came close on the hour when Ger Lyons’ header from Edward Mulvihill’s corner was looking good until blocked by a defender on the post. In the 76th minute, Breen escaped the shackles of Aidan Mulvihill for long enough to deliver a cross to Neil Casey, who fired wide. That move was started by Peter Mulcahy, who made an impact after coming on as a half-time substitute.
Ten minutes before his injury-time miss, Costello had a half-chance when he fired over from a back-header by his brother, Oakley. That left the coast clear for someone else to become a hero and that turned out to be O’Brien, who had caught the eye on a few occasions earlier in the game with his surging runs from centre-half.
Glin never looked like getting an equaliser and it was St. Ita’s who came closest to scoring again when Curtin delivered a defence-splitting pass to Casey, who was denied by the advancing Downey.
Casey has been a great player for St. Ita’s for many seasons and his delight in accepting the trophy from Limerick Desmond League Chairman, Joe Hogan, was evident. Casey concluded his acceptance by thanking Moss Brouder, who has made a successful return to management after taking a break for a number of years.
St. Ita’s: Niall McEnery, Liam Roche, Conor Begley, Niall O’Brien, Darren Fitzgibbon, Aaron Kelly, Sean Curtin, Martin Mullane, Sion Hickey, Neil Casey, Damien Breen. Subs: Peter Mulcahy for Hickey (h-t), Shane Brouder for Begley (74 mins), Paul Fitzpatrick for Roche, inj (94 mins), Liam Mulcahy for Casey (107 mins), John Flynn, Chris Wrenne, Damien Brouder, John Ambrose.
Glin Rovers B: Joe Downey, Sean Horan, Stephen Martin, Ger Lyons, Aidan Mulvihill, Michael Sheehy, Oakley Costello, Bernard Dalton, Cian Culhane, Edward Mulvihill, Barclay Costello. Subs: Padraig Horan for Sheehy (76 mins), Patrick O’Shaughnessy for Mulvihill (91 mins), Ian Hogan for Martin (105 mins), Jonathan Pledge for Dalton (108 mins), Darragh McKenna for Horan (110 mins), Eoin Woulfe.
Man of the Match: Aidan Mulvihill (Glin Rovers B)
Referee: Tony Fitzmaurice
Assistant Referees: Pat King and Pat O’Donnell
Fourth Official: Jim Molyneaux