Kildimo United retained the Division 1 League Cup in dramatic fashion when they beat Ballysteen 5-4 on sudden-death penalties after the sides finished level at 2-2 in a full-blooded Final in Clounreask on Friday night.
Kildimo were ahead twice in a compelling contest. Their opener came in the 25th minute when Pakie Moran’s attempted clearance hit his fellow centre-half Declan Somers and broke kindly for alert centre-forward Dara Deegan, who made the most of the unexpected opportunity with a clinical finish. Ballysteen thought they had been given a reprieve when assistant referee Sean Harnett had his flag raised for offside but, after a consultation, referee Ger O’Connor allowed the goal to stand.
There was little between the teams in this frenetic, end-to-end battle and Ballysteen deservedly equalised in the 38th minute. What a goal it was! Kildimo centre-half, Ken Gallagher, won a good header on the edge of his box and there appeared to be no immediate danger when the ball broke to Ed Gallagher 30 yards out. However, Gallagher stunned Kildimo and delighted the Ballysteen supporters by immediately unleashing a rocket that dipped just under the crossbar.
Ballysteen would have taken the lead midway through the second half but for a tremendous save by Evan Considine from Shane Hallinan’s well-struck shot. Ballysteen were unlucky not to win it three minutes into injury-time when John O’Shaugnessy’s magnificent 25-yard strike hit the crossbar, with Considine saving Sean Whelan’s attempt from the rebound.
Mossie Sheehan won the Man of the Match award for his hard-working and creative performance in the centre of midfield and the quality of his passing was evident in his penetrating pass to Adam Butler for Kildimo’s second goal near the end of the first period of extra-time. Butler did the rest, with an accurate finish.
That goal looked like it would be enough to win it for Kildimo until Ed Gallagher equalised for the second time three minutes from the end of extra-time. Substitute Chris McMahon passed up the line to Pakie Moran, who had been pushed forward by manager Brian Barry after an outstanding performance at centre-half for most of the game. Moran’s low cross was met by Gallagher, who crowned a tremendous display from him by taking the Final to penalties.
It was 4-3 to Kildimo after four penalties each in the shootout, with Dara Deegan, Butler, Gloster and Daniel O’Brien converting for Kildimo, while Ranahan, Moran and Sean Whelan were successful for Ballysteen, whose third kick, taken by Jack Neville, brought a tremendous save from Considine. Sheehan would have won it for Kildimo if he had converted their fifth but he didn’t manage to do so. Ed Gallagher needed to score to take it to sudden-death and he duly did, with an unstoppable effort. The tie was resolved in the first pair of sudden-death penalties, with Ken Gallagher converting, while Chris McMahon’s effort drew another save from Considine.
Kildimo manager, Kieran Deegan and his assistants Paul Byrnes and Kevin Gallagher, can feel immensely proud of the character and resolve shown by their players in this intense battle. Along with Sheehan, the players who stood out most were right-back Shane Gloster, big centre-halves John McHale and Ken Gallagher and striker Deegan, who made four crucial challenges when he was moved back in front of the back four when Kildimo were defending their 2-1 lead in extra-time.
Deegan is a great striker and he would have done more damage when he was up front but for a super marking job by Moran, who vied with Ed Gallagher for the accolade of Ballysteen’s best player. Gallagher’s deliveries from corners and free-kicks from the left were top class and the same can be said about Ranahan’s deliveries from the right. Every corner caused consternation in the Kildimo ranks, with a couple of them resulting in goal-line clearances. The management team of Barry and his assistants, Ger Sommers and Mike Neville, made four substitutions, with Chris McMahon making a strong contribution in extra-time, starting the move that led to Ballysteen’s equaliser.
Kildimo United: Evan Considine, Shane Gloster, Barry Walsh, Ken Gallagher, John McHale, Niall Guinan, Mossy Sheehan, Ciaran Deegan, Mike Vwatse, Dara Deegan, Adam Butler. Subs: Ger McKeogh for Vwatse (37 mins), Kieran McMahon for Guinan (51 mins), Brendan O’Shea for Walsh (68 mins), Daniel O’Brien for McMahon, inj. (92 mins), Darren Lane, Conor Ryan, Rory O’Donnell.
Ballysteen: Conor Ranahan, Brian Neville, David O’Donoghue, Pakie Moran, Declan Somers, Brian Howard, Shane Gallagher, Ed Gallagher, Mark Ranahan, John O’Shaughnessy, Shane Hallinan. Subs: Sean Whelan for Howard (50 mins), Chris McMahon for O’Donoghue (99 mins), David Holland and Jack Neville for Hallinan and O’Shaughnessy (101 mins), Jamie O’Sullivan, John Blackwell, Robert Cuddihy.
Man of the Match: Mossy Sheehan (Kildimo United).
Referee: Ger O’Connor
Assistant Referees: Sean Harnett and Jim Molyneaux.
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