SLIDESHOW: Broadford make it through to Desmond Cup final

Frank Nelligan

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Frank Nelligan

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sport@limerickleader.ie

Desmond Cup semi-final

Broadford United 3 (J. Keane 4, M. Brosnan 28, 35)Rathkeale 1 

Rathkeale went into last Friday night’s Desmond Cup semi-final against Broadford United in Mick Hanley Park with the ambition of reaching the Final for the third time in four seasons but they were fighting a losing battle from the moment young Jamie Keane opened the scoring for Broadford in the 4th minute.

A fully-functioning Rathkeale could have recovered from that early setback but they underperformed on the night and found themselves 3-0 down in the 35th minute after Michael Brosnan had scored two goals in seven minutes for a fired-up Broadford. When Pa Ahern pulled a goal back for Rathkeale in the 38th minute it certainly wasn’t too late but it did ultimately prove to be too little as Broadford did a very professional job of not allowing any further inroads into their lead.

Motivation is a big factor in any encounter and Broadford had the big motivating factor that the Desmond Cup represents their last opportunity to win a trophy this season, while Rathkeale are 12 points clear in the Premier Division and are through to the League Cup semi-finals.

Broadford’s greater urgency was evident from the outset. Early pressure isn’t always reflected on the scoreboard but that’s what happened in the 4th minute when Darren Murphy went on a solo run from midfield and then had the composure to pick out a defence-splitting pass to Keane, who belied his tender years with a cool finish past Brendan Carmody. The goal represented a double blow for Rathkeale as centre-half Mikey Hickey was injured in his attempt to prevent it and had to be substituted immediately with a badly swollen ankle.

Broadford had been forced into a reshuffle even before the match started, as centre-half Seamus Brosnan was injured in the warm-up. The decision taken by the management team of Jim Neenan, Tom Kelly, Chris Purcell and Ger Kennedy was to introduce promising Youths player, Kieran O’Flynn, on the right side of midfield and drop Timmy Larking back to left-back from right midfield. O’Flynn’s presence brought the number of Youths players on the starting eleven to three, joining Keane and Colm Ryan.

Joe McAuliffe is strong at set-pieces and he came close to doubling Broadford’s lead in the 17th minute with a near-post header that flashed wide from a corner by Murphy. Another chance came two minutes later when Micheal Brosnan got between two defenders before posting a low cross that was cut out.

At this stage, Broadford appeared the more composed side, with Rathkeale looking rather disjointed. Rathkeale at last began to pose a bit of a threat around the midway point of the first-half when Declan Nash had a shot blocked and Gary Enright’s show was deflected into the arms of Patrick Stack.

However, the signs of a Rathkeale revival were short-lived and Broadford raced into a 3-0 lead with Brosnan’s two goals in seven minutes. The first of them was a super individual effort, the midfielder twisting and turning before rifling inside the left-hand post from 25 yards.

The build-up to Brosnan’s second goal began when his fellow midfielder, Willie O’Brien, played a penetrating behind the defence. A Rathkeale defender tried to shepherd it over the endline but reckoned without the persistence of Murphy, who kept it in play and laid it back to Brosnan who drilled to the back of the net from 16 yards.

A quick response was needed from Rathkeale if the game wasn’t to be as good as over at half-time and it came within three minutes when Jack Hennessy’s low cross from the left was converted by Ahern.

Ratkeale manager Alan Doyle and his assistants, Johnny Markham and Johnny Mooney, decided to make a change at half-time by bringing on Thomas Quilligan in the centre of midfield for Keith Harnett. Broadford made two changes at the break, bringing on James Molyneaux at left-back and Sean Brosnan on the right of midfield.

Rathkeale were bright and energetic for the opening minutes of the second-half but they soon ran out of ideas against Broadford’s top-class back four of full-backs Dylan Kelly and Molyneaux and centre-halves John Paul King and McAuliffe. King, in particular, was magnificent, exemplary in his reading of the game and the timing of his tackles, with one tackle on substitute Shane Doherty being of the textbook variety.  Rathkeale’s only weapon on the night appeared to be the pace and penetration of Neville but even he was unable to penetrate the Broadford back four.

Broadford weren’t too ambitious in pushing for a fourth but they had a few promising moves, especially when Ryan and Murphy were on the ball. The closest that Broadford came to scoring again was in the 78th minute when King’s 15-yard shot from Murphy’s corner was cleared off the line by Alan O’Shea.

Broadford are now just one victory away from reclaiming the trophy that they last won two seasons ago when they beat Glin Rovers in extra-time in a thriller. They will be hard to beat in the Final if they are at full-strength.  

As for Rathkeale, they must now lick their wounds after this surprisingly sub-standard performance as they prepare to try and win the League and League Cup double.

Broadford United: Patrick Stack, Dylan Kelly, Timmy Larkin, John Paul King, Joe McAuliffe, Kieran O’Flynn, Micheal Brosnan, William O’Brien, Colm Ryan, Darren Murphy, Jamie Keane. Subs: James Molyneaux and Sean Brosnan for Larkin (inj) and Kieran O’Flynn (h-t), CJ Fitzpatrick for Keane (80 mins), Ross Egan for Ryan (86 mins), Darragh Ryan for Murphy (90 mins), Gary Egan, Alan Fitzpatrick, Micheal Begley, Kieran Herlihy, Jack Pierce, Donal Molyneaux, Gearoid Greaney.

Rathkeale: Brendan Carmody, Eoin O’Donnell, Alan O’Shea, Mikey Hickey, Sean O’Shea, Jack Hennessy, Keith Harnett, Gary Enright, Danny Neville, Declan Nash, Pa Ahern. Subs: Mikey Morrissey for Hickey inj (5 mins), Thomas Quilligan for Harnett (h-t), Shane Doherty for Nash (59 mins), Pa Wilmott, Mike Quilligan.  

Referee: Ger O’Connor.

Assistant Referees: Pat King and John Roche.

Fourth Official: Tony Fitzmaurice.