Abbeyfeale United got off to a very good start in their bid to reclaim the Premier Division title that they last won two seasons ago when they cancelled out Charlie Power’s 5th minute opener for Newcastle West Town with Cormac Roche’s 38th minute penalty and went on to win 4-1 with second-half goals from Adam Riordan, Dylan Quirke and Billy Quirke. ( Newcastle West Town 4 (C. Power 5) Abbeyfeale United 1 (C. Roche pen 38, A. Riordan 58, D. Quirke 72, B. Quirke 90)
Both sides were understrength for this morning kick-off in Woodfield, especially Abbeyfeale who gave competitive debuts to centre-half Dylan Quirke and Adam Riordan in the starting 11 as well as Cathal McCoy from the substitutes bench. Billy Quirke announced during the close season that he was retiring as goalkeeper after thirteen outstanding years for the A-team. However, that didn’t mean his days in an Abbeyfeale shirt were over as joint managers John Kelliher and Thomas Cahill invited him onto the panel as an outfield player and the Newcastle West players and manager Noel Murphy must have done a double-take when they saw Quirke walking onto the pitch with the number ten jersey.
Quirke started playing in goals for Abbeyfeale A when he was still a Youths player and his replacement, Shane O’Connell, is following in that tradition. O’Connell got off to an unfortunate start in the 5th minute when he miscued his attempt to deal with a backpass, allowing the alert Charlie Power to race in and stab home the loose ball. Newcastle didn’t offer a lot in the first-half apart from that goal, content to play balls over the top that mostly didn’t reach their target and they were caught offside on several occasions.
Abbeyfeale were the better team in the first-half but not by a great deal. They dominated possession but were finding it difficult to get a shot on goal, only managing to do so for the first time in the 22nd minute when Kevin Murphy’s snap shot flew across the face of goal. They got the break they needed in the 38th minute when Murphy was brought down just inside the box as he latched onto a super diagonal ball from Fiachra Cotter. Cormac Roche stepped up to take the spot-kick and fired confidently to Robbie Hannon’s left. It was fitting that Roche, Cotter and Murphy were all involved in Abbeyfeale’s equaliser as they were best for the visitors in the opening half, along with Dylan Quirke who announced his presence at this level with a crunching tackle in the 3rd minute. Cotter came close to putting Abbeyfeale ahead in the 42nd minute when he sent a glancing header narrowly wide from a corner by Murphy.
TJ Lane, only recently back from Australia, was another player who played well for Abbeyfeale and it was he who delivered a pass five minutes in the second half to Joe Kelliher, whose shot was cleared off the line by Dylan Moloney.
Abbeyfeale took the lead in the 58th minute when Murphy’s corner from the right broke to Riordan, who marked his debut with a super strike into the top right-hand corner.
The game opened up in the last half-an-hour with both teams creating more chances than previously. Billy Quirke hit the side-netting in the 62nd minute from a kick from the hands by O’Connell and Newcastle almost drew level in the next attack, Power forcing a save from O’Connell and Moloney hitting the post from the rebound. A few minutes later, half-time substitute Seoirse Joyce fired straight at O’Connell from a pass by Moloney.
A Murphy corner was again the source when Abbeyfeale built a two-goal cushion in the 72nd minute. His delivery was met by a Roche header which was fumbled by Hannon and Dylan Quirke crowned a fine debut by tapping in from close range.
Newcastle West were mostly confined to long-range shots in their efforts to get back into the game, though substitute Dylan Singh forced a good save from O’Connell with a shot from nine yards in the 80th minute.
Abbeyfeale put the icing on the cake in the 90th minute when Murphy ran through the defence and then passed left to Billy Quirke who clinically found the back of the net from an angled 13 yards. A case of goalkeeper turned poacher, rather than poacher turned gamekeeper.
Newcastle West Town: Robbie Hannon, Peter Shanahan, Paudie Fitzgerald, Donncha Woods, Jason Brouder, Jordan Hurley, Dylan Moloney, Ray Brouder, Paudie Kinehan, Sean Cronin, Charlie Power. Subs: Seoirse Joyce for Cronin (h-t), Dylan Whelan for Hurley (54 mins), Brendan Guiry for Fitzgerald (70 mins), Dylan Singh for Kinehan (75 mins), Darragh Quilligan, Darragh McCarthy.
Abbeyfeale United: Shane O’Connell, Maurice O’Connor, TJ Lane, Cormac Roche, Dylan Quirke, Kevin Murphy, Joe Kelliher, Fiachra Cotter, Adam Riordan, Tommy Smith, Billy Quirke. Subs: Cathal McCoy for Kelliher (50 mins), Liam Collins for O’Connor (73 mins), Joe Weir, Kieran Wynne.
Man of the Match: Fiachra Cotter (Abbeyfeale United).
Referee: John Roche.