Here's my match report for the UCC Express.
Douglas Hall 3 (Wilkinson 45, Rob Hourihan O.G. 71, O’Leary 80)
UCC 1 (Duggan pen. 14)
Munster Senior League, Sunday 2 November 2008.
By Joseph Sexton.
UCC have made a strong start to this season’s Munster Senior League campaign, and went into this game joint top alongside Blarney, with 8 points from four games. Unfortunately, an excellent second-half performance perennial title-challengers Douglas Hall showed that this promising College team are a long way from being the finished article.
It might have been a very different outcome had fortune not deserted the visitors at several key moments. College were more than a match for the hosts in the opening exchanges, and deservedly took the lead inside the quarter hour mark from Daniel Duggan’s spot-kick following a handball by Hall defender Seamus Long.
Hall’s only real chance in the opening exchanges came two minutes later, but James O’Leary’s snatched effort dribbled wide of Bambury’s goal. College displayed a willingness to get stuck-in, with Tommy Earls looking impressively solid at right-back. Ahead of him on the flank, Luke Burgess was more than willing to track back and lend a hand.
Burgess was turned by Hall’s Ronan Stanton just before the half-hour, and although O’Leary got a good head on the ball Bambury was at hand to make a smart save. College’s influential midfielder Duggan had gone down as the ball was played across though, and had to make way for Richard Ryan.
Although Hall created another few chances, most notably when O’Connell glanced a header wide, College were certainly not discouraged. They ought to have increased their lead seven minutes before the interval, but the match referee John Lyne inexplicably disallowed Barry Kirby’s headed goal following a Tommy Earls free-kick. Even the Douglas Hall manager accepted that the decision had been a real let-off for his team, and this proved the turning point in the game.
Although College continued to pin the hosts back, and indeed were unlucky again just moments later as McCarthy had a a header hacked clear of the line, Hall were beginning to regain their composure. That said, it was shockingly bad luck for College to concede in the final minute of the half. The goal came from a corner on the right, with defender Wilkinson getting in front of his marker to head home form the near post.
Hall were a vastly improved side after the interval, and College were forced onto the back-foot. Earls did have to make a goal-line clearance after 58 minutes, but they were coping admirably with the pressure until lady luck smiled upon the hosts again.
With 20 minutes remaining Hall’s Keith Stanton broke free on the right, and whipped in a low cross which evaded Bambury. Hourihan tried to to remove the danger but only succeeded in turning the ball in to this own net. It was a heartbreaking moment for the centre-back, who had given an exemplary performance up to that point.
College tried to pick themselves up, but were looking exposed as the hosts tried to ram their superiority home. The red-haired substitute Gerald O’Donovan, nicknamed Strachan by his colleagues, revelled in the space vacated as the visitors tried to push forward. Haring into space on the right, he played an inviting ball across the 6 yard box for James O’Leary to complete the scoring.
College’s manager Brendan Manley was in stoic humour at the final whistle, refusing to blame the referee for the defeat. “We did play extremely well in the first half, but Hall are an excellent team and they played some great stuff in the second half. We found it very hard once they got going. It was certainly a terrible decision to disallow [McCarthy’s] goal, and conceding just before the break really hurt us. But from the second half, there’s no doubt that Hall deserved their win”.
College will now look to regain their momentum away next Saturday to a St Mary’s team that have made an indifferent start to the season. Despite this defeat, they can take immense heart from the way they put it up to Hall in the opening period, and the potential is certainly there for the team to go on to have a successful campaign.
Adrian O’Donovan; Joe Mc Sorley (Gerald O’Donovan), Robert Brohan, Brian Wilkinson, Seamus Long; Ronan Stanton, David Moore, Keith Stanton, James O’Leary; Declan O’Connell (John McCarthy), Mark Murphy (David Hackett).
Mark Bambury; Simon Hedderman, Rob Hourihan, Michael McSweeney, Tommy Earls; Padraig O’Brien (Stephen O’Brien), Ciaran Forde, Daniel Duggan (Richard Ryan), Luke Burgess; Eoin McCarthy, Barry Kirby (Kieran Corbett).