Shannon shows class as Campile retain title
DAVID SHANNON left his mark all over this final with two stunning first-half goals that made it a painful afternoon for New Ross Celtic as holders Campile United went on to retain the Carlton Millrace Hotel & Spa Cup after this windswept final at Ballycullane on Sunday last.
The Barrowsiders were sunk by this composed and skilful display from the cup holders who took full advantage of the strong wind through the opening 45 minutes, a period when they laid the foundations for this victory. And it was no more than they deserved as they defended superbly in the secondhalf when the back four was well marshalled by the excellent Graham Howlin and the skilful play of Leigh O'brien, as they cut out all routes to goal with some solid and skilful work.
New Ross Celtic, despite getting back into the game before the break, were unable to utilise the elements in the second-half to the same extent as their opponents. It was in midfield that they fell down, as they were totally outplayed by the excellent Paddy Murphy and Johnny Keating while Barry Hearn provided a real cutting edge with an unbelievable 90 minutes of hard graft.
New Ross Celtic for some strange reason were unable to raise their game. Their failure to apply pressure even when wind assisted in the secondhalf saw them fail to get a direct shot on goal. They somehow conspired to put the crucial final pass astray, but this could in no small way be attributed to the tight man-marking of their opponents who forced them into quick passes, but overall they seemed powerless in their efforts to break down the eventual winners' back four.
Both sides looked threatening with quick breakaway attacks through the opening ten minutes, with David Shannon showing an early threat as he powered an Emmett Dunning pass just wide. But one had only to wait until the eleventh minute before the deadlock was broken and what a goal it was.
Campile, having successfully broken up a New Ross Celtic attack, saw Leigh O'brien loft a long ball forward. With the New Ross Celtic back four caught flat, it was David Shannon who ran onto the ball, showing a delightful first touch to control before powering home a superb 25-metre shot to the top left-hand corner of the net, giving his side a 1-0 lead.
It was the sharpness of Campile that saw them gain control of the following 20 minutes, with P.J. Banville having a shot blocked away by left fullback Stephen O'leary, while in a follow-up attack the same player forced a corner from which David Shannon had a downward header cleared.
However, New Ross Celtic were restricted to quick counter-attacks, but never threatening Darren O'reilly in the goal. After 26 minutes Campile struck for their second goal. Banville broke quickly from midfield down the left, and squared the ball to David Larkin whose long, accurate cross was met by the head of the rising Shannon who superbly guided his effort downwards into the bottom lefthand corner of the net for a truly superb goal, leaving his side sitting pretty with a 2-0 lead which was no more than they deserved.
Mark Lee was trying everything up front in an effort to haul his side back into the game. He came close to scoring after 30 minutes but his shot was blocked away in a crowded goalmouth, while the return cross from Damien Cullen was headed just over the top by Johnny Mullett.
They almost clawed a goal back in the 35th minute but Michael Grangel saw his shot which looked on target knocked away to safety by the outstretched boot of Graham Howlin, but it was a rather bizarre goal that hauled the Barrowsiders right back into the game.
Damien Cullen played a ball across the face of the goal that appeared to deflect off the body of Leigh O'brien before hitting the left of Stephen O'neill who knew little about it, but it ended in the corner of the net, six minutes before the break, making it 2-1 which was how it remained until the interval.
The second-half saw the game deteriorate in the gale-force wind, as Campile showed composure in defending, so much so that they never allowed their opponents one direct shot on goal, while at the opposite end, Campile looked quite dangerous as they counter-attacked at speed.
After Grangel and Mark Lee had shots blocked by the defence, it was the turn of Campile's Paddy Murphy to blaze over the top midway through the second period. The only real goal chance came in the 80th minute when a Barry Hearn free kick was met by the head of Graham Howlin whose powerful effort was cleared off the line by Matt O'neill.
Although New Ross Celtic battled to the end, Campile never lost their composure, successfully playing down the clock with some neat football to go on and retain the cup before the largest crowd seen at a cup final for many seasons.
After the game it was two-goal David Shannon who was named as man of the match.