Sunday 17 December 2017

Dream still alive

Greystones United 0 Cobh Wanderers 0

Andrew O’Brien of Greystones United looks on as Stephen Metcalfe and Jack Tanner challenge for the ball
Andrew O’Brien of Greystones United looks on as Stephen Metcalfe and Jack Tanner challenge for the ball

Daniel Gorman at Woodlands

The Aviva dream is still alive for Greystones United thanks to Adam Hayden and Jack Tanner.

Had it not been for some fine interventions from the goalkeeper and right-back, a dire contest would have been decided in Cobh Wanderers' favour in the second half at the Woodlands.

A couple of hundred viewers flocked to the seaside venue expecting some high-quality football in this FAI Intermediate Cup semi-final. They would leave disappointed.

But despite an extremely below-par performance from Gary Dempsey's side, they live to fight another day and will ensure that they don't disappoint again at the Cork venue in Saturday's replay.

Hosts Greystones lined out in an old-school 4-4-2 formation and striker pairing Karl Manahan and Dempsey combined to create the first whiff of an opportunity. When Manahan's man stood off, he surged past him and worked it out to Dempsey. The seasoned pro whipped in a delicious cross that found Ian Jordan but the midfielder couldn't keep his strike down.

Tanner was responsible for the next strike as he used brute force to barge his way into the opposing penalty area but he was put under pressure as he got his shot away and the result was a wide.

Cobh had been untroubled but also uninspiring thus far so in the 21st minute Ian Stapleton unleashed a shot in anger that didn't trouble Adam Hayden but with almost a quarter of the tie elapsed, it was enough to cause Dempsey to berate his side for their no-show.

David Crosbie could have cheered his manager up considerably on 37 minutes. Dempsey and ex-Seagull Gareth McDonagh combined neatly with a series of short, first-time passes to send Crosbie clear. He was obstructed as he looked to latch onto the pass but despite a free kick being awarded, the referee decided against taking further action against the covering defender.

From the resulting free kick, Dempsey lifted the deadball over the wall but it didn't dip in time to creep under the crossbar.

There was almost a sucker-punch for Greystones at the end of the first period.

Stapleton broke the offside trap and broke free but before he could consider which corner to stick the ball in, Hayden burst 30 yards out of his goal to agriculturally clear the danger.

Cobh threatened again early in the second period. A menacing cross from the left flank landed at the feet of Owen Kinsella.

He was poised to shoot and potentially break the deadlock but at the 11th hour Conor O'Mahoney ghosted in with a slide tackle that averted the danger.

The only group to come out of this tie with much credit was the Greystones defensive unit.

Captain Stephen Metcalfe proved his worth on 63 minutes. Stapleton pumped a ball forward which seemed to have set Stephen Griffin free. But Metcalfe muscled his way into proceedings, calmly nudged Griffin off the ball and nodded the ball back to Hayden.

At the other end, Metcalfe almost became an unlikely hero as he was on the end of Paul Molloy's cross but the defender suffered a swing and a miss inside the Cobh penalty area.

Moments earlier, Molloy was on the end of a Tanner cutback but his flick didn't have sufficient power to direct it past 44-year old goalkeeper Michael Devine, the 2005 winner of the Soccer Writers Association of Ireland's Goalkeeper of the Year award.

Tanner's most telling contribution arrived in the 69th minute. For once, Adam Hayden was beaten and the ball was rolling in but with only milliseconds to spare, Tanner launched himself and managed to deflect it off the line.

United substitute Paul Molloy did brighten things up somewhat for Greystones but Cobh centre half Brian Fitzgerald was lapping up the repeated, aimless long balls that the home side aimed in his direction.

An overlapping run from United left-back Conor O'Mahoney saw his fizzed cross go all the way to Dempsey at the back post but he was not expecting it and only managed to scoop it over.

Greystones' Cup dreams were almost cruelly sent crashing down with two minutes of normal time remaining. The ball was lobbed into Stapleton's path and his dipping volley was searing under the crossbar until Hayden leapt backwards to tip it over.

Both sides live to fight another day and hopefully round two is a vast improvement.

Greystones United: 1. Adam Hayden; 2. Jack Tanner, 4. Stephen Metcalfe, 5. Andrew O'Brien, 3. Conor O'Mahoney; 7. Shane Evans, 8. Gareth McDonagh, 6. Ian Jordan, 11. David Crosbie; 9. Karl Manahan, 10. Gary Dempsey. Subs: Paul Molloy for Evans (58); Cormac Byrne for Crosbie (82); Barry O'Donnell for Manahan (90+1). Not used: Daniel Wood, Keith McDonnell, Jordan Murray, Ian Fowler.

Cobh Wanderers: 1. Michael Devine; 2. Eoin Hastings, 4. John Meade, 5. Brian Fitzgerald, 3. Peter Nolan; 7. Alan O'Flynn, 6. Owen Kinsella, 8. Michael O'Shea, 11. David Stack; 9. Ian Stapleton, 10. Stephen Griffin. Subs: Shane Geasley for Griffin (65). Not used: Eddie Nolan, James Stoat, Stephen Bruton, David Curran, Gary Collins, Shane Hallahan.

Venue: The Woodlands, Greystones.

Wicklow People

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