DRUMKEEN UNITED head coach Marty Gormley heaped praise on his team for a spirited performance despite the FAI Intermediate Cup defeat to Verona FC on Sunday.
Drumkeen Utd 0
Verona FC (Dublin) 2
The result brought an end to Drumkeen’s hopes of qualifying for the last eight of the competition. And after Kildrum Tigers’ defeat in Cork earlier in the day, it brought an end to the Ulster Senior League’s participation in the competition for another year.
But Gormley was proud of his team’s performance and he felt they were unfortunate not to come through. “It was a disappointing result in the end but the lads played really, really well,” he said.
“I was so proud of them. They put in an unbelievable effort and taking into consideration our league finished in October and all we were doing in preparation was just a few games here and there, I thought the boys put in a fantastic effort on a mud bath of a pitch.
Despite the loss, Drumkeen can rightly be proud of what has been a memorable cup run. Getting to the 5th round is as far as they’ve ever managed in the FAI Intermediate Cup and next season, they can look forward to a first ever appearance in the FAI Senior Cup first round proper.
But when the dust has settled and they look back on Sunday’s game, they might well feel they could have got the better of Verona. On the day, there was little to separate these sides although crucially, the visitors proved more clinical in front of goal.
Drumkeen will point to the opportunities they created – particularly an excellent opening in the third minute which saw Peter McNamee sent clear on goal only for his effort to be well saved by Verona keeper, David Pender.
The home side played well throughout and in Richie Moore, they had a player who caused the Dublin side no end of problems. The striker put in magnificent performance and looked certain to fire his team in front shortly after the break only for a brilliant tackle from Verona defender, John O’Reilly.
Minutes later, Verona were celebrating the all important opener when on the hour, Shane O’Brien thundered home a wonderful effort past keeper, Paul McCauley.
Once they got their noses in front, the visitors quickly took control of the tie and they doubled their advantage seven minutes later when after Shaun Gallagher fouled O’Brien outside the area, David Colgan found the bottom corner direct from the free kick.
The same player had drawn a fine finger-tip save from McCauley as Verona finished the first half on top. Kenneth Clint also went close, shooting over the bar when played through.
McNamee, Ryan Gildea and Richie Moore had the best openings for Drumkeen in the incessant rain. Colgan’s brilliant free kick ultimately settled what was a decent tie which, despite the atrocious weather conditions, served up plenty of entertainment for the big crowd. Unfortunately for Drumkeen, they came up short, despite their best efforts. As Marty Gormley rightly pointed out after the game, his team’s chances weren’t helped by the fact that the Ulster Senior League is currently out of season and Verona are slap bang in the middle of their Leinster Senior League campaign. It’s an issue that has received much debate down through the years but Sunday’s result proved once again why those against summer football continue to fight their case.
Drumkeen United: Paul McCauley, Gavin Reilly (Raymond Sweeney 74), Benny Bonner, Shaun Gallagher, Ryan Gildea, Philip Whyte (Gary Patton 70), Christopher Kyle, Mark Marley, Richard Moore, Sean Ferry, Peter McNamee (Luke O’Farrell 62).
Verona FC: David Pender, John O’Reilly, Anthony Hayes, Daniel O’Connor, Ritchie Pender, Gavin Quinn, David Colgan, Shane O’Brien, Elmir Habibovic (Mark Hayes 52), Kenneth Clint (Ian Croft 84), Lee Cummins.
Referee: Donal McCafferty
Assistants: Stephen Toner, Con McLaughlin.
The heavy rainfall over the weekend meant this game was in doubt right up until kick-off. The groundstaff worked on St. Patrick’s Park from early on Sunday morning and that ensured the pitch was playable – although it was extremely soft and didn’t help the quality of the football. Still, it was great to see such a big crowd turn out to support Drumkeen who played well and were unlucky to lose out in the end.
Verona made a substitution five minutes into the second half when they brought Mark Hayes off the bench into centre midfield and moved Shane O’Brien into attack. The change quickly paid dividends, O’Brien produced a wonderful finish to give them the lead five minutes later.
Man of the match
Shane O’Brien just about shades the man of the match award, not just for his goal, but for his overall display. Physically strong, he got on the ball quite a bit in the first half when playing at centre midfield. He was then moved into attack shortly after the break and continued to impress. His goal was expertly taken – firing past Paul McCauley from a difficult angle.
For Drumkeen, there were good performances from the excellent Richie Moore, Gavin Reilly and Ryan Gildea at the back and Christopher Kyle in midfield.
Credit to Donal McCafferty, he gave a fine display on a day when the difficult conditions made it difficult for the players and also the match officials. There were several incidents when tackles were made to look a lot worse when players collided on the wet surface. But McCafferty used common sense when it was needed which was good to see. There was one unusual incident in the first half when assistant referee, Stephen Toner asked that a Verona supporter be removed from the sidelines after the spectator kicked a spare football towards Benny Bonner just as he was about to take a free kick. In fairness to the supporter, he moved away without any fuss – even if he was on the end of a fair bit of ribbing from the supporters gathered in the stand.