Thrilling Draw at Gortakeegan between the “Partners” and the “Candystripes”.
The Monaghan United / Cavan Football Partnership under 17 SSE Airtricity side entertained their counterparts from Derry City FC on Saturday afternoon in a sun drenched Gortakeegan in Monaghan. The home team were on a revenge mission after suffering their heaviest defeat of the season away to Saturday’s visitors earlier in the campaign but it was the “Candystripes” were the first out of the blocks as they took the game to the “Partners”. Luke Perkins had to be very alert in the opening exchanges as he had to make a smart save to deny Shane McNamee the opening goal after 7 minutes and he needed the assistance of Cameron Dowd 4 minutes later when Aaron McColgan and Sean McBride combined to create an opening. The visitors should have opened the scoring after 16 minutes when McBride broke free but his drilled cross eluded everybody and drifted behind Perkins goal. McNamee was on hand again in the 21st minute as Derry threatened to convert their early dominance into goals. The tricky midfielder picked out Conor O’Donnell at the far post but the striker couldn’t keep his volley on target. Perkins was the hero again 3 minutes later when he denied McBride with a flying save after the Derry player had been put clear by Euan Tweed. It was until the 27th minute that the “Partners” managed to test Tiernan Hargan in the Derry goals when Dean Connolly let fly from 25 yards but the keeper was always behind his effort. McColgan’s shot in the 28th minute was always rising from the moment it left his boot. It wasn’t until the 35th minute that the “Partners” were able to sustain any period of possession and this nearly lead to them opening the scoring all be it against the run of play. Jordan Corraway picked up a throw-in from Cianan Kelly and delivered a tremendous ball into the heart of the Derry penalty area where Dylan McMullan rose high to challenge Hargan who could only palm the ball into Karl Cosgrove’s path but his first-time goal bound effort was pushed behind by a fully stretched Hargan. Cosgrove flashed a wicked cross deep into the Derry penalty box where Ify Nzewi’s low drive came back of the upright and the clearance only reached
Adam O’Connor who controlled before smashing a half volley just over the crossbar. The resulting kick-out was picked up by Nzewi who drove at the Derry defence before seeing his low drive finger-tipped behind by Hargan. Cosgrove’s cross was headed just wide by Jerome Abekamwale to bring the half to a close.
Half-time Monaghan United / Cavan FP 0 Derry City FC 0.
Derry again started the 2nd half on the front foot but it was the “Partners” who could have drawn first blood after 50 minutes when Cosgrove and McMullan combined before the latter’s cross was headed just over by Nzewi. McBride and McColgan were proving to be a handful for the home defence and they combined well in the 57th minute but McColgan could only drag his shot wide of Perkins goal but he was on target within a minute when substitute Dylan Devine picked him out just outside the “Partners” area and he used O’Connor’s body to swerve a delightful shot beyond the reach of Perkins and open the scoring for the “Candystripes”. The Monaghan United / Cavan FP side nearly responded within a minute McMullan and Corraway linked up but McMullan’s sweetly struck volley was blocked on its way to goal. Devine flashed a shot just wide of Perkins post after 63 minutes. The introduction of Lorcan Murnaghan and Shane Duffy for Corraway and Kelly respectively, had an immediate effect after Cosgrove’s cross from a free-kick was flicked on spectacularly by O’Connor and Murnaghan controlled instantly before coolly opening his account for the Club.
Derry came at the home team strongly after that and Luke Donohoe had to be alert at the back post to head behind for a corner under pressure from Tweed but from the delivery the ball was only partly cleared to the edge of the area where Rhys McDermott steered his controlled drive passed the helpless Perkins to give the visitors the lead again. The game took a bizarre twist in the 79th minute when Hargan was adjudged to have held onto the ball for too long with the Referee awarding the “Partners” an indirect free-kick just inside the Derry City area. Although Cosgrove’s initial effort was blocked the Derry wall had moved too early so the free-kick had to be retaken. This time Cosgrove rolled the ball to his side where O’Connor’s well placed low drive found the bottom corner of the net. The “Partners” had the best opportunity to take all 3 points on offer after Donohoe had found Cosgrove with a clever ball and his defence splitting pass was nearly perfect for the newly introduced Callum Ross-Lynch but Hargan was out sharply to clear the danger.
Full Time Monaghan United / Cavan FP 2 Derry City FC 2.
Team Luke Perkins, Jordan Corraway, Karl Cosgrove, Luke Donohoe, Cameron Dowd, Adam O’Connor, Cianan Kelly, Dean Connolly, Dylan McMullan, Jerome Abekamwale and Ify Nzewi.
Substitutes Used: Lorcan Murnaghan for Kelly 64 minutes, Shane Duffy for Corraway 64 minutes, Callum Ross- Lynch for McMullan 74 minutes and Aaron Reilly for Nzewi 81 minutes.
Unused Substitutes: Lewis Gibson, Luke Molloy and Daniel Murdock.
A Special thanks goes out to the members of the CMUL Under 13’s squad who acted as Mascots and Ball boys on the day after their magnificent Shield victory at the recent Galway Cup tournament.