Hayes penalty bags Blues a final berth

Freebooters A 1

Freebooters A 1

Clover United A 0

FREEBOOTERS A stayed on course for a successful defence of the McCalmont Cup, but they were given a rough ride before making sure of their place in the final.

A John Hayes penalty proved to be the difference as the city side saw off the challenge of Clover United at Derdimus on Sunday. The Rathdowney men proved a tough opponent though, making life difficult for the Blues throughout the 90 minutes.

The breakthrough came on 21 minutes after Dessie Hayes was tugged back in the box by defender Willie Bowe.

Given the penalty duties John Hayes made no mistake, coolly drilling a low shot into the bottom right corner which was just too far for netminder Barry Bowe to reach.

Floodgates

However, the floodgates never fully opened for ’Booters after that. Instead it was Clover who upped their game, going close with some chances of their own. Enda Meagher saw a looping ball just clear Graham Doyle’s crossbar on 25 minutes before, six minutes later, Brian Bowe failed to make a clean connection when presented with a close range shot.

Freebooters kept looking for a second goal, and almost found it on 33 minutes. Derek Brennan was quickest to react when Paul O’Brien fizzed in a low corner, but the defender’s stabbed shot was cleared off the line by Ned Browne.

Brian Bowe had another crack at the target in the dying seconds of the opening half when he latched on to Willie Bowe’s quick throw-in, but the striker’s fizzing shot was well held by Doyle. Play quickly swung down the other end, as Freebooters almost bagged a second. The opening arrived when Dessie Hayes collided with keeper Bowe while contesting for James Kelly’s cross, but David Phelan did well to deny Damien Raggett a certain goal from the loose ball.

Freebooters upped their game in the second half and, with the introduction of Greg Morton, played with greater attacking enthusiasm.

Pushing forward, Raggett had another chance when he broke free on the right side of the box then curled a peach of a shot towards the far corner. The 56th minute effort beat goalkeeper Bowe, but the netminder was relieved to see the ball stay outside his right hand post.

Thick of things

The goalkeeper was back in the thick of things just 60 seconds later. A defensive mix-up gave Dessie Hayes the chance to let fly with stinging volley but Bowe made a super save, pulling off a strong right hand stop to keep the game at 1-0.

Clover United were still in the game at this stage, but couldn’t find the final touch needed to turn chances into goals. Bernard Geraghty snuck in to get on the end of a Willie Bowe free, but he lashed his 60th minute shot wide.

Brian Bowe went even closer, and seemed certain to draw Clover level when he met David Phelan’s 72nd minute cross with a menacing scissors-kick. The close range shot was destined for the inside of the left post, but somehow Graham Doyle reacted in time to make a fine stop.

The final chance of merit went the way of the winners, but they couldn’t add to their lead after William Flood’s waltzing run was cut short by Paddy Murphy’s foul on 80 minutes. Dessie Hayes went for goal, and almost found it with a low shot that curled round the Clover wall, but Barry Bowe did well to get his hands behind the ball before clawing it away from the bottom corner of the net.

Freebooters A: Graham Doyle, Ger Hayes (William Flood, 73 mins), James Kelly, Michael Falsey, Derek Brennan, John Hayes, Eamon Lyster, Eddie Clifford, Dessie Hayes, Damien Raggett (Eoin Kavanagh, 87 mins), Paul O’Brien (Greg Morton, 53 mins).

Clover United A: Barry Bowe, Willie Bowe, David Phelan, Brian Madden (Damien Bowe, 78 mins), Lee Kinsella, Paddy Murphy, Ned Browne (Danny Campion, 87 mins), Enda Meagher, Brian Bowe, Sean Mullins (Vinny Cleere, 34 mins), Bernard Geraghty.

Referee: Eugene Coyne. Linesmen: Tristan Eardley, Pat Conroy.