Orchard Rovers 4
ORCHARD Rovers have had plenty of mixed emotions in their first year in the Kilkenny & District League. However, Sunday may just have provided them with their best memory of the campaign.
Since making the move from the Floodlit League the city team have endured some teething problems adjusting to life on grass. Bad memories were left in the past on Sunday though, as they glided past Gowran and made their first start in the McCalmont Cup a winning one.
The visitors were keen to make a fast start and quickly made their presence felt. Following an excellent tackle out on the right from Darren Rowe Alan Dowling fired in a third minute cross aimed at Harry Cooke, but David O’Brien made a telling challenge.
It was through midfield that Orchard took the lead midway through the half. Following a foul in the middle third Tommy Tyrrell floated in a free which sailed over the Gowran wall, evading the grasp of netminder Niall Kennedy.
Rovers had the wind in their sails by now and began to press for a second goal. By the half hour mark they had their reward, after Terry James was taken down in the box by netminder Kennedy.
It looked like Gowran had survived when Kennedy got down well to stop James’s spot-kick, but the hosts failed to react to the loose ball. Harry Cooke was quick to keep the ball in play, firing in a cross which was headed home by Alan Dowling.
Gowran were stunned by that swift double, but try as they might they couldn’t get back into the game. Brian Whelan whipped in a 39th minute free from the left wing which was begging for a final touch as it zipped towards the back post, but none of his team-mates were there to capitalise.
The hosts came into the game in the second half, but although they pushed hard they found clearcut chances were few and far between. Cathal Power tried his luck with a 67th minute free but saw his effort blocked by Dean Carroll, while Willie Cronin’s 74th minute snapshot whistled wide of the target.
Back on assault
Orchard had taken their foot off the gas in the second half, but went back on the assault as the game ticked into the last 10 minutes. Terry James put them back on the front foot when he flicked a long kick-out on for Harry Cooke to chase.
The midfielder sped down the right, cutting into the box, but although he seemed certain to score Niall Kennedy stayed big long enough to make a good stop at his near post.
That miss mattered little, as within 60 seconds Rovers had their insurance goal. Darren Rowe provided the opening, threading a great ball through from midfield which cut Gowran open. The ball popped up in front of Terry James, who hammered an unstoppable shot to the net.
There was some consolation for Gowran, as M.J. Kelly found the back of the net. The sub gave his side something to cheer when he rose highest to connect with Cathal Power’s corner and finally beat Peter Sheperd.
That goal couldn’t take the shine off Orchard’s performance though, as they restored their three-goal cushion with two minutes left. Harry Cooke, who had been denied by a super save from Kennedy on 82 minutes, finally got his reward when he beat the offside trap, ending a quick one-two with Tommy Tyrrell before finding the net.
Gowran: Niall Kennedy, Liam Comerford, Liam Kennedy (M.J. Kelly, 56 mins), Mark Kirk, Brian Whelan, David O’Brien, Paddy Kennedy, Vinny Horgan, Cathal Power, Daryl Nolan, Willie Cronin.
Orchard Rovers: Peter Sheperd, Shane O’Neill, Niall Murphy, Dean Carroll, Colm Lyons, Harry Cooke, Darren Rowe, Tommy Tyrrell, Willie Dowling (Toy Cinah, 46 mins), Terry James, Alan Dowling.
Referee: Patrick O’Connor.