IT DIDN’T GO TO penalties, but a spot kick helped decide the destination of the Division Three Cupin which Bridge United B beat St Ann’s 2-1, writes Trevor Spillane.
Bridge United B grabbed the title when Shane Murphy steered home a second half penalty to leave the Goresbridge men with a season-ending cup at Derdimus.
Already a goal up from the first half, United doubled their lead when Ian O’Neill was felled in the box by St Ann’s defender Shane Gorman while chasing a long ball. Shane Murphy stepped to take the kick and directed it low past ’keeper Chris Hughes, who got his hand to the ball but couldn’t stop it from finding the corner of his net.
In a strange first half Bridge did plenty of pressing, but it was St Ann’s who created more attacking options. The Tipperary side, back in the league after a long absence, did well to push forward but couldn’t find the final ball to threaten United.
The lack of a final push came back to haunt the Saints, as Bridge pounced for the opening goal on 18 minutes. Shane Murphy rowed back to help out an under-pressure defence, launching a long ball clear out of his own half.
The bounce caught St Ann’s light at the back - and napping. Ian O’Neill controlled the delivery and left his marker for dead, pausing only to take a steadying touch before lashing the ball past Hughes from the edge of the box.
The Bridge boys were on a high after that goal and almost grabbed another within 60 seconds. Paul Kennedy and Michael Hutchinson teamed up on the left with some good passes, Hutchinson eventually finding room in the corner to whip in a low cross.
The alarm bells rang in the Ann’s box as Shane Murphy sped towards the back post, but he was a fraction too late to connect with the delivery.
St Ann’s tried to rally, but although they went close they couldn’t find that scoring touch. Stephen Neary had their best opportunity of the half when Martin Phelan picked him out with a low cross from the right, but the striker couldn’t get the ball from under his feet in time to get a clean shot away.
The game went from bad to worse for the Saints, as Shane Murphy - who had a ‘goal’ ruled out for offside 60 seconds before the end of the first half - doubled Bridge’s lead from the spot six minutes after the restart.
Bridge were spurred on by that second goal and pushed on for another to kill the game off. Jason Freeman went close when he kept his eye on Kevin Curran’s crossfield pass, but his 59th minute half-volley flashed wide of the mark.
United went close again 19 minutes from time when Keith Glynn sent a telling diagonal ball over the head of netminder Hughes, but the ball was just too far for sub Jason Holden to latch onto.
St Ann’s threw caution to the wind in the final quarter, pouring forward in an effort to get back into the game. They gave Bridge ’keeper Matt Curran a moment’s panic when he called for Shane Webster’s cross but failed to collect it. Stephen Neary went in for the tussle, but couldn’t keep his effort on target.
St Ann’s kept fighting and grabbed a deserved lifeline with 12 minutes to play when Neary pounced to stab home after Curran spilled a Florri Pondar header.
That was the signal for the Gortnahoe side to pile on the pressure and go for broke but Bridge held firm, showing enough composure to see out the rest of the game as they wrapped up the title.
Bridge United B: Matthew Curran, Michael Barcoe, Darren Dalton, Kevin Curran, Michael Hutchinson, Jason Freeman, James Dempsey, Keith Glynn, Paul Kennedy (Jason Holden, 60 mins), Ian O’Neill (Jason Bolger, 70 mins), Shane Murphy.
St Ann’s: Chris Hughes, Martin Barnaville, Mark Phelan, Shane Gorman, Shane Webster, John Broderick, Florri Pondar, Danny Walsh (Tom Webster, 57 mins), Stephen Neary, Martin Phelan (Richie Corbett, 64 mins), James Cahill (Michael Webster, 46 mins).
Referee: Eamon Holohan. Linesman: Pat Conroy, James Dunne.