EVERGREEN A kept their grip on the Maher Shield, but only after passing a solid test from Newpark, winning 4-2, writes Trevor Spillane.
While the scoreline will show the champions won with a two-goal cushion on Sunday morning, the result was anything but comfortable. Behind twice, it took a rapid step-up in pace from Eddie McEvoy’s side in the final quarter of the game to make sure of their place in the next round.
Vinny O’Brien had a game to remember. He scored the own goal that saw his side fall behind, then grabbed a goal that pushed Evergreen clear with five minutes left to play. The goal that all but booked their place in the second round was well-taken, O’Brien racing on to Niall Andrews’ flick-on and coolly cushioning his first-time shot into the far side of Bobby Maher’s net.
McCalmont and Division One Cup finalists last year, Newpark opened with a swagger and without a trace of fear against their city rivals. The confidence was well founded, as within eight minutes they were in front. Hesitation at the back allowed Mark Flynn to muscle his way past Jack Poyntz and round Dargan before squeezing his shot home from the tightest of angles.
Impose on game
It took Evergreen some time to impose themselves on the game, but by the 23rd minute they were level. Niall Andrews and Poyntz did well to win a midfield battle and work the ball out to Chris Whearty on the right. He pulled a low ball across the box, which was cleverly stepped over by Dylan Whearty, before David Grincell tucked it away inside Bobby Maher’s left post.
The visitors tried hard, but couldn’t grab a lead goal before the break. Chris Whearty went close with a teasing 29th minute free which Maher had to finger-tip over the bar. Several minutes later another swift attack ended with O’Brien peeling off the last defender, but his shot was straight at Maher.
Newpark bounced back quickly in the second half, going close with a strong move through their attack. Sean Falsey seized on a loose ball in midfield, feeding Mark Flynn down the left wing. His quick cross fell to Henry O’Neill but he slipped as he connected with the ball, sending his shot squirming wide.
Parity was broken again when O’Brien found the net at the wrong end on 66 minutes. The young winger gave Newpark the lead again when he headed a John Hayes free past his own netminder Pierce Dargan.
However, that goal proved to be the kick in the backside Evergreen needed as they set about raising the tempo. Laying siege to the Newpark goal in the 75th minute helped make the breakthrough, albeit via the penalty spot after Mark Flynn fouled Robbie Quan with a nudge in the back. Chris Whearty took the pressure kick and made it look effortless, sending Bobby Maher the wrong way.
Ten minutes later O’Brien atoned for his own goal, cutting in from the right to lash that quick shot past Bobby Maher.
That strike took the wind out of Newpark’s sails. Try as they might, they couldn’t a way past Evergreen, who introduced Karl Keogh to the fray as they reshuffled their pack and shored up at the back.
The final nail in the Newpark coffin came in time added on, as Jamie Owens pounced on a quick kick-out and rolled the ball across the goalmouth for Chris Whearty to add a simple finish.
Newpark: Bobby Maher, Tommy Comerford, Gerry O’Brien (Sammy Johnson, 46 mins), Ger Wall, Ray Meagher, John Dumecz (Stephen Dawson, 90 mins), John Hayes, Dean Woods, Mark Flynn, Henry O’Neill, Sean Falsey.
Evergreen A: Pierce Dargan, Jack Poyntz, Oisin Corr, Matthew Wong, Robbie Quan, Niall Andrews, Vinny O’Brien, David Grincell, Dylan Whearty (Karl Keogh, 63 mins), Jamie Owens, Chris Whearty.
Referee: Eoin Walsh. Linesmen: Mitch Corrigan, Tristan Eardley.