20th March 2017

Skibbereen Community School 3 - 2 Rockwell College

Report by Sean Spenser

The 5th round of the Munster Cup. The First years are soon becoming the pride of the school with a county final in basketball, getting to the furthest rounds in soccer - and still going - along with I'm sure more achievements in other sports. Their newest challenge was Rockwell College, from Tipperary. A sunny day had left the pitch as hard as a rock, meaning you really had to watch the bounce of the ball. However a bit of wind against Skibbereen in the first half could be a telling factor in the game. Five minutes into the game Liam McCarthy turned his man inside the box. He had left his marker for dead and picked his head up for the pass as he was taken out from his heels. The referee waved play on and it looked like it could be another game where Skibbereen were on the end of some bad refereeing decisions.

In the 7th minute Isaac Harte won a soft free-kick thirty or so yards out. Captain Robbie Minihane decided he wanted to try his luck. He took a shot on goal, but as soon as he connected it was seen to be fairly tame. It was about waist high with no real venom, an easy catch for the keeper, however he decided to volley it. His pass was sub-par to say the least and it fell to the onrushing Isaac Harte who had followed the ball in allowing him to finish into the nearly open net. 1-0 up due to a very dominant first few minutes from Skibbereen. Four minutes later a long ball from the Rockwell keeper landed half way in Skibbereen's half, exposing the high line, which allowed Rockwell's number 9 to run through and lob Cormac McCarthy, who had been left in an awkward position with nothing to do. Soon after Skibbereen had a corner. The ball was easily caught by the keeper. He again launched a long ball over the Skibbereen defence, exposing the high line again. This pass was just as dangerous and the number 9 ran through and unluckily hit the post. The ball fell to Cormac McCarthy who made sure there would be no rebound.

Going into half time a 1-1 scoreline was unjust. Other than the first 10 or so dominant minutes, it was a very backs to the wall performance from Skibbereen, were they had struggled to get out of their own half against the wind. The moods going in at half time were very positive from Rockwell, however it's all well and good being on top, but if you don't score, it doesn't matter. One minute after half time a cross from Rockwell wasn't dealt with and it allowed the Rockwell attacker to finish past Cormac McCarthy in goal. That's what happens when you switch off even for the smallest bit of time in soccer! Five minutes later a lay off allowed James O'Neill to shoot first time from 30 yards out. It was heading right for the top corner only for the keeper to make one of the best saves you'll ever see in a soccer match! After that moment it looked like Skibbereen had lost all hope. One of their best chances stopped by an unbelievable save.

In the 47th minute Liam McCarthy stormed through on goal. He took a shot which just hit the post. It fell to Jamie O' Driscoll who hit the post again. Donnachadh Maguire just about kept the ball alive, squaring it to Liam. Liam's shot again hit the post! Just as it looked like the chance had been squandered, the ball found it's way off the post into the other side of the goal. If that ball had not gone in, it would have put the nail in the coffin for Skibbereen, however it looked to have injected some extra life into Skibbereen. Ten minutes later, with three minutes to go the ball fell to Isaac Harte on the edge of the box. He set himself up perfectly with a fantastic chest of the ball, allowing him to volley it towards the top corner. However the goalkeeper heard what I said about his last save and decided to top it! Just as it was about to crack into the net he pulled out a ridiculous diving save plucking it out of the top corner!

Thirty seconds from the final whistle Skibbereen had a corner. They had to weigh up the pros and cons of sending up their defenders as with this little time to go they could lose it all. James O'Neill whipped in a fantastic cross right into the danger area. The only man to react was Liam McCarthy. He ran to meet the ball with a great header into the back of the net! It looked like Skibbereen had won it with no time to go! All they had to do was hold on for another minute or so! The last 30 seconds seemed to last an age as Rockwell threw everything they had at Skibbereen. The final whistle blew at 3-2 meaning Skibbereen were through to the next round! Some of the Rockwell players collapsed on the floor and rightly so. They'd player their hearts out on the pitch and given it their all. To lose it at the final whistle must have been devastating. It was a fantastic end to a fantastic game of Soccer!

Man of the Match: Liam McCarthy - On a day where both teams were playing cautiously, not allowing the attacking players too much time, the winger provided a few moments of magic in the first half, nearly winning a penalty right from the off mixed with a fantastic run down the flank taking out three players. His main feat however was grabbing the game by the scruff of the neck. At 2-1 down Skibbereen looked dead and buried. However Liam's goal injected life into the whole team. Then at the end when I'm sure most the players were thinking about extra time his focus was on winning the game in normal time. A great individual performance which proved to be the telling factor especially when both teams put up such a good fight. 

Starting XI: Cormac McCarthy, Feilim O'Donovan, John Leahy, Robbie Minihane, Tomás O'Mahony, James McCarthy, James O'Neill, Jamie O'Driscoll, Liam McCarthy, Isaac Harte, Donnachadh Maguire.

Substitutes: Eoin Murran (John Leahy), Jack O' Brien (Donnachadh Maguire), Stevie Redmond (Jamie O'Driscoll).

A big thank you to Rockwell College who travelled all the way down from Tipperary to put up a great fight. The game really could have gone either way and you are a great team with potential to achieve your goals in other competitions!