Skibbereen Community School 0 - 1 Rochestown College
Match Report by Sean Spenser
The final of the Cork Cup, a fantastic competition which was coming to the end with one game left between two brilliant teams. Skibbereen in particular have shocked everyone this season - a new school with a lot of their best players ineligible due to being in the year above. They had done fantastically well to get to the final and now the team that had beat them 5-0 in the semi-finals of the Munster Cup were the only team standing in their way from the first trophy in soccer in the schools history.
The Skibbereen coaches knew they had to change something to stop Rochestown from dominating the game like they did the last time these sides met. On the way to the game they decided to change the system from a 4-2-3-1 with two central midfielders to a 4-1-2-3 with 3 central midfielders, one slightly behind. They put Eoin Murran man marking Rochestown's deadly Matthew Murphy who dominated Skibbereen the last time they played. It was obvious that it was going to be a very tough game, both teams wanting to give their all and already angry at the fact that the final was not in Turner's Cross, but in Lyre.
Soon into the game it was very clear that both teams were up for it, very little quarter being given by either side. The defences of both sides were working in overdrive, both playing really well. It's hard to take risks with that much at stake and that eventually leads to a game where the defences have to be up for it and they were. Going into half time 0-0 was fair, with neither team having a chance or looking dangerous. Rochestown were on top, playing nice football with lots of possession, but they couldn't make it count in the final third. It looked like both teams would need to change something to get something out of the game. Skibbereen's attempt at changing the game came in the way of bringing Liam McCarthy on for Jack O'Brien and Matthew Mulcahy on for John Leahy.
Straight after the restart Skibbereen looked a lot more lively, with Liam McCarthy providing a fantastic threat down the left flank. He brought something that Skibbereen didn't already have on the pitch, an attacking outlet. Someone who they could launch the ball up to and they knew would hold onto it. That added with his pace meant that the Rochestown defence were struggling to stop him. He provided the only part of controversy in the game when he was running at Rochestown's Andrew O'Brien. Liam and Andrew were in a riveting physical battle in which Liam was on top. This was clearly frustrating Andrew, so as Liam was running at him he swung a wild boot at him. It narrowly missed, but had he connected it could have lead to a serious injury and he could have been very easily sent off for it, but the referee let him off with a warning. Skibbereen were piling on a lot more pressure than they had been in the first half, but it still wasn't enough. Neither team seemed able to break the deadlock. Going into stoppage time Skibbereen had all the momentum, but Rochestown got a corner. There was a wait of about 10 minutes while Rochestown's Ben O'Leary got some medical treatment. The gap had taken all the momentum and fizz out of the game.
As the corner was whipped in, Skibbereen needed to be switched on and they were. They headed it out of the box and pushed out. The ball was right back into Rochestown's possession straight away. The ball was back into the box and it resulted in another corner. Four corners later it seemed like time had to be up, however Rochestown had one final chance through the way of another corner. Matthew Murphy put it right on top of the keeper and there was a goalmouth scramble. Eventually the ball somehow found it's way into the back of the net. In the dying embers of the game, Skibbereen had gone behind. That had to be it, there was no time left to equalize. Rochestown had won it all in the last minute of the game. Skibbereen's dreams had been crushed in the worst possible way.
Understandably Skibbereen were very disappointed coming off the pitch, however they'd held a team that had beaten them 5-0 a mere 2 months later to 0-0 up until the last kick of the game. They gave a fantastic account of themselves, giving it their absolute all, remaining professional during and after the match, but it just wasn't to be. Rochestown had probably deserved to win the game to be fair to them. They had a little bit more of the ball and looked a bit more dangerous, but the manner in which they won is always going to leave a sour taste in the oppositions mouth.
Man of the Match: James McCarthy - A number of players had exceptional games for Skibbereen, the most notable not chosen being Eoin Murran, who marked Matthew Murphy the whole game and stopped him from being the threat he is. However, James McCarthy just about edged it. The tireless midfielder had an exceptional game, doing what he has done all year for Skibbereen, winning the ball back and covering ridiculous amounts of ground. This was his best performance in a Skibbereen shirt, but he's been the unsung hero all season doing so much work, going unnoticed. He won the ball back with ease, looked very comfortable in possession of the ball and was winning the physical duels in the middle of the park. Going forward he was always in the right position even if he didn't always get the ball or do anything exceptional. His hard work and brilliant performance was fantastic and he had an exceptional game.
Starting XI: Cormac McCarthy, Tomás O'Mahony, John Leahy, Robbie Minihane, Feilim O'Donovan, James McCarthy, Eoin Murran, Jamie O'Driscoll, Jack O'Brien, James O'Neill, Isaac Harte.
Substitutes: Liam McCarthy (Jack O' Brien), Matthew Mulcahy (John Leahy), Jason Nott (Isaac Harte), Jack O'Brien (Jamie O'Driscoll)
Thanks to Rochestown for giving us a brilliant game. You came down to Lyre and won the cup fair and square. You're a brilliant team who deservedly got to the final and you will be a huge threat next year. Your players showed great sportsmanship and were very kind in victory. Thanks again for coming down and we look forward to meeting you next season!