Goals from Matt Whelan and Stephen Christopher earned Cobh Ramblers a thoroughly deserved 2-0 win over Cabinteely at St Colman’s Park on Friday night.
Having been on the end of a heavy 4-1 defeat the last time they met Cabinteely, Cobh manager Stephen Henderson will be delighted to not only have gained some measure of revenge via the scoreline, but also to have seen his players put in the kind of performance worthy of a side with aspirations to win the First Division.
Mind you, the evening didn’t start out in Cobh’s favour with Pat Devlin’s Cabinteely bossing the opening ten minutes and when Ramblers opened the scoring after 12 minutes the goal came against the run of play.
Jack Watson had missed a great chance for the visitors after just two minutes and Jason Byrne had looped a header just over Paul Hunt’s bar, as well as testing the Cobh keeper with a well-taken free by the time ten minutes had passed.
Then Jason Abbott stepped in with a beautifully judged ball over the top that sent Matthew Whelan racing through on goal. He took a touch and then placed the ball wide of Michael Kelly to give his side an unexpected lead.
From that point on Henderson’s young team took absolute control of the tie. Cian Coleman, replacing the suspended Chris McCarthy, was as solid as you like in midfield, breaking up Cabinteely’s play and generally making a nuisance of himself.
Abbott and Craig Donnellan completed a central midfield that worked tirelessly and worked the ball forwards whenever the opportunity arose.
Also impressive were Cobh’s centre-back pairing of Ben O’Riordan and James McSweeney, who dealt capably with the dual threat of Jason Byrne’s experience and physicality, and Kieran Marty Waters’ more waspish qualities.
Further chances fell to McNamara who blasted over on 20 minutes and Abbott, who forced Kelly into a fine save three minutes later. Then, on the half hour, Coleman headed Abbott’s free just wide of the goal.
Cabinteely, who found their early rhythm sabotaged by the discipline and work rate of their hosts, struggled to get back into the game and when they did threaten the Cobh goal they could not get the better of a well drilled back four and a goalkeeper, Paul Hunt, who was in control of every situation thrown at him.
The second half produced more of the same and twelve minutes after the restart Cobh doubled their lead. A promising Cobh move had just been broken up when Abbott regained possession with a strong challenge.
He then played an inside ball to Whelan who, rather than shooting, swept the ball right to the inrushing Stephen Christopher. The winger finished with a composure that typified his team’s overall performance and effectively ended the contest.
It wasn’t until the introduction of Joe Doyle with eighteen minutes remaining that Cabinteely put together any meaningful attacks. Within seconds of arriving on the pitch he sent in a dangerous cross that was almost met by Jason Byrne, James McSweeney just about getting in front of the veteran striker.
With eight minutes left Waters somehow failed to force the ball beyond Hunt from close range and substitute Cory Galvin powered a shot into Hunt’s midriff two minutes after that, but Cobh remained the dominant force and saw out the game to claim a win that puts nine points between the teams.
With games against UCD and Waterford coming up Cobh’s title credentials will shortly be tested but this controlled and confident display augurs well for Henderson and his team.
Cobh Ramblers: Paul Hunt; Charlie Fleming, Ben O’Riordan, James McSweeney, Kyle McNamara; Stephen Christopher (Shane Lowth 85), Cian Coleman, Jason Abbott, raig Donnellan, Ian Mylod; Matthew Whelan (Dean Swords 85).
Subs Not Used: Adam Mylod (gk).
Cabinteely: Michael Kelly; Adam Harney (Joe Doyle 72), Conor Keeley, Mark Hanlon, Kevin Knight; Jack Watson, Christian Lotefa (Karl Byrne 76), Daire Doyle, Evan Galvin (Cory Galvin 60); Kieran Marty Waters; Jason Byrne.
Subs Not Used: Jack Menton (gk), Sean Fitzpatrick, Paul Fox, Anthony Dolan.
Booked: Doyle (29)
Referee: Pat Gleeson.
Attendance: 250 (estimate).
Extratime Player of the Match: Jason Abbott (Cobh Ramblers).