Dylan O’Connell reports from Turner’s Cross
Avondale United claimed the Beamish Stout Senior Cup on Saturday afternoon as they came out on top of a 120-minute seven-goal thriller at Turner’s Cross.
The FAI Intermediate Cup winners claimed their second cup of the season after an unmarked Jack Walsh’s poked in at the 120th minute of a classic encounter between two powerhouses of Cork football.
UCC led twice, through Simon Falvey and Daniel Pender, but Avondale responded through Josh O’Shea, Jack Walsh and Mark O’Sullivan before Walsh clinched it in extra time.
For both teams, this cup would have been a fitting end to landmark season. It was a chance at an elusive treble for the college, following their earlier Collingwood Cup and Munster Senior League successes.
For Avondale, it would mean a silver lining to a hugely mixed 2019 as, after Mark O’Sullivan clinched the Intermediate Cup at the Aviva Stadium, the Dale finished well off the pace in the league.
The underlying theme through all of this is experience. Stretched across the League of Ireland Premier and First Division, Avondale and UCC represented the past and future of league success.
Avondale are driven by O’Sullivan, the former Cork City, Waterford and Limerick striker with 38 goals to his name in the League of Ireland. Behind him was former Limerick and Shelbourne midfielder David O’Leary.
UCC represent the promise of tomorrow. Former Waterford underage talents Pender and Matthew McKevitt started, while Garan Manley and Cathal O’Hanlon, formerly of Cork City, also featured.
That contrast of youth and experience shone through from kick off, as UCC ran and dominated the play racing into a 2-0 lead after 15 minutes.
Simon Falvey was the driving force for this lighting start, first running onto a header from McKevitt to slip the ball past Daniel O’Leary in goal, before running on unmarked to a long ball from Dylan Scott and tapping in once more.
This was an energetic start from the college, but nothing overly unsettling for the experienced Avondale. O’Sullivan forced two excellent saves from O’Hanlon as his side slowly clicked into their game plan.
Minutes later, David O’Leary teed up Jack Walsh forcing another fine save from O’Hanlon as Avondale closed out the half on top.
Two goals in the early minutes of the second half brought the game back level. After James Sheehan tripped Danny O’Connell, O’Shea converted from the penalty spot to halve the deficit.
Less than two minutes later, Walsh rose highest inside the box to knock it into goal and the game was level at 2-2.
UCC scrambled, clearly spurned by Avondale’s resurgence, and from this Avondale had an excellent chance to go ahead.
Danny O’Connell’s header from a cross by Darragh O’Brien seemed to part the UCC defense, but a charging O’Sullivan was inches away from connecting and the ball bobbled out.
O’Sullivan, playing in the centre forward role, almost played Jack Walsh clear on goal, but the physical power of Rob Slevin helped the defender to clear the danger.
Against the tide of Avondale pressure, UCC went ahead five minutes from time. A quick break from Dylan Scott picked out Pender at the edge of the box, and he volleyed his side in front.
The lead was shortlived, as the poacher O’Sullivan slipped through the box from a free kick by Richard Tobin to tap it in and send the game to extra time.
The experiences of Avondale, from their cup adventures both locally and nationally, saw them transition easily into what could have been a challenging period.
Sticking to their plan, Avondale pressed the UCC backline and forced a succession of chances from the restart.
Walsh had a fine shot gathered by O’Hanlon along with James Sheehan deflecting an O’Sullivan volley out for a corner.
The breakthrough came in the dying moment, O’Sullivan bursting through the right wing and squaring for Walsh, who freed himself to shoot across the face of goal and make it 4-3.
Avondale United: Daniel O’Leary, Darragh O’Brien (Richard Tobin 68), Josh O’Shea, David Kelly, Steven Barrett (Mark Horgan 98), Eoghan Lougheed, David O’Leary (Brian Murphy 78), Hughie O’Donovan, Mark O’Sullivan, Jack Walsh, Danny O’Connell.
Booked: Daniel O’Leary (30).
UCC: Cathal O’Hanlon, Brian Mulcahy, Dylan Scott (Conor Fitzgerald 100), James Sheehan, Rob Slevin, Gordon Walker, Matthew McKevitt, Garan Manley, Simon Falvey, Daniel Pender, Owen Collins.
Booked: Garan Manley (57), James Sheehan (90).
Referee: Declan Fogarty.