Pike Rovers proved too strong for Cork’s Everton AFC at a rain-lashed Moneygourney on Sunday afternoon as goals from Patrick Moloney, Gavin O’Shea and John Tierney sent them through to the second round of the Ford FAI Cup.
With the Everton pitch deemed waterlogged shortly before kick-off the game was hastily re-arranged for Douglas Hall’s all-weather facility at Moneygourney and conditions were far from ideal as both teams battled against driving rain and a swirling wind.
Everton were the first to carve out an opening when, with six minutes played, Craig Hore stole possession before playing in Craig Duggan, But the midfielder was expertly closed down by Pike goalkeeper John Ryan and just two minutes later the Limerick side took the lead.
Everton full back Gordon O’Sullivan was penalised for a foul on Patrick Moloney 25 yards from goal and John Tierney curled the free kick low around the wall. Everton ‘keeper Dean Winters got to the ball but spilled it, allowing Moloney to take advantage and shoot home from close range.
Everton fought hard to get back on level terms and striker Craig Hore forced Ryan in to a smart save on 11 minutes before shooting narrowly over following a corner three minutes later. Midfielder David Daly was next to try his luck on 21 minutes when his 20 yard free went left and wide of the Pike goal.
But two minutes later another free, this time taken by right back O’Sullivan, paid dividends. O‘Sullivans lofted ball into the box wasn’t dealt with by the Pike defence and the ball bounced up for Craig Hore to volley past Ryan for a deserved equaliser.
Everton then suffered a blow when Daly, through whom much of their play had been channeled, was forced off with an injury and was replaced in the middle of the park by Laurence Fitzpatrick. Seven minutes after entering the fray Fitzpatrick nearly put Everton ahead when his free clattered off the near post before rebounding to safety.
One minute later, and having come so close to being ahead, Everton found themselves a goal down. John Tierney played in full back Gavin O’Shea who beat a defender before shooting low across Winters to find the far bottom corner of the net.
The second half was dominated by Pike Rovers with Patrick Moloney and Thomas Heffernan causing all manner of problems for the Everton defence. Heffernan came close to extending Pike’s lead just two minutes after the re-start but was foiled six yards out by Aidan O’Connell.
Then, on 55 minutes, clever play by Moloney played Eoin Hanrahan in along the byline. He jinked his way into a shooting position only to be denied by the feet of goalkeeper Winters. One minute later and Winters was in action again, this time palming Tierney’s free kick away from the top left corner of his goal.
Realising they needed to change the shape of the game Everton sent Eric Fleming on for Shane Spitere and switched to a 3-5-2 formation. Two minutes later O’Sullivan fed Fleming inside the Pike box but his shot on the turn was well saved by Ryan.
With twenty minutes left on the clock Eoin Hanrahan might have wrapped things up for Pike when he dribbled across the edge of the Everton area before shooting over the bar but Tierney made sure two minutes later when he took a pass from Moloney and shot low past Winters from the edge of the box.
Everton continued to battle but they lacked the penetration to trouble Pike’s defence. In fact, the Limerick side were able to send on Alan Barry and David Ryan, seasoned campaigners who were able to consolidate Pike’s grip on the game.
With two minutes remaining Pike almost added to Everton’s misery when Dave Ryan played an astute pass through for Thomas Heffernan but, having weaved his way through two challenges, he blazed over the home crossbar.
When the final whistle sounded it ended a difficult afternoon for both teams but Pike Rovers were deserved winners and they now go into the draw for the second round and a chance to face one of the League of Ireland’s big hitters.
Everton AFC: Dean Winters; Gordon O’Sullivan, Shaun Sweeney, Paul McGrath, Aidan O’Connell; Kelvin Connolly (Jason Ring 76), David Daly (Laurence Fitzpatrick 35), Don Horan, Craig Duggan, Shane Spitere (Eric Fleming 65); Craig Hore.
Subs not used: Cain O’Mahony, Dylan O’Sullivan.
Pike Rovers: John Ryan; Gavin O’Shea, Colm Enright, Conor Maloney (Jason Heffernan 65), Edward O’Donovan; Thomas Heffernan, John Tierney, Keith Hartnett, Eoin Hanrahan (Alan Barry 74); Patrick Moloney (David Ryan 76), Paul Doona.
Subs not used: Gary Neville.
Referee: Aiden O’Regan.
Attendance: 30 (estimate)
Extratime Man of the Match: Patrick Moloney (Pike Rovers).