Dylan O'Connell reports from St. Coleman's Park
In conditions that would test the most hardened of players, ten man Cobh Ramblers beat Athlone Town 3-2 in a First Division classic at St. Coleman's Park on Saturday evening.
After losing away to UCD last week in what was the final kick of the game, Stuart Ashton’s side grabbed the winner in dramatic fashion when a shot by Ian Tuner deflected in with ten minutes remaining.
This followed an erratic 90 minutes which was a testament to the teams who played out the game in harrowing conditions on such a wet night in East Cork.
Cobh took the lead after 20 minutes when Bryan Murphy knocked in a corner from Lee Devitt. The home side doubled their lead five minutes later when David Hurley cut inside from outside the area, and shot low into the right corner of the goal, well out of the reach of Aaron Myles.
This two goal cushion did nothing to deter Athlone though, who stuck to Adrian Carberry’s game plan. With captain Darren Meenan and Joel Coustrain probing out wide and pushing them forward, Athlone slowly grew into the game with a solid period of possession.
The Midlanders were awarded a penalty after a handball from the Cobh defence, which Meenan powered in passed Paul Hunt.
Fifteen minutes later, Athlone had another penalty, when John Mangan was brought down inside the area, and Meenan once again converted, this time to level the score.
What should have happened in the second half was a swing in momentum in favour of the visitors. Instead, Ramblers dug in with a youthful sense of adventure and from the restart forced a number of chances through Kevin Taylor and Ben O’Riordan, but each time Myles was on hand to save.
Turner had an excellent chance to put Cobh back in front, when the winger was fed through on goal by Murphy, but the former Cork City man’s shot was saved by Myles.
As the second half wore on, Cobh began to dominate the game and continued to to produce chances. A corner ball from Devitt had to be tipped over by Myles, before a header from Turner was calmly caught by the goalkeeper.
A cross from Dylan Walsh almost was knocked on by Murphy to face goal, but a clamouring Athlone defence managed to clear before Devitt could get a foot to it.
With Cobh controlling the game, it looked as if momentum might finally swing the way of the Athlone when Dylan Walsh was sent off for a two footed challenge on John Morgan.
This only served to inspire the Ramblers though who went ahead five minutes later when a long shot from Turner was deflected in.
Athlone tried to get back into the game in the remaining moments. While they did not show much of an attacking edge in the second half, they did put the pressure on the Ramblers late on, Coustrain running the show out wide but he failed to really to get through the discipline of Taylor and O’Riordan.
Cobh Ramblers: Paul Hunt; Dylan Walsh, Charlie Lyons, Ben O’Riordan, Kevin Taylor; Pierce Phillips, David Hurley; Ian Turner, Martin Coughlan (Darryl Walsh 76), Lee Devitt; Bryan Murphy (Cameron Harlson 71).
Subs not used: Stephen O’Leary, Cian Leonard, Gavin Ryan, Adam Foley, Stephen O’Connor.
Sent off: Dylan Walsh (68)
Athlone Town: Aaron Myles; Evan White, Scott Delaney, Oisin O’Reilly, John Morgan; Harry Cornally (Joshua Keane Quinlivan), David Brookes; Joel Coustrain, Ronan Manning, Darren Meenan (Jordan Carr 78); Adam Lennon (Dean George 89).
Subs not used: Jordan Carroll, Toulon Tloy, Dean George, Evan O’Connor, Daray Lawless.
Referee: Mark Moynihan