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Davin O’ Neill strikes again to secure Pop Keller Cup victory




Pop Keller Cup Winners Cobh Wanderers – Photo: Mike Bardsley

Cobh Wanderers 1-0 Ballinhassig

ALL jokes aside; it was a smashing day for the Wanderers with a first senior cup final win in many years. A first half strike from Davin O’ Neill was enough to ensure the addition of the Pop Keller cup to the League 2 title this season. Wanderers were by far the better team on the day but failed to make their superiority tell on the score sheet and this led to a very nervy second half before securing the cup. Wanderers let their intensions be known early in the game when Meade crossed from the right to the head of Nolan but his effort was weak and easily saved. A super move, starting with Fitzgerald and on through Nolan to Davin who chipped to Meade, ended with Meade volleying wide. There was very little from Ballinhassig in this first quarter. On 22 Hastings put the ball over the top to pick out Meade who settled himself well but shot narrowly wide of the near post. This did lead to Ballinhassigs first chance of the game, as they broke quickly and their striker cut inside Fitzy but pulled his left foot effort harmlessly wide from only five yards out.

Wanderers took the lead on 27 minutes when they worked the ball up the right and Stapleton found O’ Neill in the box. Davin was pulled back but he stayed on his feet and hit a drive which the keeper could only ease into the far top corner. Wanderers had a chance to double the lead on 31 minutes when a long ball over the top found Davin out wide and he flicked on to Nolan. Nolan slipped the defender on the by-line and chip crossed to Stapleton but his volley into the ground flew well wide of the target. A top class move on 36 minutes saw Davin back heel to Geasley who played a one, two with Chubbs but Geasley crossed when a shot looked a better option and the opportunity was lost. Ballinhassig gained in confidence up to half time and had a good spell only to be denied by a series of clearances from Dave Stack. On the stroke of half time Bruton had to clear off the line to maintain the lead into the break.

Geasley had a great opportunity to double the lead in the first minute of the second half. He was very unlucky to see his side-foot effort just shave the outside of the right hand post. ‘hassig had another good spell at this stage and Hastings had to bravely block an effort on goal on 50 minutes. Hallahan had a huge slice of luck on 58 minutes when he let a free kick go, only for the ball to hit the post and rebound to a forward who headed back into the keepers hands. On the hour mark Collins put a sweet ball over the top for Meade who crossed perfectly to Davin who had to score but the keeper pulled off a miraculous save with his feet to deny O’ Neill yet another goal in a season of many goals. Wanderers had further efforts through Meade who lashed over the top, Nolan who put a great headed chance wide and O’ Neil who again lashed over the top before Meade cut in from the left on 88 minutes and unleashed a pile driver that hit the butt of the post and away.

There was an element of relief at the final whistle because of the narrow margin of the victory but Captain Conor Meade accepted the cup with humility, acknowledging the efforts of the Ballinhassig team and the support of the Wanderers fans.

Full credit to Eric, Darragh and all the squad on another major achievement in a season of massive progress for this club.

Scorer: Davin O’ Neill 27th minute.

Team: Shane Hallahan, Eoin Hastings, Dave Stack, Gary Collins, Brian Fitzgerald, Stephen Bruton(Owen Kinsella 68), Peter Nolan, Davin O’ Neill, Shane Geasley, Conor Meade(Capt), Ian Stapleton.

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