AOH CUP 11.02.06
Mayfield United 2 Ard-na-Laoi 1
Brian Atkinson scored the last quarter winner as Mayfield United, beaten in last season's final by Coachford, snatched a place in the third round of the Murphy’s Stout AOH Cup with a hard earned 2-1 win over underdogs Ard-na-Laoi.
Ard-na-Laoi, heading the rankings in 3A, are at last moving in the right direction following two relegations on the trot. They shocked the first division home team with a 13th minute strike. Mayfield's high class equaliser soon followed but Atkinson’s winner didn't come until the final quarter of a game that never reached any great heights.
Atkinson, off to the Windies for two years in a few weeks time, wasn’t even in the Mayfield first eleven. An early injury to the experienced Ray O'Mahony led to his introduction and he was quite influential from that moment.
O’Mahony though was left cursing his luck. He looked a good bet to intercept David Hurley’s lay off to midfielder Barry Lawlor in the 13th minute. But then his hamstring went and Lawlor raced away to drive low past keeper Brian Ramsell and into the net via the far post.
Atkinson soon made his presence felt. In the 20th minute, Graham Payne, another who impressed for the winners, was fouled well out in the right. Atkinson flighted the free into the box and found the head of the unmarked Sean Madden and the flying header left visiting keeper Aidan Gore grasping at thin air.
Two goals in the opening quarter promised much but the teams didn't deliver. The second quarter was notable only because of a crucial save by the home keeper Ramsell. Hesitancy by the men in front of him allowed visiting striker Hurley a shooting chance. No hesitancy by the Ard-na-Laoi man but his blast from the edge of the box was superbly saved when the keeper dived to his right.
Mayfield have been blowing hot and cold this season and they had one of their cold spells in the third quarter. Atkinson made a rare error three minutes after the re-start when he tried an unnecessary pass back to Ramsell who compounded the error with a sliced clearance. Hurley raced after it but couldn't beat a relieved Ramsell from a narrow angle.
The home side were still in uncertain defensive mode on the hour. Then Paul Keegan was the culprit. His poorly angled back pass was only inches away from the straining Hurley and Keegan was a happy man when keeper Ramsell got his hands on it.
In between, that man Hurley used his strength and ball control to break a couple of challenges on the right but his shot, from the side of the box, was too high.
The best chance for the visitors came in the 64th minute. Then Ard-na-Laoi full back Kevin Buckley fired in a cross from the right and Lawlor’s flashing header was just outside of the post.
That set the alarm bells ringing in the Mayfield camp. They got their act together and went on to dominate the final twenty minutes.
In the 71st minute, full back Ger O’Mahony sent Graham Payne racing into the box. Payne outfoxed Gary Lucey, who had been outstanding all match for the losers, but his shot on the turn was a few inches too high.
Better luck for the home team in the 77th minute. Full back O'Mahony made ground up the right and crossed. The clearance went out to the left where the other full back Johnny Buckley was stationed. He hit a fine cross towards the near post and Lehane headed on. Keeper Gore managed to parry but Atkinson was on hand to tap in the loose ball.
Mayfield United: Brian Ramsell, Ger O’Mahony, Johnny Buckley, Ray O’Mahony, Ian Wills, Paul Keegan, Graham Payne, Sean Madden, Ian Saville, Kevin Ramsell and Conor Lehane. Sub used: Brian Atkinson for R. O’Mahony (14th minute, injured).
Ard-na-Laoi: Aidan Gore, Kevin Buckley, John Casey, Gary Lucey, Jimmy Delaney, Eoin Linehan, Barry Lawlor, Dave Kenneally, Graham Brodbin, Dave Hurley and Dave Buckley. Sub used: Darek Czesnicki for Linehan (56th minute).
Referee: Richie Murphy.