Blarney Street Athletic 3 Hibernians B 2
Despite a gallant effort, second division Hibernians B were pipped in the final minute by first division Blarney Street Athletic in the opening round of the Murphy’s Stout Corinthians Cup at a wet and muddy Monard on Saturday afternoon.
Hibs had built up a two goal lead by the 25th minute as they took the game to the match favourites. But then they saw a midfielder red carded by referee Damien O'Mahony, for a retaliatory foul after what the Hibs man regarded as a late tackle, and that was the key moment.
Blarney Street thrived after that. They pulled one back just before the break and levelled it early in the second half. The ten men though had no notion of surrendering, particularly their hard-pressed back four and defiant keeper Noel Murphy.
The Street were turned back time and time again and indeed Hibs themselves might have won in that action packed last minute had Declan McGrath been able to direct his header off a free in by the outstanding Shane Hurley towards the target.
But he couldn't manage to hit the target. The Street cleared and Gary Kerrigan set up Gary Coughlan to knock the ball past the luckless Murphy for the winner.
It was cruel luck on Pat O’Mahony’s men who had taken advantage of some slack defensive play to take the lead in the 7th minute. Then Blarney Street failed to clear from a corner and eventually Keith Ryan took advantage of hesitant defending to shoot low past keeper Jason Downey.
Their second goal, in the 25th minute, was a gem. Ian Casey’s long ball out and the persistence of strikers Ryan and McGrath upset the home defence. When the ball broke to Hurley he spotted Downey off his line and beat the stranded custodian with the finest of chips to make it 2-0.
Hibs were on a high. But not for long. The indiscretion came just three minutes later and they had to face the rest of the game with just ten men.
The Street spotted their opportunity and, their hopes renewed, poured forward in search of a first half goal. It came in the 42nd minute, a simple well placed header by Gary Kerrigan after an excellent cross by their man of the match Eoin Cremin.
And it got better just five minutes into the second half. The equaliser followed a corner from the right by Cremin. Hibs should really have cut it out before Street skipper Alan Conroy stooped to head home from close in.
Blarney Street would surely go on now and wrap it up. Not so easy though. Hibs closed ranks. Skipper Alan O’Callaghan led an outstanding back four and keeper Murphy made some brilliant saves as they frustrated the hosts until that final minute.
On the hour, Murphy showed his bravery in the terrible conditions. Then Street sub Willie Coughlan played Kerrigan through but the keeper advanced rapidly and got down at the striker’s feet.
In the 80th minute, Gary Coughlan raced through but once again keeper Murphy came to the rescue with a great save and Conroy’s shot from the flag kick was deflected over for another corner which, in turn, was very well held by keeper Murphy.
The game was into its final minute of normal time when Hibs were awarded a free in an advanced position out on their right. Hurley floated it into the box but McGrath just couldn't get the header on target.
Blarney Street cleared and went on to score the winner. The ball fell to Kerrigan and he squared it to Gary Coughlan who made no mistake against the exposed Murphy.
Blarney Street Athletic: Jason Downey, Denis O’Sullivan, Owen Cremin, Brendan Dowling, Roy Hallihan, Alan Conroy (captain), John O’Riordan, Gary Kerrigan, Wayne O’Leary, Gary Coughlan and Mark Bennett. Subs: Willie Coughlan for O’Sullivan (64th minute), Colin McKeown for Cremin (86th, injured), Derek Power, Ger Cronin and Vincent Thompson.
Hibernians: Noel Murphy, Ian Murphy, Demi Dowling, Alan O’Callaghan (captain), Ian Casey, Philip Moore, Declan McGrath, Thomas Horgan, Shane Hurley, Warwick Freeman and Keith Ryan. Subs: Jamie Kelleher and Kieran Tagney.
Referee: Damien O’Mahony.