Leeside 1 Passage 0
Leeside enjoyed their first win of their current Premier League campaign when skipper Jason Keegan scored midway through the second half and their defence, well marshalled by the experienced Conor O'Leary, held visitors Passage scoreless at Little Island.
It was a poor enough game at the East Cork venue and Leeside deserved the three points even if there was a whiff of offside about the winner. The Little Islanders created more scoring opportunities throughout and would have had the points in the bag sooner had inter-league striker Derek Delea converted a 6th minute spotter.
Passage hotly disputed the penalty award but it was their own carelessness that brought it about. Twice they played the ball backwards and the second back-pass, by Mervyn O’Connor, was well short. Delea raced after it and was brought down by keeper Eric Cahalane.
The visitors maintained though that their keeper had played the ball and that Delea had made the most it. All debateable. Delea didn't make the most of the award; he drove low towards the corner but Cahalane dived to his left to make a fine save and then stopped Keegan’s effort off the rebound.
Passage then enjoyed a good spell. In the 15th minute, young Simon McGarry played experienced colleague Paul Coughlan in but his shot from the edge of the box took a slight deflection and Coughlan had to settle for a corner.
They came close again in the 18th minute. Then skipper James O’Leary led a break and, from midfield, freed Coughlan on the left. The cross found centre-forward Aidan Whitty in between the two central defenders but his header from 12 yards or so was over the top.
Leeside though should have taken the lead in the 43rd minute. The energetic Joe Lyons set up Delea for a long-range shot that Cahalane could only parry. It looked as if Sang would bury the rebound but he choose to pass to sub Alec Nodwell. Nodwell put the ball in the net but, in his anxiety to support Sang, he had strayed offside and was whistled back.
The home team, with Delea prominent, stepped up the pressure after the interval. In the 46th minute, he rose at the near post to head a corner by Sang but there was no colleague at the far stick to apply what would have been an easy finish.
In the 51st minute, Delea weaved his way into the Passage box, thanks to some neat assistance from Lyons, but his final shot, a low one, was wide of the far post.
The winner came in the 68th minute. It followed a free in from 35 yards by Kenneally. Keeper Cahalane raced to meet it, a big mistake. He ran into a bunch of bodies on the penalty spot and collided with Conor O’Leary. The ball broke to Keegan and his shot on the turn made it 1-0.
Passage, in a bid to retrieve the situation, sent defender Johnny Carroll up to reinforce their attack but he got little joy from O’Leary and company and indeed Carroll was injured in a late clash with the teak tough defender and had to limp out of the action.
There was little sign of a Passage equaliser and it was Leeside who created the best chance of the closing minutes. Delea got away from defender Mervyn O'Connor and his right wing cross found Kenneally by the far post but the header was too high.
Leeside: Kieran Mullins, Mick Looney, Ger O’Mahony, Conor O’Leary, Jason Keegan (captain), Colin Aherne, Joe Lyons, Eddie Burns, Mick Kenneally, Derek Delea and Andrew Sang. Subs: Alec Nodwell for Aherne (9th minute, injured), Mick Coughlan, Wayne Barrett and Garth Lenihan.
Passage: Eric Cahalane, Martin Murphy, Eoghan Lombard, Mervyn O’Connor, John Carroll, Gary Prout, James O'Leary (captain), Simon McGarry, Aidan Whitty, Paul Coughlan and Gavin O’Connor. Subs: Patrick Coakley for Prout (36th minute, injured), Eric Burke for McGarry (at half-time), Daniel O’Leary for Lombard (81st minute) and Senan Andrews.
Referee: Sean Hegarty.