AUL PREMIER A 22/4/06
Grattan United 1 Macroom 2
Two first quarter goals and a string of top class saves by AUL inter-league keeper Shane O'Leary helped promotion chasers Macroom to a fine 2-1 away win over champions Grattan United in Murphy’s Stout AUL Premier A at O’Neill Park on Saturday.
Grattan won the title a week previous and even did Macroom a favour in midweek by outscoring Togher 4-2 but their visitors, well led by O'Leary, young Barry O’Donnell and the evergreen Kevin Sheehan, weren’t in party mood as this top of the table tie kicked off.
They still had business of their own to do and set about it early on. Grattan defensive hesitancy helped them. O’Donnell wasn’t hesitating. He nipped in between the wavering defender and keeper and put the visitors one up in the second minute.
Sheehan then made his first major contribution. That came in after a 6th minute error in the Macroom defence. It looked as if centre forward Timmy Long would score but Sheehan got back to make a superb penalty box tackle to save the day.
And Sheehan's second big play, in the 18th minute, was even more memorable. Then Szok Arek swept in a corner from the left. It broke to Sheehan and he found the net with an inch perfect lob from the edge of the box.
Long was the main man for Grattan upfront and he manufactured a chance for himself in the 21st minute when he outfoxed defender Brendan O'Mahony at the edge of the box but his 16-yard shot was well astray.
A series of Grattan corners followed and Long rose at the near post to head one past O'Leary in the 27th minute to make it 2-1. O’Donnell came close to stretching the lead on the half-hour but, after showing neat footwork, his shot from just outside the box flashed across the goal and just wide of the far post.
John Kelleher's cross from the right tempted O'Leary off his line in the next minute and he was beaten to the touch by the incoming Mark O’Sullivan but O’Mahony, one of a pretty solid back four, was back on the line to kick the ball away.
Grattan piled on the pressure as half-time approached but just couldn’t find a way past O'Leary who made some splendid saves, most of them from close range as crosses and corners flew into his six yard box.
Surprisingly, the Grattan momentum dropped off in the second half and the visiting keeper and his defence had an easier time of it. Still, O'Leary did have the opportunity to show his class.
His best save of this period came in the 69th minute. Then Long’s well-placed lob seemed to have his beating. But O’Leary stretched to his last inch and clawed the ball out from under the bar. The loose ball fell to the incoming John Kelleher but he was instantly crowded out and Macroom survived.
Minutes earlier, O’Leary had been relieved to see Grattan captain Paul Lynch lift his far post volley, from a long free in by defensive colleague Brian O’Sullivan, over the bar and, with a few minutes to go, O'Leary did well to touch a close range Lynch header over the top.
There was something of a scare for Macroom in between. Then their defender Trevor O’Brien went to head a long ball in. But the wind driven drive skidded off his head and it was a relieved Macroom man that looked back to see nothing worse than a corner conceded.
Grattan United: Adam Lynch, Damien Peelo, Darren Galvin, Brian O’Sullivan, Paul Lynch (captain), Pat O’Connor, Barry O’Rourke, Alan O'Brien, Timmy Long, John Kelleher and Mark O’Sullivan. Subs used: Darren Geaney for O’Connor (60th) and John O’Sullivan for O’Rourke (70th).
Macroom: Shane O’Leary (captain), Brendan O’Mahony, Darren O'Brien, Trevor O'Brien, Darra Deasy, John Angland, William O’Riordan, Anthony O’Donoghue, Szok Arek, Barry O’Donnell and Kevin Sheehan. Subs used: Brian Horgan for Sheehan (58th minute) and Red Kirby for Arek (74th).
Referee: Sean Hegarty.