Blackpool Celtic 0 Coachford 1
(after extra time)
Last season, Paddy Martin led Coachford to triumph in the final of the Murphy’s Stout AOH Cup and he again showed his value to the side as they qualified for the last eight of this season’s competition with a 1-0 away win over a first division underdogs Blackpool Celtic on Sunday.
In the last minute of normal time, there was a major scare for the winners. Keeper Pat White, who played well all through, misjudged a high ball coming in as both Ken Twohig and Anthony Cunningham harried him. Captain Martin raced across the six-yard line to save the day, taking a kick in the hip for his troubles.
The injury would have seen many a player leave the field but that was not the case with Martin. And how his side benefited. Four minutes into the prolongation, his free from outside the box was well saved by Willie Matthews but Ciaran Lucey retrieved the loose ball and his cross into the danger area was finished off by John Paul Heffernan.
The home side had the edge for most of the opening quarter. But they created little danger in front of the Coachford goal though the regular pressure did lead to quite a few hurried clearances in that period.
Whenever they did get up to attack, Coachford found the right wing a promising avenue and thought they'd scored in the 29th minute. Then Colm O’Grady, close with a 2nd minute shot, got clear on the right and his cross was bundled home at the far post by young Keith Linzell but referee Sean Hegarty had spotted a handball and gave a free out.
Celtic came very close to taking the lead in the 32nd minute. Then the impressive Ross O’Connor crossed and Brian Wall’s back-heel set up Anthony Cunningham for a shot that was very well saved by keeper White.
Coachford were at risk in the 61st minute when the busy bustling Twohig sent Anthony Cunningham into the box. He had two defenders for company and his shot, under severe pressure, was diverted out for a fruitless corner.
The winners had an edge at this point but were creating little enough. In the 67th minute, O’Grady headed a Linzell cross towards goal but he had to settle for a corner.
Finnegan soon came close to turning in another corner and that was about the extent of the danger to Blackpool until the 86th minute when Darren O’Brien’s far post header from a Linzell corner flew just wide.
It looked as if Linzell would have his goal in the second minute of extra time. Then O’Grady played him into the box on the left but keeper Mathews made a flying save before being beaten for the winner a few minutes later.
Coachford played cagily enough after that but there were two half chances for the losers. One came at the very end of the first period of extra time and followed a terrific free kick from the right by Neil Greaney. It broke for Anthony Cunningham but he shot wide from close range.
And Coachford were lucky again two minutes into the second period. A corner by Blackpool’s Dave O’Shea was half cleared but quickly returned by Pat Cunningham. The flying Twohig connected with a mid-air header but the ball flew well over the top and the Coachford defenders looked relieved.
Blackpool Celtic: Willie Matthews, Richie Clarke, Ross O’Connor, Ian Murphy, Pat Cunningham, Neil Greaney, Kevin Goldsmith, Dave O’Shea, Anthony Cunningham, Brian Wall (captain) and Ken Twohig. Subs used: Barry Hayles for Goldsmith (81st minute, injured) and Gavin Buckley for Wall (104th, injured).
Coachford: Pat White, Steven Goulding, Paddy Martin (captain), Keith Linzell, Ciaran Lucey, Darren O'Brien, Alfie Davis, Colm O’Grady, John Heffernan, David Finnegan and Steven Hackett. Subs used: Przemeu Sendor for Hackett (83rd minute) and Barry Kiely for Sendor (90th, injured).
Referee: Sean Hegarty.