By Daire Walsh
KILNAMANAGH will face Killester Donnycarney in the quarter-final of the FAI Intermediate Cup after they came from behind to defeat Cockhill Celtic at Ned Kelly Park on Sunday afternoon.
Following their 1-1 draw in Buncrana a fortnight earlier, the two teams were forced to meet again in order to determine who would progress into the last-eight of the competition. Extra-time had looked to be a distinct possibility when Laurence Toland’s opener for Cockhill was cancelled out by Andrew McGowan’s headed finish.
However, Anthony Hanevy bagged a superb 51st-minute goal to ensure the hosts claimed the spoils in this tense fourth round affair. Though the south Dublin pitch passed an early morning inspection, the conditions still had an adverse effect on the proceedings.
A strong wind blew across the field for the majority of the contest and the game was briefly halted on the hour mark as a result of hailstones descending upon the Kilnamanagh area.
It was the Donegal visitors who applied the greater pressure during the early exchanges – midfielder Ronan Doherty unleashing some telling deliveries into the Kilnamanagh box. At the opposite end, Hanevy got his head to a Gary McCabe cross and forced a fine save out of Cockhill netminder Gavin Cullen.
A League of Ireland winner with Shamrock Rovers in 2011, McCabe – older brother to Republic of Ireland women’s captain Katie – added considerable nous to the Kilnamanagh midfield. Conor Kenna (a top-flight champion with St Patrick’s Athletic in 2013) also provided a strong presence in defence, but he could not prevent the home team falling adrift on 16 minutes.
After Kilnamanagh custodian Karl Coleman struggled to deal with Lee McColgan’s left-wing cross, Toland was on hand to tap home for the Ulster outfit. This was certainly a set-back for Keith Foy’s men and Cockhill wide man Keegan Hegarty was perilously close to doubling the lead off a subsequent attack.
This let-off helped to spring Kilnamanagh into life and they grabbed a much-desired equaliser in the 26th-minute. At the end of an extended spell inside the Cockhill half, McGovern rose highest to nod beyond the reach of the helpless Cullen.
The Kilnamanagh challenge was galvanised as a result with the front pairing of Hanevy and Stephen Kinch becoming particularly prominent. Cullen had to be on his toes to deny both players as the opening period drew to a close.
While the teams remained deadlocked at the break, there was a sense that Kilnamanagh were beginning to settle into a more familiar attacking rhythm. Indeed just six minutes into the second period, they turned the tables on their north-west counterparts.
Chris Straeesle had initially been denied by an outstanding Cullen stop, only for Hanevy to eventually find a way past the bustling shotstopper. The industrious striker turned sharply inside the area and slotted calmly into the bottom right-hand corner of the net.
Although there was plenty of football left to play, Kilnamanagh now had a Dublin derby against Killester within their sights. Yet Cockhill were not prepared to go down without a fight and Kenna cleared a Toland effort off the line on 57 minutes.
The weather-influenced break in play took the sting out of the game, but Cockhill continued to push for a levelling score. A Doherty free-kick was deflected away for a corner while Coleman made impressive stops from substitutes Stephen Duffy and Dean Power.
Kilnamanagh maintained their composure, though, and successfully snuffed out Cockhill’s advances in the closing moments. Even though they had to negotiate eight minutes of stoppage-time, the Treepark Road side held out for a hard-earned win.
KILNAMANAGH: K Coleman; A Walsh, C Kenna, G Kavanagh, A McGovern; S Harding, G McCabe; C Straessle (A Buckley 65), S Kinch, B Connaughton (D Dowling 70); A Hanevy.
COCKHILL CELTIC: G Cullen; K Hegarty, O Langan, O McColgan, J Breslin, L McColgan; J Bradley, R Doherty (D Doherty 88), M Moran (S Duffy 55); A Duffy (C McLaughlin 55), L Toland.