IT was the usual Peninsula derby affair. It has everything that the derbies usually serve up, fiery play, niggles here and there, lacklustre in terms of the quality of football and over the last few years, the usual Pat’s win.
Yes, it was the men from Lordship once again who got the better of their neighbours but despite a bit of battered pride, it will not matter too much to the Kickhams as Joe Ward was not on stake just yet.
Cooley have the chance to advance still, but in order to do so, they will have to see past Naomh Malachi in order to do so.
The Kickhams are still left licking their wounds after Brian White left for Australia and America at the turn of the year. Since then, it seems they have been unable to find a man capable of taking pressure points, either from dead ball situations or from play whilst under intense scrutiny from Pat’s players.
His loss could be their achilles heel as they try to claim a third consecutive final spot in three seasons.
The Pat’s – second favourites to lift Joe Ward – hardly needed to hit top gear to dispose of their rivals, showing their Championship credentials this early.
County stars Paddy Keenan and Dessie Finnegan may have had an off day in the green and white, but Ray Finnegan certainly didn’t as he flourished in a more advanced role. With Colin Goss bossing the midfield in a way only he could, it laid the foundations for the Pat’s win despite a fresh start from Cooley.
Six minutes in and Cooley were on green street as they hit 1-1 past the Pat’s, a nasty wake up call for the Lordship men.
Conor Rafferty’s free was followed by a Ciaran Sheelan goal after the nippy forward took advantage of a Dessie Finnegan mix-up in defence. Collecting a loose ball, Sheelan raced towards Robbie Arthur, rounding him and finishing into an empty net.
However, the goal and point only seemed to shake the Pat’s and wake them from their slumber as they got at Cooley, with quick responsive points coming from the boots of Eamonn Carroll and Ray Finnegan.
Brian Donnelly then hit a bad wide, the first of many for the former Aussie Rules star, before the Pat’s carved Cooley open to put them in the lead.
A terrific one-two exchange between Keenan and Paudie Mallon created a gap in the Kickhams defence. Spotting a large void, Aidan McCann raced into space and was fed through by Mallon. McCann duly thanked Mallon for the pass by placing the ball in the bottom corner of the net.
Two O’Connors followed with terrific points as Eoin and Daniel pointed for the Pat’s, but it was their next score that really hurt Cooley as Ray Finnegan, after some neat footwork found the harrying Jamie O’Hare with a pass.
Finding himself in a non-familiar position with the goal bearing down on him, full-back O’Hare choose the right option as he opted to square the ball to a more seasoned shooter as Daniel O’Connor struck the ball hard into the net for the Pat’s second goal.
Cooley responded with two points, before Eamonn Carroll split the posts with a free, but a series of wides just before the end of the first half showed that both sides still have some work to do yet.
Cooley got the second off with a score from Conor Rafferty but three wides in a row - two from Donnelly who could not find his range at all and one from Patrick Sheelan - were rueful for the Kickhams as the Pat’s began to pull further away. Shane Hynes, Eoin O’Connor and Keenan with his trusty right foot put them 2-8 to 1-4 ahead with a quarter of the game remaining.
At this point, Cooley threw whatever they had at the Pat’s, but could only muster up three points as Fergal Reel’s industrious and relentless side kept them at bay for much of the game. Just as they closed the distance to four points, Carroll extended it again with a free.
Again, a terrible sequence of wides by both sides followed, which showed that a little more work has to be done before they can start to think of dethroning the lethal Mattock Rangers.
But before the referee Paul Kneel could blow for full-time, Ray Finnegan showed just how good he is striking a ball when he sent a spectacular effort sailing over the bar. There was room though for one more as Keenan got a point from close range.
Ciaran Sheelan was shown a red card, the third red card of the day in Dowdallshill for a second bookable offence on 61 minutes.
They may not be at fifth gear yet, but the Pat’s certainly showed their mettle, disposing their neighbours but rockier roads lie ahead, for both.
Scorers – ST PATRICK’S: Eamonn Carroll (0-3, 2f), Daniel O’Connor, Aidan McCann, both (1-0), Ray Finnegan, Eoin O’Connor (0-2) each, Paddy Keenan (0-2, 1f), Shane Hynes (0-1).
COOLEY KICKHAMS: Conor Rafferty (0-4, 2f), Ciaran Sheelan (1-1), Patrick Sheelan, MJ Hanlon (0-1) each.
St Patrick’s: Robbie Arthur; Jamie O’Hare, Dessie Finnegan, Darren O’Hanlon; Paudie Mallon, Eamonn Breen, Owen Zamboglou; Colin Goss, Paddy Keenan; Ray Finnegan, Eoin O’Connor, Aidan McCann; Eamonn Carroll, Shane Hynes, Daniel O’Connor. Subs: Diarmuid McArtain for P Mallon (58mins).
COOLEY KICKHAMS: Neil Gallagher; Eoghan Murphy, Alan Page, PJ McGivern; Conor McGuinness, Keith White, Richard Brennan; Patrick Sheelan, Brian Donnelly; Aoghan McGuinness, MJ Hanlon, Sean Donnelly; Jason Long, Conor Rafferty, Ciaran Sheelan. Subs: Gavin Long for E Murphy (33mins), Michael Rafferty for J Long (40mins), Oisin McCarthy for S Donnelly (56mins), Sean McDonald for MJ Hanlon (59mins).
Wides - ST PATRICK’S: 9 (5 first half), COOLEY KICKHAMS: 8 (3 first half).
Bookings - ST PATRICK’S: Dessie Finnegan (40mins). COOLEY: Ciaran Sheelan (42 and 59mins), Patrick Sheelan (59mins).
Red Cards - Ciaran Sheelan (61mins).
Referee: Paul Kneel.