Cobh Ramblers 1-3 Shamrock Rovers
Stephen Rice and his squad had every reason to be happy this afternoon following a hard-earned, but well deserved, victory against Cobh Ramblers this afternoon. It was just what the doctor ordered after their disappointing exit from the Mark Farren Cup in midweek at the hands of UCD. This win also means that ‘Ricer’s lads have made it nine out of nine straight wins as they head into their mid-summer break.
There was plenty of action from both sides during the early exchanges but the Hoops were more fluent and had more bite. Ramblers were doing ok but time and again they came unstuck in and around the box as they found a defensive trio of Luke Turner, Jordan Tallon and Andy Spain in uncompromising form.
Thomas Oluwa started and he enjoyed plenty of possession in and around the box. Within the first ten minutes Oluwa had a header that he put just over the bar and a shot that went just wide.
Ramblers’ first opportunity came 11 minutes into the game when Alan Happi played the ball in to Chris O’Reilly but Gavin Bazunu
advanced off his line to take possession. At the other end Cobh keeper Mathew O’Connor saved from James Clarke to give the Hoops their fourth corner within the opening 16 minutes. Another good opportunity came for the home side on 19 minutes when Andy Spain conceded a free close to the edge of the box. Mikey Foley took the free for Ramblers which was cleared only back out as far as Foley who snatched his shot and hit it over the bar. O’Connor denied Danila Bogdanov before Alex Dunne showed some cool defending at the other end after Happi played the ball to O’Reilly who then switched it to Zach Manas before Dunne made his timely tackle.
The deadlock was broken in the 33rd minute when Spain, deep on the right, sent Dunne on a run. The right wing back then nicely picked out Bogdanov who in turn played Oluwa in and the forward ran across the box before turning and striking the ball past O’Connor who had committed himself the other way. A good chance involving Bogdanov and Oluwa to double the lead in the 39th minute was sniffed out by centre half Fionn Molloy.
The Hoops carried on in the second half as they had finished the first with Oluwa heading just wide shortly after the restart. That was followed almost immediately by a super pass from James Clarke to Bogdanov but O’Connor was quick to get a block on it. Cobh’s best chance of the game up to that point came in the 50th minute but a great save from Bazunu from Dylan Twomey’s effort kept the lead intact.
The Hoops went further ahead in the 64th minute after Oluwa broke forward and beat the defence to bring a save off from O’Connor but the ball broke loose to the keeper’s left and Shane Nealon, only on the pitch one minute, swooped unmarked to send it over the line.
Ramblers grabbed themselves a lifeline with 15 minutes to go to full time when team captain Michael O’Rourke drove the ball through a crowd of players and it beat Bazunu on his left to cross the line. The joy was short-lived though as Oluwa, Nealon and Dean McMenemy all combined to make it 3-1 with the latter showing great determination to get the ball over the line.
That was the golden moment as it represented the insurance goal to seal the win.
Like the U19s and U15s, the U17s will now enter a month-long break. This was an excellent performance that was representative of all we have seen from this team so far this season. Every player deserves praise but in particular it was great to see Toby Owens play the full 90 minutes and show what he can do and Thomas Hannon is showing more and more how he is beginning to resemble a young Ronan Finn. Special mention goes to Jordan Tallon. Jordan has started at the back for the past couple of games and has been impressive but today it is fair to say he was outstanding. Jordan is a most versatile performer but perhaps he has found his true position playing in the centre of a back trio. Martins Olakanye has been playing in a less familiar left-sided role on the wing but Martins has oceans of talent and he will adopt without a doubt.
Rovers: 1. Gavin Bazunu, 4. Andrew Spain, 16. Luke Turner, 17. Jordan Tallon, 2. Martins Olakanye, 3. Alex Dunne, 8. Thomas Hannon, 19. Toby Owens, 10. James Clarke, 9. Danila Bogdanov, 15. Thomas Oluwa.
Substitutes: 25. Shane O’Rourke, 11. Jack Kelly (for Hannon 85 mins), 23. Shane Nealon (for Bogdanov 58 mins), 6. Conor Behan, 7, Dean McMenemy (for Clarke 75 mins).
Report and photos by Robert Goggins