A strong finish from Malahide United gave them what was, in the end, a comfortable FAI Cup win over nine-man Blarney United at O’Shea Park last night.
The visitors were leading 2-1 with five minutes of normal time remaining after former Bohemians and Shelbourne striker Glen Crowe had put them ahead, when Blarney sub Eddie O’Connell was sent off after an incident involving Malahide left-back Alan O’Riordan.
With the hosts having already been reduced to 10 men when defender John Meade was dismissed just before half-time, Malahide made their numerical advantage count to the full as sub Alan Corcoran profited from Crowe’s low cross on 88 minutes.
Then, in injury time, another replacement, Stephen Donnelly, touched the ball home after right-back Ryan Dooney’s clearance had bounced over Blarney goalkeeper Eamon Breen.
Blarney can be proud of their efforts, however, with Ray O’Leary excellent all through while striker Richard O’Brien worked hard in a lone attacking role for long spells.
Though midfielder O’Leary hit the crossbar inside a minute, Malahide got off to a dream start in the sixth minute as Mark Higgins did well on the right flank and his cross was met by the head of left winger Alan O’Keeffe, giving Breen no chance.
Blarney took a while to recover from that, making some silly mistakes, but once they found their rhythm again, they were well in the game and only a fine Dooney block prevented O’Leary equalising after a lovely move in the 13th minute.
On 23 minutes, Malahide captain Alan Doyle hit the crossbar with a free-kick and Crowe could only head the rebound at Breen. Buoyed by that let-off, Blarney equalised two minutes later.
After right-back Kieran Murray’s cross was not dealt with properly, striker O’Brien produced an excellent low shot to the corner of the net.
Coming up to half-time, Malahide had the better of the chances but could not convert them, Barry Slattery going closest, but just before the break Blarney suffered a blow as Meade was sent off for a foul on Mark Cashen.
Early in the second half, though, Blarney ensured that it was not easy for Malahide to make the most of their extra man. Crowe and Mark Higgins had half-chances, but other than that it remained competitive.
Just before the hour, Blarney felt they should have had a penalty when right-back Kieran Murray went down under O’Riordan’s challenge but instead a corner was the award and less than a minute later, Malahide went ahead, Crowe heading home Mark Cashen’s cross.
Crowe went close, twice in quick succession after that, despite Blarney attempting to increase the pressure in the search for an equaliser, their best chances falling to Cathal O’Neill but both times Stephen Cashen was equal to them.
With time running out, the home team suffered the blow of the second red card, O’Connell winning a challenge with O’Riordan and then seeming to pat him on the head only for referee Graham Kelly to send him off. From there, there would only be one winner, as Malahide powered on.
BLARNEY UNITED: Breen; Murray, Coleman, Meade, Lawlor; O’Neill, R O’Leary, O’Connor, Clifford (Cronin 72), I O’Leary (Coker 60); O’Brien (O’Connell 75).
MALAHIDE UNITED: S Cashen; Dooney, Butler, Perth, O’Riordan; Higgins, Doyle, Slattery, O’Keeffe (Dunne 65); Crowe (Donnelly 89), M Cashen (Corcoran 81).
Referee: G Kelly (Cork).
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