DDSL U-17M2: Cabinteely FC 3-3 Mullingar Athletic FC
Having been hammered in the reverse of this fixture before Christmas, Cabo had a big point to prove as they looked to build on their fine away draw at Firhouse last week and to prove they are so much better than results might have suggested.

The visitors, Mullingar Athletic FC, had the advantage of a moderate Kilbogget wind (i.e. a pretty stiff gale) and came at Cabo with worrying confidence from the start. A fine save from Emmet Burns with practically his first touch gave Cabo a great lift early on.

Mullingar didn’t have it all their own way, but did break the deadlock after about twenty minutes. Cabo, no longer a team to capitulate, stayed in it, and it was actually against the run of play that Mullingar bagged a second. It took a lot to beat Burns in the Cabo net. Louis Cush, putting in a tremendous day’s work, made a dogged run down the left touchline and forced a throw-in, which he took himself, a trademark long throw that found Paddy Dunne in the box. Dunne did the rest and finished with aplomb to put Cabo right back in it.

There was work aplenty for a strong and resilient Cabo defence of Hanley, Kirwan, Kelly and Donlon and for the in-form Burns behind them. The midfield battle was gripping, with Porter, Murphy, Browne, Dunne and Curran holding their own admirably against a side full of talent. Taking it in 1-2 at the break against the wind gave Cabo a huge chance for the come-back.

A strong bench of Berkery, Banks and Flynn came in to add fresh legs and Cabo started the second half as Mullingar had started the first. The visitors can’t have been expecting this when they left home in the early hours and they were up against a Cabo team playing some lovely football. Nice interplay led to Dunne finding a yard on the defender, finding room for an angled shot from just inside the area and tucking away the equaliser nicely to set up a tantalising final quarter.

The visitors – hurt – struck back within a couple of minutes to restore their lead but still Cabo would not give way. They knew they deserved more from this game and were determined to get it. Dylan Curran was outstanding in midfield and, in defence, Brian Kirwan played his game of the season. But there was enough great work from every one of the Cabo players to fill a match report each.

While their defence toughed it out, Cabo were menacing in attack; they were creating as many chances as their opponents and it wasn’t long before their pressure paid off, with several players involved in a dynamic move and Porter pounced athletically to strike a low shot from the edge of the area that gave the Mullingar ‘keeper no chance. With fifteen minutes still remaining it was anybody’s game and neither team was in the mood to settle for a draw, though at the outset Cabo would have been more than happy to take a point.

There was plenty of drama left in it, with penalty appeals turned down at both ends. A Mullingar free-kick from the 18-yard line hit the angle of post and crossbar and, a couple of minutes from time, Cabo had the ball in the net from a corner but the referee saw an infringement and the goal didn’t stand. Blinded by the euphoria of thinking they’d won the game, no one from Cabo saw the reason. Had the ref not had such an outstanding game himself, this might have been harder to take.

When the final whistle came it was the visitors who were by far the more relieved and that tells you all you need to know about this all-round turnaround by a Cabo squad that’s now come into its own and is looking forward to a host of great games to come.

Cabinteely match day squad: E. Burns, B. Kirwan, E. Kelly, L. Hanley, R. Donlon, R. Berkery, D. Porter, O. Murphy, A. Flynn, L. Cush, C. Banks, D. Curran, D. Ryan, O. Noonan, P. Dunne, L. Browne.

Some more great and worthy entertainment from our U-17M2s!