SDFL U-18D1: Rathcoole Boys FC 0-3 Cabinteely FC
On Wednesday night, our SDFL U-18D1s went out to Frank Cox Park, Rathcoole, for an all-or-nothing final league game of the season against Rathcoole Boys FC.

Before kick-off Cabo found themselves a win away from the league title (results may not be up to date)  with nerves frayed, leaving some players (e.g. Hugo ‘Dougie’ Faughnan) too ill to play but they still managed to get out to show their support for the lads.

The game kicked off with both sides working hard and neither getting a lot of time on the ball, with some good tackles going in during the early exchanges. It was the Cabo lads who slowly started to take control once the nerves settled down.

They patiently worked through balls behind the Rathcoole defence and both Jack Donnelly and Richard McSweeney did well down both wings, with the latter coming close to breaking the deadlock. The home side came back into the game and it needed vital interceptions from Dane ‘Dean’ Burke and some quality sweeping from Jack Brennan to keep them out.

There then was a period of ten minutes in which the opposition managed to test Cabo with consecutive corners and a few free kicks into the box with which ‘keeper Rory Kane dealt comfortably.

The breakthrough came when Ben Johnson, outstanding performer on the day, played a ball over the top and, after some good control and great finishing, Kyle O’Keeffe put the away side ahead. With Cabo in the ascendancy, they pushed on, pressing Rathcoole higher and higher up the pitch with Diarmo Sexton putting in a Trojan-like display as the lone striker with few decisions going his way.

Sexton then won a corner and, from the right-hand side, Andy Smith sent in an in-swinger that Rathcoole failed to deal with and Sexton put it away. 2-0 for Cabo!

The remainder of the first half was fairly even, with both sides creating chances. Rathcoole looked to play in their tricky right winger but great defending from Luke Allen kept him quiet. Half-time came and the management team got the lads together to dish out water, Jaffas but, more importantly, the key to finishing the match victorious, with Jim Allen looking for a third, Paul Downer warning of early second half pressure and Paul Murphy asking for more hard work and intensity!

Early pressure in the second half from Rathcoole came to nothing but some frayed nerves on the line, thanks to Dave Barry who protected the back four excellently and both Andy Smith and Kyle O’Keeffe who helped keep possession and provided a great outlet for the back four.

After some good work down the right, Cabo got a free kick after a foul on Sexton. Andy Smith’s delivery was spot on again and, between Diarmo’s head and hand, it went in at the far post! At 3-0 it was still a tense game and, with some tired legs, Kyle and Richard had to make way for the dynamic duo of David ‘The Vegan’ Neary and Kevin Dunne who provided that extra spark in attack.

Dunne was unlucky to be called offside a remarkable five times and Neary was just whiskers away after some great work through the middle. Coming into the later stages of the game, Ste Carroll, Thomas Corless and Conor May came on to provide that extra push to the title.

In the latter stages both sides had chances but Cabo’s back line refused to let anyone through and, when they did, Kane was more than equal to the task. After what felt like an eternity the referee finally blew the whistle to much delight and relief on the away sideline.

Thanks went to Rathcoole for a hard-fought game and to league runners-up Kingswood FC who showed up on the night and showed great sportsmanship in coming over to congratulate our players before the league representative could hand the trophy over to Smith and his teammates to allow the celebrations and some soakings to begin!

That was a greatly deserved end to a tough league which Cabinteely never topped until the final day. A huge thanks to the players for their dedication, the parents for their support and to the management team of Jim Allen, Paul Murphy and Paul Downer for their hard work throughout the season.

To see some more photos taken at the match, do enjoy the slideshow below. You may also review the photos on this link if you’re on certain devices.

Congratulations on a wonderful season for these lads in their final under-age year!