Darren Stokes double
lifts Bansha Celtic
to new heights

Paddy Purtill Cup Final

Paddy Purtill Cup Final

BANSHA CELTIC 3 ST. NICHOLAS FC 2

(after extra-time)

A goal in the second period of extra-time from man of the match Darren Stokes proved instrumental in Bansha Celtic overcoming neighbours St. Nicholas of Solohead and etch their name for the first time on the Paddy Purtill Cup (sponsored by the Shamrock Lounge, Cahir) in this final replay played under the lights of Cooke Park, Tipp town last Wednesday night.

The original game was abandoned following an injury to Bansha Celtic ‘keeper Connie O’Dwyer seven days earlier and everyone was delighted to see Connie, following surgery, attending this replay. Unlike the original game it took Bansha just 3 minutes to break the deadlock. A ball over the top from Shane Egan saw Darren Stokes bring it under control before neatly chipping the ‘keeper Mark Lowry. Bansha had another chance to extend their lead after 5 minutes when a corner-kick from Brendan McGrath saw St. Nicholas goalie Mark Lowry produce a fine save from a Kevin Mullins strike from the edge of the 18 yard area.

Although Bansha had the lion’s share of the possession St. Nicholas were back on level terms after 8 minutes when Joss O’Brien’s cross was steered home from close range by Michael Fitzgerald.

Mark Lowry was the busier of the two goalkeepers in the opening half. He produced a double save, punching clear a corner-kick before tipping a goal- bound shot from James O’Leary over his crossbar. However the constant pressure from Bansha paid dividends after 20 minutes when an underhit pass by a St. Nicholas defender saw Tony O’Brien intercept and coolly pick his spot past Mark Lowry to make it 2-1.

Over the final fifteen minutes of the first half St. Nicholas tried to respond, with a long-range effort from Eoin Riordan catching Bansha ‘keeper Eamon O’Donnell stranded in no-man’s land, but the ball went the wrong side of the crossbar. St. Nicholas’s best chance to draw level came right on the stroke of half-time when a corner from Joss O’Brien saw Philip O’Doherty’s free header pass the wrong side of the upright.

Whatever words of wisdom were used by the St. Nicholas management team at the break saw a rejuvenated Solohead put pressure on the Bansha goal as the second half got underway. However chances went a-begging, with Eoin Riordan heading over the crossbar from a Joss O’Brien centre and Alan Riordan and Michael Fitzgerald failed to test ‘keeper Eamon O’Connell.

Bansha, responding on the counter attack, saw a shot by Darren Stokes clip a defender and Mark Lowry did well to take the ball under his crossbar. However it was at the other end of the pitch that the main action was taking place, with Joss O’Brien proving a handful for the Bansha rearguard and he brought the sides level after 62 minutes. O’Brien showed some more deft footwork, cutting in along the end-line before unleashing a shot from an acute angle that keeper Eamon O’Connell fumbled over the line.

Bansha regained their composure and after 68 minutes it took another superb diving save from Mark Lowry to push away a free-kick from Tony Egan. Another Egan free after 75 minutes was on target but Lowry got his body behind the ball. On the stroke of full-time Bansha looked to have won it when a free-kick out on the right from Denis Peters was stopped by Lowry and cleared off the line by Colm Riordan as it ricocheted around the penalty area.

The opening period of extra-time was pretty even, with both sides creating chances, the best of which fell to Bansha after 99 minutes. Tony O’Brien was one-on-one with Mark Lowry but the St. Nicholas ‘keeper quickly narrowed his angles, producing yet another fine save.

Bansha got the goal that decided this epic contest after 106 minutes. A quick break saw Tony O’Brien’s well-struck, close range shot parried by Mark Lowry but the ball fell to Darren Stokes and the former St. Nicholas striker hit a low shot into the corner of the net. There was no comeback on this occasion for St. Nicholas as Bansha, despite having a few heart-stopping moments, held on to the delight of their large following.

Bansha Celtic: Eamon O’Connell, Wayne Barry, Vincent Murphy, Micheal O’Connell, Denis Peters, Shane Egan, Brendan McGrath, Kevin Mullins, Tony O’Brien, Darren Stokes and James O’Leary.

Substitutes: Tony Byrnes, Darren Sheils, Chris O’Halloran, John Halpin and Connie O’Dwyer.

St. Nicholas FC: Mark Lowry, J.J. O’Brien, Brian Hartnett, Colm Riordan, Philip O’Doherty, Aidan Riordan, Joss O’Brien, Alan Riordan, Michael Fitzgerald, Eoin Riordan, Declan Riordan

Substitutes: Chris Ryan, Joey Riordan, Paddy Fitzgerald and Jonathan Ryan.

Officials: W. Burke, J. Lyons and P. Keane.