Irish Cup fifth round: Ballyclare quick off the mark to end minnow Kilmore's cup dream
Ballyclare Comrades 3 Kilmore Rec 0
On a day when the minnows of local football were dreaming of staging an Irish Cup fifth round upset, Ballyclare Comrades dashed Kilmore Rec’s hopes with a devastating treble of goals in under 15 minutes.
As one of only three teams from outside the top three tiers of the Northern Ireland Football League to have reached this stage of the competition this year, Kilmore were hoping to go all the way to the quarter-finals for the second season running, but Ballyclare had other ideas and put this game to bed in sharp fashion.
Kilmore player manager Mark Holland, who has only recently returned from a hernia operation, chose to take the sidelines for Saturday’s cup clash, but was forced to bring himself into action midway through the first half, in a bid to spur his team on to some sort of comeback.
By then though, the damage had been done, and Holland admitted as much when he reflected: “You can’t defend like we did against a Championship side, or you get punished. We didn’t punish them and they punished us, we had chances to score, but didn’t take them.
“I don’t know how it looked to the supporters, but we gave Ballyclare a good go in the second half, and if we had played like that in the first half it could have been a tighter affair.”
This season’s Border Cup runners-up were entering the game without six injured key players, but even their pain mustn’t have compared to the anguish of their team-mates who were subjected to a relentless footballing lesson in the early stages of this game.
It could all have been so different for the amateurs, who tested Ballyclare keeper Paddy Flood with a decent shot on goal from Philip Traynor and another from the energetic Owen Curran.
Ballyclare, on the other hand, were much more ruthless and when Mark Miskelly squandered the ball to Chris Trussell, he panicked and ended up bundling the striker over in the box. Up stepped Johnny McClurg to dispatch the 7th minute penalty with ease.
Three short minutes later, and Trussell was causing Miskelly problems again, this time dribbling past him before rifling accurately into the bottom right hand corner.
The Comrades were now purring, and there was little surprise when Daniel Smith glided through unchallenged before curling a sublime finish into the roof of the net, in the 14th minute.
Kilmore and their travelling supporters were stunned. But perhaps the biggest surprise of all was that the scoring stopped there – a fact which was surely influenced with the introduction of former top flight midfielder Holland.
Yet the player manager was almost culpable with one of his first moves of the match, bringing down Trussell just outside the penalty area. Thankfully for everyone in a blue shirt, the free kick came to nothing.
Kilmore did try to pull themselves back into the reckoning, and in the 36th minute, the Ballyclare supporters were up in arms as they claimed referee John Deighan hadn’t spotted an offside. In any case, Gary Kennedy’s touch was much too heavy, giving Flood an easy save, and the danger was averted.
The second half had much fewer chances than what had gone before, but it was still a wonder that there weren’t any more goals.
Ballyclare did have the ball in the net again though, but Smith was rightly ruled offside from Simon McGowan’s through-ball.
The visitors’ frustration was clearly increasing, and both Ian Smyth and team-mate Curran picked up the game’s first cautions for late tackles in quick succession.
There was more work for Deighan on the hour mark, when he deemed Chris Getty to have struck the ball with his hand in his own box. Any worries for the home support were soon put to rest, as Flood dived to not only keep out Traynor’s spot-kick, but also Eoin Boyle’s subsequent rebound.
Kilmore did have another fantastic chance to get themselves a consolation goal in the 77 minute, but Curran’s sweetly-struck volley clattered the post.
A difficult afternoon for Kilmore almost became more difficult, as Kennedy and Andrew Doyle went toe-to-toe to dispute a challenge by the former, but any tension was dispelled by the final whistle and the players shook hands at the final whistle.
Ballyclare boss Ballyclare Eddie Hill admitted those opening 15 minutes were crucial, but believed his players could have made been more convincing in the end.
“I wouldn’t say that was comfortable. We got our three goals at the start, but then I think we took our foot off the pedal a bit," he remarked.
“Really, we could have had it over at half time... well, I guess it was, but we didn’t make it easier on ourselves.
“I knew Kilmore wouldn’t be an easy game, because they took us to penalties in the Steel & Sons Cup last year, and they didn’t let themselves down today. Now for us, it’s just a case of taking each game as it comes, and we’ll see what that brings us.”
Paddy Flood: A real stand-out display from the Comrades keeper. 8
Chris Monteith: Reliable and dependable. 7
Joel Cooper: What he lacks in height, he made up for in strength. 8
Johnny McClurg: A useful asset for the attackers. 8
Andrew Doyle: Composed and steady at all times. 7
Chris Getty: Full-blooded in every challenge. 8
Daniel Smith: His attacking potency was realised with a fine goal. 8
Simon McGowan: Hard-working performance. 7
Chris Trussell: Ballyclare’s danger man. 9
Mark Wilkinson: Demonstrated good intent. 8
Adam Gray: Looked smart in possession. 8
Andy Simms: Not used
Adam McCart: Not used
Denver Gage: On for Monteith, 63
Darren Doherty: On for Wilkinson, 63
Kyle Agnew: On for Getty, 75
Michael McKenna: Made a few good saves but conceded three. 5
Joe Murphy: Game cut short by early substitution. 5
Aaron McGarry: One of his team’s better defensive displays. 7
Jack Larkin: Played some decent forward passes. 6
Mark Miskelly: Had a torrid afternoon. 4
Ian Smyth: Guilty of the odd rash challenge. 5
Eoin Boyle: Put in plenty of effort. 7
Matty Hardy: Showed some decent flashes of skill. 6
Gary Kennedy: Unable to impose himself fully on the game. 6
Philip Traynor: Looked the biggest goal threat for Kilmore. 7
Owen Curran: Full of energy and endeavour. 7
Mark Holland: On for Murphy, 23
Larry McGonagle: Not used
Tommy McKendry: On for Traynor, 77
Mark Armstrong: Not used
MAN OF THE MATCH: Chris Trussell (Ballyclare Comrades). Kept Kilmore on their toes all afternoon with a dazzling display.
MOMENT OF THE MATCH: Paddy Flood’s penalty save from Philip Traynor prevented any fading chance of a Kilmore comeback.
SAVE OF THE MATCH: Unsurprisingly, this goes to Paddy Flood for both his penalty save and his quick reflexes on the follow-up.
BLOOPER OF THE MATCH: Mark Miskelly’s foul on Chris Tussell which conceded the early penalty to Ballyclare was a clumsy one.
Belfast Telegraph Digital