AOH Cup v Passage in Rockenham Park on 25th February 2006
Passage 1 Carrigtwohill United 0

Skipper James O’Leary snatched the disputed winner as Premier side Passage scraped into the third round of the Murphy’s Stout AOH Cup with a barely deserved 1-0 win over first division visitors Carrigtwohill.

O’Leary’s strike, from what seemed an offside position, spared the blushes of experienced colleague Paul Coughlan who should have had put Passage ahead in the opening minutes of the second half after O’Leary himself had just failed to turn in a John Cotter cross at the end of the first half. Otherwise the better chances fell to the visitors. Carrig were slow enough to start as O’Leary in midfield and Coughlan upfront helped Passage take the initiative in the early stages but all their wily craft produced were some half chances and a few free kicks. The first of the free kicks, and a booking for a Carrig defender came in the 4th minute. O’Leary sent Whitty into the danger area but he was brought down just outside the box. Coughlan’s free though was much too high.

The underdogs gradually found their feet and seriously exposed Passage on the half hour mark. It was a fine sweeping move, Stephen Kidney twice involved before sending Stephen Dineen in to cross. The ten-yard volley proved too difficult to take for Derek Healy and, with hindsight, the header might have been a better option. Passage were very lucky not to concede one in the next minute. Then Dineen made a terrific run down the left but his cross was only inches ahead of the incoming Kidney. Kidney though did get on the end of a cross in the 44th minute, this by Derek Nolan, but his close range header was well handled by the keeper.

Passage came ever so close to snatching an underserved lead in the final minute of the half. Coughlan took a free kick quickly and found Cotter on the right but his cross was just inches away from the incoming O’Leary as the sleepy Carrig defence breathed a sigh of relief. Coughlan should really have put Passage ahead three minutes after the break. Then the influential O’Leary headed on a long ball and found the ex Cobh Ramblers man in the box but his angled low drive sped across the goal and wide of the far stick with striker Aidan Whitty waiting for a pass.

Carrig didn’t have that many chances in the second period but created a good one in the 61st minute. Dineen pounced on a midfield error and sent Steve Kidney in on the right to cross. The ball found Healy behind the far post but his powerful shot flew just over the top.

The winner came in the 71st minute. There was a chorus of offside calls as O’Leary latched onto the ball over the top by Cotter. The Passage skipper ignored the alarms behind as he calmly put his side ahead.

It as hard lines on Carrigtwohill. Manager Jimmy Nolan, back in the hot seat after a twenty-year absence: “He was five feet offside but that’s the game.” Nolan sportingly accepted that referee Richie Murphy had made his best call and Carrig got on with it. They did their best but Nolan’s team never again produced the kind of chances they enjoyed before the break and so they bowed out of the major cup. They’ll be hoping for better luck next Saturday when they play Mayfield United in the semi-final of the St Michael’s Cup.

Passage: Eric Cahalane, Martin Murphy, Gavin O’Connor, Mervyn O’Connor, John Carroll, Senan Andrews, James O’Leary (captain), John Cotter, Simon McGarry, Aidan Whitty and Paul Coughlan. Subs used: Conor O’Mahony for S. McGarry (40th minute) and Ciaran McGarry for O’Mahony (76th).

Carrigtwohill: Adrian Kidney, Mark Nolan, Derrick Nolan, Leonard Healy (captain), Colin O’Neill, David Barry, Stephen Dineen, Michael Fitzgerald, Ian Kenny, Stephen Kidney and Derek Healy. Subs used: Niall Kidney for O’Neill (66th minute) and Shane Harte for Barry (85th).

Referee: Richie Murphy.

Match report and photos by Billy Lyons Cork AUL