Coláiste Pobail Bheanntraí travelled to Mallow to face Patrician Academy in the opening group game of the FAI School’s Munster Senior Challenge Cup. The team, captained by Stephen Hanley, was bolstered by the return of Cork City’s Conor Ellis who had been selected to skipper Munster in the School’s Interprovincial Tournament.
After a cagey opening, CPB were slow to get into the game and looked vulnerable as Patrician Academy took control of the game. The Bantry school’s task looked even more daunting as their opponents’ benefitted from a fortuitous opening goal when a mis-hit cross was carried into the net by a swirling wind.
Having trailed 0-1 at the break, a reorganised side took to their task with more
conviction after the restart and the introduction of midfielder Gregory O’
Sullivan helped CPB dominate possession and start to create numerous
goalscoring opportunities. It was O’Sullivan who levelled the sides, scoring
direct from a set piece corner kick after his teammates had caused
consternation in their opponents’ penalty area.
As CPB pressed for a winning goal, the game entered a dramatic final ten minutes. With Bantry side spurning chance after chance to take the lead, an incisive Patrician Academy counter-attack drew a foul in the penalty area but the resulting spot kick was saved by debut goalkeeper Ronan O’Mahony who dived low to his left to push the ball around the post. CPB cleared the resulting corner and, after some intricate passing from defence to midfield, Shane Keevers produced a beautiful low cross from the left wing and Conor Ellis swept the ball into the net.
Having sought the lead for so long, the CPB players will be disappointed at the speed and with the manner they conceded the advantage. With the game entering the final minute of injury time, they fell back and allowed Patrician Academy to win a dangerously positioned free kick. Although the ball was cleared, it stayed in play which allowed a Mallow midfielder to take possession and produce a stunning strike from outside the area to break Bantry hearts and send them into the next game against Mayfield knowing only a win will be good enough to keep hopes of topping the group alive.