FAI Junior Cup semi-finalists and current Premier League champions Carrick United put a massive dent in the title hopes of St Saviour’s on Sunday morning when they came away from Ballybeg with all three points following a tough, bruising encounter.
The win has also put Carrick right back in the race for the league title once again as they have games in hand. St Saviour’s had to line out without three regular players including their star midfield player, John Paul Jacob and his presence was felt by the home side.
That said, Carrick were also missing quite a number of their best performers but they were more or less on top all through this contest and in truth the result was never in any real doubt.
Cleary off the mark
St Saviour’s had a chance to open the scoring after 8 minutes when Joe Twomey played the ball over the Carrick defence to Stephen Dalton but he shot straight at the advancing goalkeeper Adrian Walsh.
Four minutes later Brian Barry brought a fine save from the Saints goalkeeper Graham Cleary with a free-kick from the right side of the penalty area.
The home side almost fell behind after 16 minutes when James Kennedy tried to play the ball back to his goalkeeper Graham Cleary but it fell short and Ian Cleary took advantage by picking it up but he shot into the side netting.
The deadlock was broken however on 19 minutes in brilliant fashion. Anthony Power went running down the left wing before picking out Glen Keane with a superb cross.
Keane headed the ball into the path of Ian Cleary and he duly headed to the net from close range. The same player was just over the crossbar with a fine shot 10 minutes later.
Aaron O’Neill had a decent chance for the home side on 37 minutes when he took a headed pass from Jamie Swift but he could not keep his shot on target. Ian Cleary scored his second goal of the game 5 minutes before the half-time break.
He passed to Glen Keane after taking a good long ball from Wayne Fitzgerald. Glen Keane played the ball back to Ian Cleary and he drilled a low angled strike from the right side of the penalty area past the Saints’ goalkeeper Ian Cleary.
Stephen Dalton almost pulled St Saviour’s back into the game early in the second half when he was put clear by Stephen Dalton but he shot wide from 15 yards.
Anthony Power nearly scored for Carrick on 59 minutes following a strong run down the left flank. Ian Cleary then shot over the bar on the hour mark but he did complete his hat-trick after 61 minutes.
Keith Walsh played the ball over the St Saviour’s defence and when Cleary reached it he delightfully lobbed the ball over the advancing Graham Cleary from 16 yards.
To make matters worse the home left full back John Keane was then sent off for abusing the referee. St Saviour’s did score on 64 minutes when Stephen Dalton took advantage of a mix-up between defender Brian Barry and goalkeeper Adrian Walsh who had tried to deal with a long ball played forward by Joe Twomey.
The expected onslaught from St Saviour’s did not happen however and the only time they came close to scoring again arrived on the stroke of full-time when Pat McCarthy struck the Carrick woodwork with a hard shot from 25 yards.
St Saviour’s: Graham Cleary, Wayne Dunne, John Keane, Trevor O’Regan, Brian O’Donoghue, Aaron O’Neill, Jamie Swift, Billy Barron, Stephen Dalton, Joe Twoomey. Subs: Colin Keane for O’Neill (65 mins), Pat McCarthy for Swift (65 mins).
Carrick United: Adrian Walsh, James Walsh, Brian Barry, Anthony O’Donnell, John Walsh, Keith Walsh, Anthony Power, Wayne Fitzgerald, Glen Keane, Ian Cleary, Ritchie McLawrence. Subs: Stephen Hahhessy for Ceary (61 mins), Owen Burke for Keith Walsh (70 mins), Alan Redmond for Keane (80 mins).
Referee: Paul O’Keeffe.