Aisling Annacotty advanced to the quarter-final of the Tuohy Cup on Thursday night following a hard-fought 2-0 win over a dogged Coonagh United side at Jackman Park. Two second-half goals from Adam Foley and Shane Tracy secured safe passage in a tight contest.
Coonagh began the game with a 3-5-2 formation with Niall Earls being partnered at the heart of the defence by recent signing Kenneth Meehan and 18 year-old Mark Moylan. Darren Martin was given the responsibility of shackling the inventive Conor Coughlan and was partnered in midfield by Andrew Leydon and Ronan Lynch.
Martin Deady and Mark Gallagher were left and right wing-backs respectively while Coonagh stalwart Gordon McKevitt was partnered up front by last season’s top scorer Ger Myles.
Aisling Annacotty retained their usual 4-2-3-1 formation with Aaron Murphy spearheading the attack in the absence of Shane Clarke. Graham Bourke was also afforded a rare starting berth at left-back in the place of Killian Maloney who has been in fine form this season.
The first chance of a cold night fell to the reigning Munster Junior Cup champions when Conor Coughlan’s low cross was scooped over the crossbar by Shane Tracy from all of six yards. It was a finish that Tracy will be disappointed with despite pressure from Coonagh goalkeeper Ryan Doonan.
Coonagh reacted with a chance of their own as a quick throw from centre-back Earls found Lynch in acres of space but the attacking midfielder’s effort was easily saved by Brian O’Connor.
As the half wore on, playing attacks down the right hand side was starting to pay dividends for Keith Doran’s side. Firstly, an intricate move involving Mark Gallagher, Gordon McKevitt, Martin Deady and Ger Myles was prematurely ended as the latter was adjudged to have been in an offiside position by assistant referee Mike Monahan.
Moments later, former Moyross striker Myles received the ball to his feet before turning inside left-back Bourke and blazing high and wide. His strike partner McKevitt was proving a problem for Annacotty’s defence as he drifted deep to collect possession before teeing up Andrew Leydon whose striker was dealt with by O’Connor.
Coonagh should have taken the lead in strange fashion five minutes before the break when Gallagher’s searching ball forward was misjudged by O’Connor and McKevitt’s header went just wide.
Aisling will feel they should have taken the lead themselves when Kennedy’ N’dip’s cross was met by the head of Keith Mawdsley but goalkeeper Doonan managed to touch his header wide for a corner kick which was cleared by the head of Myles.
Aisling manager Shane O’Hanlon made a half-time substitution with Killian Maloney replacing Graham Bourke. They had a massive chance when Aaron Murphy was played through but even though he beat the advancing Doonan, the post saved their opponents.
O’Connor looked unconvincing under the high ball and he flapped at a McKevitt delivery and Martin Deady almost profited at the back post. A strong run by Coughlan ended in a pass to Mawdsley who placed a shot straight at the grateful Doonan in the Coonagh goal.
With 20 minutes remaining, Aisling took the lead as a Shane Stack cross was converted by Adam Foley. Aisling doubled their lead when Coughlan’s cross was steered home by the right foot of Shane Tracy. It was a rare right-footed goal for the former Limerick FC man.
To their credit, Coonagh battled right to the end and could have pulled back a consolation goal on two occasions but they will be left to rue missed chances in what was an otherwise good performance. Next up for Coonagh is a home tie with Prospect while Aisling Annacotty face Ballynanty in a top of the table clash.
Coonagh United: Ryan Doonan, Mark Gallagher, Mark Moylan, Kenneth Meehan (Frank Harnett), Niall Earls, Martin Deady, Andrew Leydon, Ronan Lynch, Darren Martin (Ian Considine), Gordon McKevitt (Barry Harnett), Ger Myles
Aisling Annacotty: Brian O’Connor, Kennedy N’dip (Brian Butler), Thomas Clarke, Nathan O’Callaghan, Graham Bourke (Killian Maloney), Brendan O’Dwyer (Dylan Sheehan), Shane Tracy (Jake Prendergast), Conor Coughlan, Aaron Murphy , Adam Foley, Keith Mawdsley (Shane Stack)