Eavan Whelan was the hero as Cabinteely produced a last gasp win at the UCD Bowl. His 87th minute penalty save proved to be the inspiration his side needed as a late flourish won the tie for the visitors.
Cabinteely, without the ball for large periods of the game struck in the 93rd minute through Shane O’Neill to continue their dream start to the season.
UCD could have had the lead inside five minutes – Chris Mulhall drove at the Cabo defence, but he drove his shot straight at Whelan in the visitor’s goal. Both sides struggled to impose themselves on the game early on, trading long range efforts.
Firstly Cabinteely’s Eoin Finnegan had a drive loop over the UCD bar after a big deflection, then the hosts responded through Eoin Kirwan, whose 22-yard strike flew past the base of Whelan’s right hand post, with the Cabinteely ‘keeper at full stretch.
UCD were more assured in possession, without really creating any clear cut chances, while Cabinteely too often found Bubinel Mazono isolated up front as he chased long balls.
Both sides went close to latching onto through balls as the half drew to a close – Tyrone McNelis for Cabinteely and then Ryan Swan for UCD – after a great ball in from Samir Belhout.
The hosts started the second half on the front foot, with Mulhall threatening to get in behind the Cabinteely defence, only to be denied by a great recovery tackle by Jamie McGlynn.
Daire O’Connor then produced a real moment of quality. As the ball dropped, he flicked the ball over the onrushing defender with his heel, before controlling and driving at goal. The shot only found Whelan’s gloves, who gathered at the second attempt.
Despite all of UCD’s possession, Cabinteely looked dangerous on the break, and were left furious seven minutes into the second half. With McNelis driving at the UCD defence, he clipped the ball towards the danger area, only to find Lloyd Cairn’s arm in the way.
The referee waved away the visitors’ penalty appeals. Cairn’s arm seemed to be away from his body, and he was lucky to escape punishment. Cabinteely made a double change midway through the second half with Gerard Pender and Shane O’Neill replacing McNelis and Mazono.
The duo injected some much-needed life into the visitors, and almost had an instant impact. Pender was close to latching on to the end of a set-piece, before O’Neill dragged a half-chance across the goal.
Cabinteely had a let off minutes later, as a deflected Mulhall shot looped towards the right hand corner of the net with Whelan wrong-footed, only for the ball to drop agonisingly wide.
The pivotal moment arrived with three minutes left on the clock. Eoin Kirwan ran at the tiring McGlynn on the right wing. As Kirwan beat his man, McGlynn’s attempted clearance felled his man, and the referee pointed to the spot.
As Kirwan picked himself up to take the spot kick, Whelan in the Cabinteely goal was booked for gamesmanship. The visiting ‘keeper had kicked a divot into the penalty spot in the aftermath of the penalty, and his tactic worked.
He dived to his right to push Kirwan’s spot kick onto the post, and the ball was cleared from danger.
The travelling Cabinteely fans found their voice, and the visitors found a second wind. O’Neill dragged wide after great control on his chest, and it looked like the game was heading for a stalemate.
There was to be late drama, however. As the clock ticked into the 92nd minute, Eavan Finnegan pounced on a loose pass in the UCD midfield, and drove at the backpedalling defence. He did well to hold off a challenge, before finding O’Neill.
The replacement teed himself up, and coolly finished across the goalkeeper into the far corner to send the visiting fans wild.
There was to be no time for UCD to mount a comeback, as the referee blew his whistle upon the restart. The Cabinteely players raced to celebrate with Whelan, whose heroics inspired a late rally, as the vistors completed a smash and grab raid.
16. Conor Mackey, 13. Dan Tobin, 2. Sean Coyne, 12. Ryan McLaughlin, 24, Maxi Kougoun, 8. Gary O’Neill, 19. Eoin Kirwan, 14. Daire O’Connor, 11. Chris Mulhall, 15. Ryan Swan, 7. Samir Belhout.
1. Niall Corbet, 26. Dylan Watts, 21. Adam Harney, 27. Troy Carey, 9. Connor Cannon, 17. Jamie Doyle, 6. Greg Sloggett
1. Eavan Whelan, 2. Lloyd Cairns, 3. Jamie McGlynn, 4. Victor Ekanem, 5. Robert Moloney, 6. Evan Finnegan, 7. Tyrone McNelis, 8. John McKeown, 9. Bubidel Mazono, 10. Aaron Brilly, 11. Kevin Knight
12. Conor Foley, 14. Gerard Pender, 15. Jordan Buckley, 16. Shane O’Neill, 17. Eoin O’Sullivan, 19. Gavin Fahy, 20. Shane Fagan
Gavin Nugent, Pundit Arena