Knockainey v Castle United
Cian Gubbins Delivers 5-Star Performance for Castle United in Victory
Under 14 Div1 25/04 18:30
Knockainey 2 - 5 Castle United

Castle United u14’s forward Cian Gubbins was the star of the show as his side beat Knockainey 5-2 last evening in Killyballyowen, Knockainey. Starting on the left wing, but later moved to a central striker role, Cian led the way as Castle turned a 2-1 deficit around in the second half, Cian managing the rare feat of the entire haul of 5 goals for himself.

Playing into a strong wind in the first term, Castle began brightly, fullback Jack Carroll finding midfielder Christopher Costigan in space, who in turn played Cian in behind the Knockainey defence, only for the ball to get caught under his feet. On the far wing James Philpot delivered a simple one-two to Christopher before feeding striker Rory Light, but his touch was too heavy. At the other end, the home forwards were testing the mettle of central defenders Scott Coscoran and Darragh Considine, two shots in quick succession scooting past either post, and Niall Ryan in goal. On the ten-minute mark, Cian again found space on the left, delivering an inch perfect cross for striker Max Fogarty to head, but the keeper was alert and saved well. Christopher’s partner in midfield, Killian Aherne was able to dribble through legs but his shot when it came went wide. Christopher himself then met a ball from 30 yards and it did likewise.

At the midpoint the Knockainey forwards found room behind right fullback Michael O’Dwyer, but he recovered well, ably supported by Scott, backtracking. A minute later the deadlock was broken, as Knockainey utilised space down the right flank, cutting back inside and freeing space, the shot coming from the top of the box, keeper Niall unable to get down in time for the powerfully struck shot. Castle continue to plug away, playing through-balls behind the home defence, hoping to use the stiff breeze in holding up the ball in flight, but the Knockainey defence appeared resolute. Max played Cian through with a diagonal ball but was adjudged off-side, but there was no problem with the following move, Christopher freeing Cian, in one-on-one with the keeper. A little shuffle, and with quick feet, and Cian had placed the ball in, under and past the keeper to level the scores. It was just reward for the effort made. Again, Cian was fed down the right with a well-weighted ball, this time by Killian, his cross finding Rory bearing down on goal, but off balance when the shot came, and unsuccessful. Knockainey then capitalised on the near-miss in the dying minutes of the half, firstly bringing Niall off his line to save down low from a crisp cross, then following up with a ball delivered more squarely than previously, which was swung in with venom past Niall, to restore the home side’s lead. A late Killian free kick was headed out from danger, Castle unable to gain parity by the half time whistle.

If a quick start to the second term was the spur needed for Castle to bridge the one goal gap, then Cian’s opportunistic goal in the first minute of restarted play was the perfect example. Following Christopher’s pass the defence seemed to have the situation covered, but for Cian’s persistence, and the fullback spending far too long in possession. Cian pounced, won possession, and from an acute angle slotted the ball high into the net inside the near post. Rory then ghosted into the box, fed by a delightful left footed cross from Max, after swift and clever interplay between Killian and Christopher in the build-up, but his attempt was straight at the keeper and the chance went begging.

It took midway into the half before Castle eventually took the lead. Initially Christopher had shot from distance, the keeper getting down quickly to save, turning the ball round the post. From the corner, Knockainey had countered, working the ball upfield. However, with Scott covering and winning back possession, he found Killian, who used his feet well to beat two, before offering Max to run onto one of Killian’s trademark diagonal passes into space. Again, Max crossed early and cleanly with his left, Cian meeting the ball on the volley to sweep home to make it 3-2 to the visitors. In a rare foray into the Castle defensive area, Knockainey brought out the best in Darragh, in a last ditch defensive clearance, and from the resultant corner the ball beat all and sundry as it crossed dangerously in front of Niall’s goal untouched. The hosts were made to pay for their inability to get boot to ball from the corner, as Christopher took the ball through midfield in a weaving, jinking run, before finding Cian again, still hungry to add to his personal tally. He needed no invitation however and the keeper could only watch as the ball whizzed past him at shoulder height, but unstoppable nevertheless to double Castle’s lead. Possession was very much in Castle’s favour now, aided by the strong wind, and that weight of possession inevitably was proving progressively more difficult for the home defence to deal with, time and again Castle testing and teasing with well-placed passes and clever switches of play.

From the restart Cian found space on the left, and cut back inside, shooting audaciously from distance, somehow blasting over the crossbar. With eight minutes remaining Cian found his fifth. A quick Jack Carroll throw-in found Killian in space, who once more looked for Cian to speed onto a diagonal ball, this time to his right, and Cian did the rest, in and behind the last line of defenders before the inevitable clean strike past the stricken keeper. At 5-2 and the game drawing to a close, Castle could now breathe in the knowledge they had secured the points, yet still managed to play with the same tempo and creativity that had unlocked Knockainey so clinically, particularly in the second half. On the half hour mark Rory shot with his left, after intricate passing between Christopher and Cian, but the ball curled wide of the post with the keeper beaten. The last action saw Max tear down the left flank before crossing for Cian to chase, but he was caught and bowled over in the process, the corner conceded quite possibly the better outcome for the home team as Cian looked to add to his already impressive tally. The corner came to nothing as the action for the day then concluded.

An excellent team performance from 1 to 11, especially in the second term. The five at the back were for the most part resolute, rarely threatened and confident when they needed to be. Wingers Max and James were busy and industrious, stretching the opposition defence all evening, Rory too causing mischief in the central striker role. Killian and Christopher as usual pulled the strings and created all the forward movement and direction of play. But undoubtedly Cian was the star today. It is not often a striker gets a chance to say he hit the back of the net five times, let alone bag his team’s entire goal tally for the day. Congratulations Cian, and well done Castle.

Knockainey 2 – 5 Castle Utd

​​(Cian Gubbins 21 mins; 36; 53; 59; 62)

28/04/2018 14:40