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CBL Champions Super Cup Semi-Final  Result: Postal Workers 2 – 1 Doolan’s Cow

CLASSIC Postal. Forced to defend for long periods against a talented Doolan’s’ eleven who enjoyed hearty backing from their noisy north side following, Postal found their resolve and dug in to carve out a hard-earned win and the reward to lock horns with old rivals CIE Athletic in the final of all finals, writes Finbarr Buckley.

It will go down as one of the great defensive displays from a Workers’ side. While there were moments of class from Derry Hartnett, who created John Reid’s winner, it was more brawn than beauty from Postal. They have goalkeeper Tom Archer to thank for Doolan’s not being out of sight by half-time but understood that the result mattered more than the performance, grafting to a victory that guaranteed yet another duel in the sun with their great rivals of the ’80s, CIE Athletic.

Doolan’s showed scant respect for their opponents despite the weight of Postal’s ten title successes out of eleven being impressed upon them in the lead up to the fixture. The Cow put the absence of captain Darren Geraghty behind them straight from the kick-off to force a corner inside the 2nd minute. Aaron Hennessy almost caught Archer out with a devilish inswinger which the alert keeper did well to touch over the crossbar. His return flag-kick took a deflection off Denis Hurley’s, in for the injured Philip Clifford, right boot but somehow Archer got down together at his near post.

Doolan’s tactic of pressing high up continued to unsettle the Workers who were quick to withdraw their middle three of captain Pat Lester, Derry Hartnett, and John Browne, to bolster their back four. Another lighting raid down the left, this time, resulted in Jamie Murphy cutting inside John McGrath to force Archer into another diving safe at his near post. The overworked keeper came to his side’s rescue once again with barely ten minutes played when he pushed out a fierce drive from James Cotter who was played in by a superb pass from Liam Horgan.

Just when it looked like the Workers had weathered the storm by forcing a throw-in and a corner at the opposite end, a quick counter produced the opening goal. After an exchange of passes outside the Workers’ area, Sean O’Sullivan, in for the injured Geraghty found the sure-footed Hennessy, who immediately pushed the ball into Cotter’s path. Although twenty yards from goal, the striker had a pop. It was not the cleanest of strikes. Archer appeared to have it covered but as he dived to his right the ball sat up just in front of him. James O’Shea was quickest to react and knocked the ball away for Cotter, following up, to slide it into the empty net.

The goal rocked the Workers who were content to defend in depth as Doolan’s’ bosses Denis O’Sullivan and Wayne Kavanagh urged their charges to grab another before half-time. Horgan, Hennessy and Murphy all went close to a second before referee Connie Long brought the curtain down on a nerve-racking first-half for Postal who through a combination of excellent goalkeeping and solid defense still remained in the tie.

While Doolan’s last line of defense, James Murphy, was purely a spectator in the first 45, he was quick into action on the turnover when he acrobatically turned Tom Barry’s free-kick onto the underside of the crossbar and away to safety off the boot of replacement captain Craig Keegan. The Workers brought in Andy Maher at half-time to break up the play in the middle and he made his presence felt by disposing of O’Shea and sent Barry in with only Murphy to beat. The keeper got to the ball first but couldn’t prevent Pat Lester from following up and finding the far corner of the net.

With the teams level, the play became more cautious as Postal’s John Browne and Doolan’s sub-Keith McCarthy went in to referee Long’s book for their over-exuberant reaction to a tackle. John Reid had a fleeting chance to give Postal the lead in the 69th minute but delayed his shot as Murphy advanced to smother the ball. At the other end, a quick free-kick by Jamie Murphy almost caught Archer by surprise, the ball hitting the outside of the near post and bouncing to safety.

Doolan’s introduced Tony O’Reilly for Hennessy, who had been sidelined with a sprained ankle after the quarter-final win over EMC, and within minutes the talisman looked to have given his side the lead for the second time. When Tony Guest failed to get enough distance on a clearing header, Horgan looped the ball over the top for O’Reilly to hammer the ball into the roof of the net. Much to his disappointment, assistant Barry Kearney had his flag raised for offside which was duly acknowledged by referee Long.

It was fitting for Postal, with nine minutes remaining and whose dogged defense kept the tie alive, that a surge from the back by Jerry Browne should provide the league’s most decorated player, John Reid, with the slide-rule pass to squeeze the winner past Murphy. The Workers saw the tie out but at the end of the ninety knew they were in a match of titanic proportions that would have found Doolan’s to have been worthy opponents in their dominant era of the eighties.

Doolan’s Cow  (4-3-3): James Murphy: Alan Monaher, Ian McCarthy; Craig Keegan (capt.), Stephen McCarthy;  Sean O’Sullivan, James O’Shea (Keith McCarthy), Liam Horgan; Aaron Hennessy (Tony O’Reilly), James Cotter, Jamie Murphy.

Postal Workers (4-3-3): Tom Archer: Denis O’Leary, John McGrath; Jerry Browne, Tony Guest (Tim Donovan); Pat Lester (capt.), Derry Hartnett (Andy Maher), John Browne; Pat Hurley, Tom Barry (Ger Frahill), John Reid.

Referee:  Connie Long  Assistant Referees: Bertie Stark and Barry Kearney. Fourth Official: Darren O’Sullivan.