Summer soccer it wasn’t. The season’s first ‘El DARTico’ between Cabinteely FC and Bray Wanderers in the SSE Airtricity League First Division was played on Friday last 21 February in gale force winds and heavy rain. Stradbrook, with minimal cover, isn’t the place you want to be on a night like that, although it has to be said it is one of the few grounds that offers a decent view of the pitch from both the bar or your car and Friday was a night for such shelter!
While I’d question the wisdom of the game being allowed to go ahead, it has to be said that the conditions gave the sides a half each to make hay [not, in this case, while the sun shone!]. Specifically, with a strong wind behind them for alternate halves, chances were there to be taken and that’s exactly what Cabinteely did in the first half.
Kieran ‘Marty’ Waters scored the First Division’s maiden goal, and after Labutis had put ‘Cabo’ two up a brace from Man Of The Match Keith Dalton sent the home side into the respite of the half-time dressing room with a four-goal cushion. Bray had a mountain to climb.
It is to Bray’s credit that they didn’t give up and grafted through the second half. They had the wind and with it decent possession and got two back thanks to debutants Gary Shaw and Jack Watson. Some pride salvaged, some payback for the travelling fans.
Pat Devlin, the current Cabinteely manager and Wanderers legend, will be hoping that this season will at least bring another play-off finish. Wanderers are likely to be one of their challengers for these berths, and by the time they visit the Carlisle Grounds on Friday 24 April we will have a clearer picture on how both sides are looking like realising these ambitions [hopefully we will have better weather then too!].
Cabinteely are away to Athlone this week before entertaining Shamrock Rovers B [whose place in the First Division Cabo took after the 2014 campaign]. They will feel that these next two fixtures are winnable. Bray entertain Wexford at home this week in a game they need to win to get their season up and running.
Elsewhere Friday’s conditions saw the Galway versus Athlone game go under but they didn’t spoil the party in Tallaght where Rovers thrashed Cork 6-0, with Graham Burke scoring five [the first time a Rovers player has done that since Mick Leech in 1969]. Graham now has an early lead in the race for the 2020 golden boot [won last season by Junior Ogedi-Uzokwe of Derry City, with 14 goals] and the chance of achieving Rovers immortality if he can get close to the season figures of the likes of Bob Fullam [1922-23, 27 goals], Gary Twigg [2009, 24 goals] and Stephen Geoghan [1993-94, 23 goals].