Goals from Keith Mawdsley and Evan O’Neill secured a comfortable victory for Aisling Annacotty over a troubled Geraldines.
Thursday’s defeat to Nenagh raised questions about the ‘Dines midfield, who consistently failed to track the runs of number ten Alex Gardos or prevent service to dangerous winger Danny Butler. Even with the addition of Kuba Domanski’s Premier Division experience, asking them to compete against a diamond just three days later seemed cruel, and Stephen Goggin’s 9th-minute through ball suggested that the task might be beyond them.
Goggin’s pass bisected the ‘Dines centre-backs and found the run of Keith Mawdsley, whose underhit effort was saved by Keith McCarthy.
One of those visiting centre-backs, Sam Mullins, was a late addition to the side, enforced by fellow Summerville Rovers alum Greg Barrett’s injury woes. Geraldines also lost Eddie Lee to an early knock, further whittling down their already threadbare squad.
The fast pace at which the ball skips off the Annacotty astroturf rendered Geraldines’ only attacking outlet – balls over the top for James Cleary to chase – moot. The tight pitch meant that troubling Mike McCarthy’s narrowly constructed side on the flanks was a tough ask too, meaning that once the ‘Dines went one down, recovery looked unlikely.
And one down they did fall, shortly before the half-hour mark, when Paul Fitzgerald’s shanked clearance allowed the hosts to play Brian Donovan through. Mawdsley stole in to nab a tap-in after his strike partner’s left-footed effort met the base of McCarthy’s left-hand post.
Falling behind prompted Geraldines to move Keith O’Connor further forward and utilise Christy O’Neill’s playmaking abilities deeper, but that change made little difference to the balance of play.
Aisling continued to dominate in the early stages of the second-half, doubling their advantage when half-time substitute Evan O’Neill slammed home a half-cleared free-kick from the edge of the ‘Dines area.
As Geraldines’ one-paced defence pushed higher in response to their side’s goal-hunt, they looked ever more vulnerable to simple balls over the top. Mawdsley spurned two glorious second-half chances from that avenue, shanking the first wide with his left foot, and seeing the second brilliantly blocked by the last-ditch efforts of Fitzgerald.
75 minutes of the contest had elapsed before the visitors, now sporting a three-man defence after swapping Conor McNamara for striker Derek Hannon, created a chance of any note. James Cleary connected with Darren O’Sullivan’s cross at the near post, but was dramatically foiled by an improbable diving save from Stephen Walsh.
Alas for the hosts, with three points and a clean sheet in sight, Goggin blotted his club’s copybook in injury-time by getting himself dismissed for a second bookable offence. Referee Martin Monahan had employed his common sense in the first-half by booking both Goggin and Thomas O’Grady for an off-the-ball exchange of views.
Unfortunately for Aisling, Goggin’s unnecessary late tackle in midfield was anything but sensible, and the midfielder – arguably the pick of the central cohort today – will therefore serve a very avoidable suspension.
Two defeats from two games, with a difficult run of fixtures to follow, leaves Geraldines firmly in the relegation-threatened mire already. Aisling, meanwhile, with a win and a creditable showing away to the champions under their collective belt, might surprise a few people.
K. Mawdsley 29′, O’Neill 58′