Moyross United pulled five points clear of relegation rivals Geraldines by snatching this six-pointer at the death courtesy of Barry Quinn’s late double.
Geraldines rebounded from Sunday’s terrible performance in victory against fourth-tier Shelbourne, with an honourable Tuohy Cup defeat to Fairview Rangers on Thursday night, and they immediately built on that momentum by striking inside ninety seconds.
Anthony Lee, on his first Premier Division start of the season, showed his ring rust by fouling Paul Fitzgerald from behind in the defence of a Karl Turner free-kick. Midfielder Keith O’Connor slotted away the resultant 12-yarder.
This promising start for the Garryowen natives was an extremely misleading one however, as Moyross proceeded to eviscerate the left-side of the visiting defence for the first-half’s remainder.
Although both Turner and Darren O’Sullivan took turns on that flank, neither afforded young left-back Conor McNamara the protection he so sorely needed. Moyross right-back James McNamara used his freedom to deliver two key crosses in the opening quarter-hour, from which both Ger Myles and Barry Quinn spurned presentable chances.
Ceaseless Moyross pressure produced a double-figure first-half tally of right-flank corners, which left-back Aaron Power delivered to great effect, but it was a left-wing corner-kick from which the hosts should have received a dividend.
Keith Colbert’s 35th-minute inswinger was flicked on by Pat McCallig at the near post and onto the outstretched hand of Fitzgerald. Luckily for the centre-back, whose intervention was admittedly not deliberate, the penalty he won earlier was not cancelled out by the whistle of referee Mike Kiely.
Shortly afterwards, another left-wing cross, this time from open play, broke to an unmarked Myles just inside the area, who struck it wide.
The former Coonagh United striker, who swapped with starting number-nine Quinn midway through the half, missed three clear opportunities in the opening period, and was as guilty as anyone for the northsiders’ failure to make their dominance count.
Moving Quinn out to the right-flank made a lot of sense given Geraldines’ left-sided woes, but manager Frank Hogan took the surprising decision to switch his most dangerous attacking threat to the left of midfield at half-time, with Colbert moving right, and the technically-gifted Stephen Hannon moving inside.
These changes, coupled with some noticeably tiring legs, ended Moyross’ pre-eminence and installed Geraldines as the team on top. Both Pa Moloney and Kuba Domanski enjoyed, and wasted, several half-chances on the break against a Moyross eleven that was now slow to re-organise.
Still, it was the hosts who should have struck first in the second-half, when a wonderful last-man tackle from Fitzgerald prevented Myles pulling the trigger on yet another clear-cut chance.
Hogan then handed his striker a partner, in the shape of the returning Ger Cronin, as Moyross switched to a 4-4-2 and finally found the breakthrough. Colbert dispossessed a hesitant Moloney just inside the Moyross half and delivered a perfect channel ball for Myles to run on to down the inside-right.
The striker then collapsed near the corner flag under the negligible pressure that O’Sullivan applied to him from behind, allowing Colbert to deliver a free-kick that McCallig flicked in at the near-post. Finally, a Moyross set-piece had borne fruit.
Despite the denial of a first-half penalty-kick, Moyross were the beneficiaries of referee Kiely’s generosity towards midfielder Colm O’Mahony in the second-half. Always a fan of the slide tackle, O’Mahony was booked in the first-half for a robust challenge, and went on to escape a second yellow-card, despite committing three worthy offences.
With fifteen minutes to go however, Hogan’s side appeared to have wasted that luck, when two catastrophic defensive errors put Geraldines ahead again.
The toiling Lee saw his clearance blocked down by Byrnes, and although the second ball was collected by Kenneth Meehan, Moloney picked the hesitant centre-back’s pocket and rounded Michael O’Donoghue to score.
Meehan got his side in more trouble five minutes later, when he failed to intercept O’Connor’s first-time pass that set Moloney away on the left-flank. The striker’s cross found an unmarked O’Sullivan at the back stick, but the winger somehow contrived to strike the ball straight at O’Donoghue.
Predictably, Moyross then went right up the other end and punished that profligacy severely, when Kuba Domanski made the fatal error of allowing the deadly Quinn to step inside and fire one home from range.
With time ticking away, Geraldines manager Tommy Barrett – in desperate need of a win – introduced Derek Hannon in a 4-4-2 of his own, but it was Moyross who seized the initiative that Quinn’s screamer had given them.
Although it initially appeared that Moyross had wasted their chance at victory, when visiting goalkeeper Keith McCarthy smothered a Cronin point-blank effort that stemmed from Quinn burning his man again, the game’s standout performer came up trumps for his local club in the second minute of injury-time.
After skipping past the lunges of three hapless Geraldines defenders in a left-of-centre area, Quinn continued into the area and lofted a beautiful finish past McCarthy to take his side one massive step closer to safety and send the watching Moyross faithful into raptures.
Despite the good fortune afforded to them by Kiely’s officiating, this victory was no more than the northsiders merited. Geraldines are in big trouble.
McCallig 68′, Quinn 82′, 90+2′; O’Connor (pen) 2′,. Moloney 75′
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