KILLARNEY Celtic’s incredible dream of advancing beyond the first round of the FAI Cup turned into a 45-minute nightmare when they were comprehensively overpowered in the first half by a far superior Cobh Wanderers at Old Church Park, Cobh this afternoon.
Celtic travelled with great optimism after a remarkable season that saw them reach the semi-final of the FAI Junior Cup only to go out, in a dramatic penalty shootout, to eventual winners Sheriff YC of Dublin.
But Cobh had other ideas and they set about dismantling the Killarney challenge early on and, in doing so, they ensured the game was over as a contest by half-time in this high-profile first round tie.
Tight at the back, strong in the centre and opportunistic in attack, Cobh really looked sharp and they took the lead when team captain Conor Meade raced on to a high ball and capitalised on a mistimed attempted clearance to finish the ball to the net.
Within a minute, and with Celtic reeling, the Cork side were 2-0 up when James Stoat found the target and right on the stroke of half time, Cobh made it three when David Stack gave Celtic keeper Roy Keliher no chance with a sweetly struck spot kick to the back corner of the net.
Cobh’s vastly superior experience and the advantage of home venue made it next to near impossible for Eoin Donnellan’s have-a-go stars and the game died a death in the second half as Wanderers shut up shop and Celtic could find no way through.
It was a very disappointing conclusion to an astonishing period for Celtic in which they also reached the Premier League final and the KO Cup quarter-final but they paid the price for a long, hard but very eventful season and they will have learned greatly from this experience.
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